College Basketball Is Moving The 3-Point Line Back, Which Is The Right Call


College basketball will have a new 3-point line during the 2019-2020 season. On Wednesday, the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight panel voted to make a number of changes, the most consequential of which concern the 3-point line and the shot clock.

First, the 3-point distance will move from 20 feet, 9 inches to the international distance of 22 feet, 1 3/4 inches. The committee cited its reasons for moving the line back:

  • 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.

In the 2019 NIT, the international 3-point distance was tested and the committee said it received positive feedback. Here are the relevant stats cited in the announcement:

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. The 3-point shooting percentage of teams in the 2019 NIT was 33%, compared with their regular season average of 35.2%. When the line was moved before the 2008-09 season, the distance went from 19 feet, 9 inches to 20 feet, 9 inches. The percentage of 3-point shots made during that season compared with the previous season declined from 35.2% to 34.4%. The percentage of made 3-point field goals steadily increased back to 35.2% in Division I by the 2017-18 season.

The panel also approved resetting the shot clock to 20 after an offensive rebound instead of giving a full shot clock to teams that snag an offensive board. That’s a monumental difference that should help keep games from getting bogged down.

Both of these changes are excellent for the health of college basketball. Moving the 3-point line back was long needed. It’s not bad that shots from beyond the arc had been weaponized in the game. In fact, I enjoy it. But moving the line back will open up the floor and should lead to more freedom of movement. Additionally, it rewards players who develop their 3-point shot even more.

As for the offensive rebound rule, it was an obvious move. The NBA has already adopted a similar version of it and it will lead to less time wasting and likely more possessions. And that’s what fans want.

The other proposals approved are below:

The panel approved a proposal where players will be assessed a technical foul should they use derogatory language about an opponent’s race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, gender expression, gender identify, sexual orientation or disability. Coaches will be allowed to call live-ball timeouts in the last two minutes of the second half and the last two minutes of any overtime periods. Previously, coaches weren’t allowed to call any live-ball timeouts during the game.

Additionally, in the last two minutes of the second half, or overtime, instant replay will be used if a goaltending or basket interference call has been made.

All of these changes should make the game better.