The NCAA intends to use this year’s NIT to experiment with a rule change that could be the precursor to men’s college basketball adopting four quarters instead of two halves.
In all 31 NIT games this season, team fouls will reset to zero at the 10-minute mark of either half. There will be no one-and-one free throw bonus. Instead, if one team commits four fouls during a 10-minute segment, its opponent will be awarded two free throw attempts for all subsequent fouls until the totals reset.
The purpose of the potential rule change would be to prevent foul-plagued games from getting bogged down with nothing but free throws down the stretch. A switch to four quarters would have the same effect, however, it would force the NCAA to alter when it takes TV timeouts.
This experiment comes two years after women’s college basketball switched from two 20-minute halves to four 10-minute quarters. The change led to a decrease in the number of free throws attempted and a slight increase in the pace of play.
“I think it’s been a great change,” UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma told NCAA.com last season. “I think it’s been great for the players, the coaches, the fans and for television. I don’t know anybody who hasn’t benefited from the four-quarter format.”
The NCAA also will use this year’s NIT to try out one other rule change designed to boost scoring by increasing the number of possessions per game. The shot clock will reset to 20 instead of 30 after a personal or technical foul in the frontcourt.
This is not the first time the NCAA has used the otherwise largely meaningless NIT as a guinea pig for potential rules tweaks. The NCAA also tested out the 30-second shot clock during the NIT two years ago.
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