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NCAA men’s basketball rules committee proposes moving three-point line back to international distance


A Kyler Edwards shot from behind the three-point line in the 2019 NCAA Division I men's basketball championship game.

There could be a big change to NCAA men’s basketball next season. The sport’s rules committee officially proposed Friday to move the three-point line from the current distance of 20 feet, nine inches back to the distance of 22 feet, one and three-quarters inches (commonly used in international basketball). This comes after this approach has been tested in the last two editions of the NIT.

The next step is for this and the other proposed changes to go before the Playing Rules Oversight Panel on June 5. If the three-point line change is approved, it would be enforced beginning this fall in Division I, and beginning in 2020-21 for Divisions II and III. Here’s more from the NCAA’s release:

The committee cited the following rationale for extending the line:

  • Making the lane more available for dribble/drive plays from the perimeter.
  • Slowing the trend of the 3-point shot becoming too prevalent in men’s college basketball by making the shot a bit more challenging, while at the same time keeping the shot an integral part of the game.
  • Assisting in offensive spacing by requiring the defense to cover more of the court.

“After gathering information over the last two seasons, we feel it’s time to make the change,” said Tad Boyle, committee chair and coach at  Colorado. “Freedom of movement in the game remains important, and we feel this will open up the game. We believe this will remove some of the congestion on the way to the basket.”

In the 2019 NIT, this change didn’t actually reduce three-point attempts. As per the release, “Teams in the 2019 NIT averaged 23.1 field goal attempts in the tournament from behind the arc, compared with 22.8 3-point attempts in the 2018-19 regular season.” But they made only 33 percent of those attempts, a ways below their regular-season average of 35.2 percent. So while this won’t necessarily lead to less three-pointers, it will likely lead to even more emphasis on players who can effectively shoot from a longer distance.

This hasn’t been passed yet, of course, and neither have any of the other proposed rule changes. Those include resetting the shot clock to just 20 seconds rather than 30 after a shot hits the rim and is rebounded by the offensive team, recommending a flagrant-2 technical foul be called if players “use derogatory language about an opponent’s race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability,” recommending coaches be able to call live-ball timeouts in the last two minutes of the second half and any overtime periods,” and recommending that instant replay should also be able to be used during those critical moments. But it’s the three-point change that’s perhaps particularly notable, as that could have a massive impact on the game this coming season.

[NCAA.com; photo of a three-point attempt from Texas Tech’s Kyler Edwards in the 2019 NCAA title game from Shanna Lockwood/USA TODAY Sports]

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