NCAA Basketball Rules Committee Suggest Rule Changes

The NCAA Basketball Rules Committee has recommended five rule changes for the 2020-21 season. Moving the three point line back to the international line and a 20 second shot clock after offensive rebounds have been tested in recent years in the NIT. The rest of the proposed changes are:

  • Players being assessed Flagrant 2 technical fouls and ejections for using derogatory language about an opponent’s race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability;
  • Coaches can call live ball timeouts during the last two minutes of the second half and overtime;
  • Replay is allowed to review goal tending and basket interference in the last two minutes of second half and overtime.

I wrote a very sarcastic article about the rule changes in place for the NIT and although I didn’t showcase it there, I did a bit of research into the way the game changes in the new environment.

These changes still need approval by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel. They would need a reason to go against the rules committee that falls under their scope. It usually pertains to player safety or cost since rule changes generally affect all NCAA levels.

These changes are all slight and feel like moving the game in the right direction. No hot takes here.

Changing the game mechanics

Is game mechanic the right description? The three point line and the shot clock change the way the game is played. The other changes don’t.

The NIT saw a drop of 1.9% in three point shooting percentage from distance compared to the expected average of the teams that played. That drop is over 31 games and 1436 shots. That’s significant, but not a huge change. That means a little less than one more shot a game was missed over the entire NIT. From just watching the games it seemed that some shooters were more affected than others.

Some of the guys really looked like they were in their head making sure they were outside the new arc and took some ugly shots. Most of the ugly shots go away after the floor is repainted and this is the new normal. I would expect that number to still be a lower shooting percentage than 2018-19 if adopted, but less than 1.9%.

20 second shot clock

The 20 second shot clock is even less consequential. The logical expectation would be more possessions in a game. That is not what happened in the NIT. The possessions decreased by half a possession a game.

After thinking about it, that made sense. Offensive rebounds are not a large percentage of possessions and most are around the rim and are put right back up. In any single game there are only a handful of long rebounds or rebounds that are passed to the perimeter. There might be handful of long rebounds or rebounds that get kicked outside. Even then, unless it’s Virginia, they probably aren’t determined to use the entire clock.

All post season basketball has slightly fewer possessions on average. Only the teams designed to run keep their pace. If the possessions increased at all, the pace of post season play wiped out that effect. The end result of this change is probably better seen over a whole season of games.

The end of game rule changes

The rule change that allows a coach to call a live ball timeout in the last two minutes of the game and over time is interesting to me. An article was written in late February about the Tennessee coach, Rick Barnes, not being able to call a timeout in a late game situation. His main point was in high leverage moments, the player shouldn’t have to look to the bench to see if the coach wants a timeout.

Also, he’s on the rules committee.

Clearly he remembers that close loss and lobbied for the change in the committee meetings. He’s not wrong though. Why should rules of the game change in the last two minutes?

The addition of replay for goal tending and basket interference in the last two minutes of the second half and overtime makes way too much sense. LSU beat Kentucky in SEC play on February 12 by a buzzer beater tip in that was definitely basket interference.

That play could not be reviewed per the current rules, and explained well in an article written about this injustice. Goal tending and basket interference is a judgement call and therefore not able to be reviewed. Goal tending and basket interference is a far too black and white to be a judgment call.

Getting a call like this right at the end of the game is the right move. The cost of the equipment needed for this rule is the only reason to veto this rule change. The right way to call this is from an over head camera at the top of the backboard. Requiring every school to make that addition shouldn’t be too much, but that’s my opinion. The opinion of the Playing Rules Oversight Panel is what matters.

Flagrant 2 technical fouls

I’m going to cover this quickly. I think it’s a good rule. Trash talking on the court is fine, but keep it about the game. Players using offensive language towards other players about their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability should be removed from the game.


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