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Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

Potential rule changes could alter tempo of men’s basketball


We are down to the final four teams in the tournament giving hoops fans a bittersweet feeling. We’re stoked for Final Four weekend but sad because, unfortunately, this means the season is coming to an end. There is a good chance that when games start back up next year, things will be different. 

There has been discussion on possible rule changes that could be made this offseason when the NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee meets in May. Two of the big issues being discussed are a potential reduction to the shot clock and an increase in the restricted area under the basket. Before getting into the rule change proposals, let’s look at the problems people have with the way things are today. 

College basketball has been historically low scoring this year as many teams find themselves playing tough-nosed defense and playing at a slow tempo. I personally love seeing great defense but would be lying if I said I would rather see teams throwing up bricks instead of going up and down the floor exchanging baskets. Because, let’s be honest, most people want to see action and want to see buckets. 

As for the restricted area, they would like to reduce the amount of collisions being made under the hoop by extending the area. So many times you see guys make athletic moves to get to the rim and before you know it someone slides right in front of him as he’s going up for the finish. Then you have a dangerous collision and everyone looking straight to the ref for their judgment call on whether or not the defender was set. Charge or no charge? Well, it’s kind of hard to tell for sure but with the restricted area being where it is today, taking charges is a huge part of the defensive scheme. So, there we have our issues.

These changes are tough to go about and can’t be made without some sort of experimentation. What better place to test it than the National Invitational Tournament? We might as well try out some new rules in the battle of teams that didn’t quite make it to  “The Big Dance.” It is the next best thing to the NCAA Tournament and you will be sure to get a high level of play from teams trying to prove themselves. 

The current college basketball shot clock is 35 seconds and there is a restricted-area arc that extends three feet from the center of the basket. This year’s NIT has been played with a 30 second shot clock and a four-foot restricted-area arc. There have been arguments for a 24 second shot clock but I think 30 is definitely the rational choice. A 24 second shot clock is too big of a change and would be nearly impossible to get any offense going. Especially if teams decide to press, leaving you with around 15-20 seconds by the time they cross half court. 

This NBA-style would not translate to the college level simply because of the difference in athleticism. The 30 second shot clock is reasonable and will keep the game moving at a faster pace. The extra foot extension to the restricted area will obviously benefit the offensive players, allowing them to take the ball to the rack with more confidence. Also, not having to worry as much about getting whistled at for an offensive foul and instead more possible  free throw situations. So far, the NIT Tournament has been pretty exciting and for the most part higher in scoring than the regular season games. 

The committee will evaluate what they’ve gotten out of this experimental change to help them reach a final decision on what the future of the game holds. Let’s not get too dramatic on these issues though. The game is not “broken” and this is still one of the most exciting sports in the country. Look at how exciting this whole season has been and the crazy events of the tournament we are in the midst of completing. Sure, there are some are changes that could be made to improve the game, but regardless, college basketball rocks.

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