The Guide to Basketball

Now that football is officially over, its time to jump right into basketball season. Even though the season started back in November now is the perfect time to tune in. With March quickly approaching NCAA Men’s Basketball are pushing full speed ahead in their journey to the tourney, also known as March Madness.

But before we start talking bubble watch and bracketology let’s start with the basic basketball rules you need to know. Basketball gets a little bit complicated because the rules differ from College Basketball to the NBA. So I broke it down into the top 5 rules you need to know and how the rules apply in the NCAA vs. NBA.

1. Quarters vs. Halves (playing time)

NBA: The NBA has four, twelve minute quarters

NCAA: The NCAA has two, twenty minute halves 

Both NBA and NCAA have 5 minutes of playing time in the case that the game goes into overtime.

2. Shot Clock

NBA: 24 seconds

NCAA: 35 seconds

In addition to the 12 min quarters and 20 min halves each team has these allotted seconds to carry out plays and attempt to make a shot. In the case that a shot is taken, hits the rim, yet does not go in the shot clock will reset and the team will get another opportunity to score if they got the rebound. If the shot clock runs out before the team attempts to make a shot a buzzer will sound and the refs will call “shot clock violation” and gives the ball to the other team. The shot clock is very important to game strategy. When it comes down to the final minutes of a close game successfully using the shot clock to your advantage can win games.

3. Fouls

The fouling situation can get a little bit complicated so bare with me.

Fouling Part I:

First off there are 3 different types of fouls that can be called, a personal foul, flagrant foul, and technical foul.

A personal foul is the most common type of foul. This type of foul is called when there is significant contact that is the result of illegal conduct by one opposing player on another.

Some examples personal fouls are;

Fouls in the act of shooting. This type of foul leads to 2 free throws.

Non-shooting fouls, the refs will call the foul and give the team with possession the ball out of bounds. 

The second type of foul that can be called is a flagrant foul. A flagrant foul is considered violent player contact that the official believes is not a legitimate attempt to directly play the ball within the rules. The foul shows excessive, unjustified of unsportsmanlike contact between opponents. The NCAA and NBA will call a flagrant-1 foul for unnecessary contact, a player will be ejected for having this penalty called on them twice in one game. A flagrant-2 foul is contact that is both unnecessary and excessive and resulting in immediate ejection.

basketball animated GIF  (Metta World Peace is the best at unnecessary and excessive fouls)

The third type of foul is a technical foul. This type of foul does not fit the description of regular fouls. A technical foul can be called on a player in the game, another player, a coach, or against the team as a whole. When a technical foul is called the player(s) who were effected by the foul get an opportunity to shoot two free throws with no one in the key. All players other than the shooter must stand behind the half court line. A technical foul will be called when there is:

  • unsportsmanlike conduct outside of the scope of the game, such as taunting, fighting, profanity, or conduct toward an official.
  • a personal foul committed by a player who has fouled out of the game but is readmitted to the game because of the lack of substitutes.
  • Illegal gamesmanship such as a delay of game

(look at the ref coming in from the right haha what kind of run is that?!)

Fouling Part II:

Personal Fouls

NBA: Each player has 6 personal fouls to give before they can no longer play or “foul out”

NCAA: Each player has 5 personal fouls to give before they foul out.

Team Fouls- each personal foul counts towards the teams total fouls.

NBA: When a team reaches 5 team fouls per quarter it puts the opposing team in the bonus or penalty. Starting at five fouls and every foul following the opposing team gets two free throw attempts.

NCAA: When a team reaches 7 team fouls per half it puts the opposing team in the bonus or penalty. Starting at seven fouls the opposing team gets one free throw attempt. If they make that first free throw they get the opportunity to shoot again. This is also known as “one and one.” When a team reaches 10 team fouls per half the opposing team goes into double bonus. At this point all fouls are worth 2 free throws.

Team fouls play a strong role in game strategy in college basketball. When a foul is called it stops the clock and teams in the bonus get the opportunity to take one to two uncontested shots. Stopping the clock with fouls means there are more opportunities to score before the game is over.

4. Possession– All games start with a jump ball which determines who has first possession, it is called the opening tip.

NBA: Possession is always determined by a jump ball. After the initial jump ball at center court when a possession dispute occurs the ball is put into play by a jump ball at the circle which is closest to the spot where: (1) A held ball occurs (2) A ball out-of-bounds caused by both teams occurs (3) An official is in doubt as to who last touched the ball.

NCAA: Possession is tracked by the possession arrow. In the case of a jump ball or when there is a possession dispute the arrow, which is typically found on the score board or at the scorers table, will determine which team gets the ball.