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Are New Rules Coming to College Basketball Next Season?

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A survey reveals the NCAA is toying with some more changes to how the game is played

NCAA Men’s Final Four - National Championship Game Photo by Justin Casterline/Blakeway World Panoramas/Getty Images

Things haven't exactly been quiet in the world of college basketball since the Final Four was played. Between Roy Williams’ retirement and Hubert Davis’ hiring, the massive number of people in the transfer portal and the subsequent moves, it’s easy to miss bigger stories. One of those stories came in a tweet, a week ago, from CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander:

If you don’t want to click on the tweet, here’s what the NCAA is seeking input on:

  • Widen the lane to 16 feet
  • Allow laptops and tablets on the bench
  • Allow for a six foul disqualification with a host of provisions
  • Award a held ball to the defense when they cause it
  • No more than two timeouts per team at the end of the game
  • Adding shot clock violations to the allowable reviews in the last two minutes
  • Eliminate the 10 second backcourt rule
  • Allow review of basket interference/goaltending for the whole game when called by an official
  • Allow a team to decline free throws when would in the last two minutes
  • Make offensive goaltending in line with FIBA
  • Make the EuroStep actually legal
  • Eliminate five seconds closely guarded

These are the shortened versions of the proposals, but are what they essentially mean. Let’s take a closer look at each one, and dig into whether they are good ideas or not.

16 Foot Lane

This brings the lane size to the NBA width, which would open up space under the basket and better prepare players who want to move on to the pros. It would also likely eliminate those awkward multi-color lanes when teams play on NBA Courts. There’s a lot to be said for allowing this one.

Allow laptops/tablets on the bench

This is really no different than being able to instantly review issues with players as they come off the court, and hammering home with photos what the coaches want to emphasize with players. I don’t know if giving coaches instant access to bad calls would be a great thing, but there would be a real benefit overall to coach instantaneously instead of having to do a film review later.

More Fouls

This survey is two pages long, and almost one of those pages is just on this proposal. There are so many “ifs” and “whens” on this provision it will make your head spin. So let’s start there, just the idea that instead of making it something that isn’t just a straight up “you get six fouls” probably should sink this particular proposal.

When you dig a little more into the proposal, you realize what they are trying to do is create quarters without actually creating quarters. The fouling is broken up by halves, but then those halves are broken into halves. There are resets, provisions, someone actually fouling out of the first half instead of “fouling out.”

I have an easy solution here: go to quarters. Just bite the bullet here and move into quarters like the women’s game, the pro game, and the high school game. Give someone six fouls for four quarters, but don’t add more work to the scorekeeper having to tell the referees on the court that a particular player can no longer play for a half, or that his fouls had reset. Again, when you need this many bullet points to explain a relatively simple concept, just let this one go.

Jump Ball

Seriously, just jump the ball up if there’s a held ball. Get rid of alternating possession, and allow the offense to have a fair chance to get the ball back. How do we determine when the defense had “forced” the jump ball? Isn’t that really going to be the only situation when there’s a jump ball, in that the defense came in and managed to grab hold of it?

If you can have one ref do a jump ball at the beginning of the game and overtime, then someone can stand at the free throw line and jump it there.

Limited Timeouts

If you want to speed up the game, maybe getting rid of the first called timeout of the second half being an automatic long time out would be a better way to go? Oh, you can’t do that because your TV partners have already sold that commercial? Got it.

It’s funny to see this Roy Williams rule be proposed the year that Roy Williams retires. That said, you can see what they are trying here. It limits a team to two timeouts each under two minutes, which means it’s still four timeouts in the last two minutes of a game. The thing is, you’ll just have a coach use those timeouts earlier in the game, so it won’t actually speed anything up. The “use it or lose it” timeout in the first half just causes more stoppages, so call it the law of unintended consequences.

Now, if we want to make it to where you get no more “long” timeouts, I’m all for that. Teams get to exploit that in the second half with the first timeout always being a long one, and that probably makes things longer than anything else.

Shot Clock Reviews

Wait, this wasn’t allowed before? Yeah, this probably should be allowed, even if it means more replay time.

Eliminate 10 seconds

Because what I really want to see is a team spend 25 of their 30 seconds just hanging around the other free throw line and then rushing to do something. What on earth is the point of this one? Please let this one fail.

Expanded Basket Interference Reviews

It’s unfortunately reviewing a somewhat subjective call, but at this point with the speed of the game being what it is, it’s probably worth referees having the ability to review this call, ones they’ve made, to make sure they had the right angle. With so many games having the backboard camera now, it should be a quick confirmation or reversal.

Decline Free Throws after a foul at the end of the game

You could see this dramatically speed up games when a team knows they have to defend an inbounds pass instead of shooting free throws. It does add another layer of strategy on both sides. Now instead of hoping for one or two misses, teams could quickly get back into a game, or if a team has a 50% foul shooter who has the ball, they have a better chance of not giving the other team a chance to get back into the game. This one is intriguing.

FIBA Basket Interference

It’s not really worth typing the big difference over what FIBA calls basket interference and what the NCAA does, just know that once the ball touches the rim FIBA says it’s fair game to be touched. If you pair this up with the expanded review, it gives you a pretty clean “yes or no” to keep a call in place or reverse it.

Adjusting the Travel Rule

This one would make step backs, the Eurostep, and spin moves actually legal. Since these moves don’t actually get called in the game anyway, you might as well make them legal.

No more 5 second closely guarded

This one feels like it goes back and forth every few years, but when you have teams that like to slow down the ball, you don’t want to give them another reason to do so. If the defense has to stay right up on someone without penalty, I don’t see how it helps.

Those are your rules changes. What do you think? Let us know in the comments which ones you want to see.