What is the NIT Trying to do to Basketball?

Why do people decide to mess with perfection? The NCAA decided to change some rules for the NIT games as part of some grand experiment to see if these changes are good for the game. I’m not sure what James Naismith would think about these changes, but I know what I think about them.


The Rule Changes

Three of the changes were in place for last year’s tournament, plus one new change. The only thing that rustles my jimmies more than needless change is indecision. Make up your mind NCAA. Anyway, the three returning changes are:

  • Three point line moved back 1 foot 8 inches. This would match the FIBA international play 3-point line.
  • The lane is wider by two feet on each side to match the NBA.
  • The shot clock resets to 20 seconds after an offensive rebound instead of the full 30 seconds.

The final change is a bit more complicated. The halves are essentially split into quarters without a clock stoppage at the ten-minute work.

One and one free throws start at the 5th foul in each “quarter” and reset at the end of the “quarter” or half. Inside of the last 2 minutes of the half, if one team has not already committed 5 fouls, one and one free throws start after the second foul. Essentially, it’s easier to reach one and one free throws either on purpose or by accident.


What Is the NCAA Even Trying to do?

What did this tournament look like, aside from a bunch of conference runner ups or worse playing basketball? Luckily, still like basketball.

Some of the changes have long-term implications that I don’t like. As if by some truce between coaches, the teams decided not to make wholesale changes to their gameplan and play the same style that got them to the illustrious NIT.


Decreasing 3 Point Shooting Percentage

Let’s get to the point here. Who doesn’t like watching games filled with shots like these? This Wichita State guard comes up a little short.

Another good shot from Texas.

Do I think the almost 2% decrease in expected three three-point percentage is due to the sudden change with no reason to prepare for a longer three-point shot? No.

Would players adjust over time and close that gap? No. This would be the product forever if the NCAA made this change permanent.


Shorter Possessions after an Offensive Rebound

I’m pretty sure that the point of this change is to get more possessions into each game. First, this is applies to very few teams and very few situations. Most teams don’t take the whole shot clock on an offensive rebound.

They get the ball and put it right back up from in close. Second, I’m not a fan of the shot clock to begin with. I want slowdown basketball games that end 6-4 to make a comeback.

What is the NCAA trying to do? Get me to watch more basketball? No thank you. The teams that want to play slow suffer and it feels like the NCAA is legislating strategy a little too much.

Plus, despite the NCAA’s best efforts, the NIT has fewer possessions per game than the expected average for the teams in the tournament. This rule is a waste of time.


Highway to the Basket

Well, let’s just marginalize defense more. It’s hard to protect the rim when there is more interior space to cover. It all makes sense. A diabolical plan cooked up in a board room to space the three point line out and widen the lane to create more space on the interior. Goodbye zone defenses.

I enjoy a mass of humanity under the hoop making it impossible to score a layup or get an offensive rebound. It just seems like another gimmick to get scoring increased as if that’s the only reason people watch basketball. Some people still like defense.


Easier One and Ones

This is a good idea. Why should a team that played cleanly have to foul like crazy to get to one and ones at the end of the game? They shouldn’t. The creators of the bonus and double bonus fouls didn’t envision it as an end of game tactic but the toothpaste is out of the tube. Since we’re already there, it might as well be easy.

Just imagine if Duke didn’t have four fouls to give at the end of their game with Michigan State in the Elite Eight. Probably doesn’t change the outcome but it might. The broadcasts could improve the display for how many fouls a team has committed under two minutes in the half.


What is the NCAA going to do?

Institute these asinine rules at some point probably.  Why wouldn’t they? Some research probably suggests that the game is more profitable with small changes to allow more offense. As a consumer of the product, you have to ask yourself this:

  • Do you want more space for offenses to operate and increased scoring?
  • Is more possessions and more basketball in a 40 minute game a good thing?
  • Do you want less time spent fouling to get to free throws at the end of games?

I know how I would answer those. No. No. That’s fine I guess.

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