NCAA men’s basketball rules that could use a change

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Near the end of UVU’s men’s basketball game against Cal State Bakersfield on Jan. 21, the UVU defense forced simultaneous possession and the officials called a jump ball. In the college game, possession after a jump ball is determined by the possession arrow at the scorer’s table. Instead of being rewarded for their defensive effort, the arrow pointed Bakersfield’s way and the Wolverines were shorted a possible chance to narrow the score. The extra possession helped the Roadrunners secure the win. As I watched, this series of events made me reflect on some rules that I would change if given the chance.

Possession arrow
Let’s start with the obvious. This rule never made much sense. It’s called a jump ball, not a look-at-the-arrow-to-see-who-gets-possession ball. Abolish the possession arrow. Throw up a jump ball just like at the beginning of the game. In cases of simultaneous possession, the defender needs to be rewarded with an opportunity to get his team possession of the ball.

Unlike in other iterations of basketball, when a men’s college team enters the bonus due to the opposition’s number of fouls, fouled players aren’t automatically rewarded two free throws. Instead, after the opponent’s seventh foul of the half the fouled player is given one free throw and the second is withheld if the first is missed. After the opponent’s tenth foul, two free throws are given regardless of whether or not the first is made. If that sounds complicated, that’s because it is. My suggestion is to get rid of the one-and-one, split the difference and award two free throws with every foul starting with the opponent’s eighth.

Shot clock
Basketball is at its best when it’s fast paced. Nothing slows down the game more than a needlessly long shot clock. Since the induction of the shot clock into the men’s college game in 1985, the time allowed for one possession has gone from 45 seconds to 35 seconds to 30 seconds in subsequent rule changes. Stop with the half measures and just run the shot clock down to the NBA’s 24 seconds, or even 25 if you prefer the five-second increments. Either way, this would result in more possessions and a faster pace to the game, which would lead to more exciting finishes.

Quarters instead of halves
This is one rule where the men’s game needs to take a page out of the book of the women’s game. Starting in the 2015-16 season, the NCAA made the change from two 20-minute halves to four 10-minute quarters in women’s college basketball games. The NCAA Women’s Basketball Rules Committee recommended the change believing it would improve the flow of the game. The men’s game could use a similar enhancement to its flow, as media timeouts and extended periods of bonus time tend to weigh it down at times.

This change may also help the previously discussed one-and-one rule, as that’s what happened with the women’s game as well. In lieu of the one-and-one, women’s teams now reach the bonus on the fifth team foul of each quarter, shooting two free throws for each foul until the team fouls reset at the beginning of the following quarter. Giving the game better momentum and eliminating the one-and-one would kill two birds with one stone.