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Change is coming to college basketball.

It's OK, Fran, we'll get used to these new rules.
It's OK, Fran, we'll get used to these new rules.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved several proposals this week to alter several rules, with the intent of improving the pace of play and increase scoring while reducing some of the physicality from the game.  The biggest change?  Sayonara, 35-second shot clock.

The NCAA experimented with a 30-second shot clock in the NIT last season and seemed pleased with the results, so it's getting a full roll-out this season.  A shorter shot clock should increase the number of possessions per game, which will hopefully also lead to more scoring.  Fingers crossed that we see exactly that next season.

The NCAA also approved changes regarding timeouts, namely:

  • Teams can only use three timeouts in the second half (down from four, previously)
  • Any timeout called within thirty seconds of a media timeout will take the place of that scheduled break (so no double timeouts around the 4-, 8-, 12-, and 16-minute marks)
  • Coaches no longer allowed to call timeouts during live ball situations
Hallelujah to those changes, particularly the second one, which created absurdly long stoppages of play.

  • Officials can use the monitor to review a potential shot clock violation on made field goals throughout the entire game.
  • Making Class B technical fouls (hanging on the rim and delaying the resumption of play, for example) one-shot technical fouls. Previously, two shots were granted for these types of technical fouls.
  • Eliminating the five-second closely guarded rule while dribbling the ball.
  • Removing the prohibition on dunking in pregame warmups and at halftime.
  • Allowing a total of only 10 seconds to advance the ball to the front court (with a few exceptions).
  • Extending the restricted area underneath the basket from 3 feet out to 4 feet out.

Most of these changes seem like really positive changes that should help improve the flow of games and/or get rid of unnecessary annoyances, which should hopefully lead to more aesthetically appealing and entertaining college basketball games next year.  Fingers crossed.

The panel also approved an experimental rule that would grant players six personal fouls (up from the current five personal fouls) in a game.  That rule will be tested out in all 2016 postseason tournaments except the NCAA Tournament.  Glen Worley and Zach McCabe lament that it took the NCAA this long to test out such a rule.

Meanwhile, men's college basketball isn't the only one getting some new rules next season -- the women's game is also getting some tweaks.  The biggest one is the change from two twenty-minute halves to four ten-minute quarters, which has some important knock-on effects in terms of fouls and free throws.  Under the previous rules, teams reached the one-and-one bonus after the seventh team foul of each half and the double bonus (two shots) after the tenth team foul.  Under the new rules, the one-and-one is done -- teams will reach the double bonus after the fifth team foul in each quarter.  Team fouls will reset to zero at the start of each quarter, although the number of team fouls from the fourth quarter will carry into overtime.  If you watch the NBA, you should be familiar with how these rules work.

It's going to be very interesting to see how this change affects the games in women's basketball.  The intent is to enhance the flow of the games, but time will tell if that's the outcome.  It seems like it could lead to more fouls and more free throws, which could slow things down.  It's also hard not to wonder if this change will be a dry run for switching the men's game from halves to quarters as well.

Switching from halves to quarters will also impact the timeout situation in women's college basketball -- you can't have media timeouts at the 4-, 8-, 12-, and 16-minute breaks when those breaks no longer exist, after all.  They're still ironing out the exact changes, but this is what they're looking at:

  • One media timeout per quarter, which would occur at the first dead ball at or after the five-minute mark of each quarter.  There would also be a media timeout at the end of the first and third quarters.  However, if a team calls a timeout before the scheduled media timeout in a given quarter, then that timeout becomes the media timeout.  Likewise, the first called team timeout in the second half will be treated as the regular media timeout.
  • Teams will have four timeouts (three 30-second timeouts, one 60-second timeout) to use over the course of the game.  The 60-second timeout can be used in either the first or second half of the game.  Teams would be allowed to carry over three of the original four timeouts into the second half (up from the original proposal, which was would have allowed teams to carry over just two timeouts into the second half.  Teams would also get one 30-second timeout in each overtime period, along with whatever timeouts might be left from the second half.  The timeout rules in non-televised games are slightly different, but since hardly any games now are not televised, they don't seem especially worth discussing.

The panel also approved a range of other changes involving post defense, 10-second backcourt exceptions, and bands and amplified music (basically, bands or arena music can be played during any dead-ball situation during a women's basketball game; before, music could only be played during timeouts and at halftime).  They also approved changes to the rules governing advancing the ball at the end of games:

The panel approved a rule that allows teams to advance the ball to the frontcourt following a timeout immediately after a made basket in the last 59.9 seconds of the fourth quarter and any overtime periods.

Teams also will be allowed to advance the ball to the frontcourt after securing the ball from a rebound or a change of possession. In these scenarios, the ball would be inbounded at the 28-foot mark on the side of the court where the scorer's table is located.

The committee made the initial recommendation because it felt this change would add more excitement to offensive possessions at the ends of games because teams would no longer be required to travel the length of the court after inbounding the ball.

Again, if you've watched the NBA (which employs similar rules at the end of games), then you've seen how this works.  The end result is more (and better) chances at buzzer-beaters and game-winners, which... yay!  Who doesn't love buzzer-beaters and game-winners? (NOTE: We reserve the right to change our opinion after Iowa is eliminated from the NCAA Tournament Elite 8 next season on a buzzer-beater after this rule allows their opponent to move the ball to the frontcourt.)  And it's important to note that this change applies only to the women's game -- for now.  (This seems like another example of the NCAA using the women's game as a lab to test out potential rules changes for the men's game, though, and I'd be surprised if we didn't see this rule changed in the men's game within a few years.)

So yeah: college basketball games -- men's and women's -- are going to look different next year.  And, hopefully, better.  What do you think of the rule changes?