Tom Izzo argues with a referee during a game this season (Getty Images)
Amid all of the preseason handwringing over college basketball's new rules cracking down on hand-checking and physical contact, former rules committee chairman John Dunne remained confident this season would not be remembered as the year of the whistle.
"Once the players learn what's going to be called and what's not going to be called, they're going to adjust so they don't foul out of games," Dunne, the head coach of St. Peter's, told Yahoo Sports on Nov. 4. "You hope within a month or so, they start to make some changes and you see less fouls called out on the perimeter."
Three weeks into the new season, it appears the adjustments Dunne hoped players and referees would make have already begun taking place. The total number of fouls per game is still about 15 percent higher than last year's average of 35.3, but this season's average has declined each week since the season began.
Data collected by Yahoo Sports from the opening weekend of the season showed referees were calling an average of 42.3 fouls per game. According to KPI Competition Analytics, that declined to 41 fouls per game in week 2, 39.8 fouls per game in week 3 and 38.4 fouls per game so far in week 4.
There have not been any repeats either of the Seton Hall-Niagara whistle-fest from the second day of the season that featured 73 fouls and 102 free throw attempts between the two teams.
Of the 14 teams who committed 35 or more fouls in a game so far this season, all but three did so in a game Nov. 12 or earlier. Aside from an overtime game between Marshall and Morehead State that featured 76 fouls on Nov. 17, the most fouls of any game in the past two-plus weeks are the 63 Tulsa and Missouri State tallied on Nov. 16.
To show the overall impact made by the new rules this season, here are a handful of charts and graphs via StatSheet.com. They compare this season's stats to those of the past 17 years in an effort to show the increase in fouls, foul-outs, points per game and possessions per game.
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