While seemingly every sports league is finding ways to increase offense or inflate scoring, college basketball plans to go in the other direction.
The current NCAA three-point line is at 20 feet, 9 inches, and the new proposal would move it back to 22-1¾. That is the same distance used in the WNBA and international competition.
The current distance has been in use since the 2007 season, and it was also moved back then to decrease the rising number of three-point attempts in the college game.
If the Playing Rules Oversight Panel approves the change, then the new distance would go into effect for this 2019-20 season.
The target for the change for Division II and Division III is for the 2020-21 season.
“After gathering information over the last two seasons, we feel it’s time to make the change,” Tad Boyle, committee chair and coach at Colorado, said. “Freedom of movement in the game remains important, and we feel this will open up the game. We believe this will remove some of the congestion on the way to the basket.”
As part of the research into the change’s effects, the committee believes that a longer three-point line will increase spacing, make the lane more available for drives and reduce the growing number of three-point attempts.
In the 2014-15 season, Virginia Military Institute became the first team to attempt 1,000 three-pointers in a single season. Since then, 21 teams have attempted at least 1,000 three-pointers in a season and the trend showed no signs of decreasing.
The proposed new distance had already been implemented experimentally during the 2018 and 2019 NIT Tournaments.
Results from those tournaments showed that teams took a slightly higher percentage of three-point shots but converted a slightly lower number of attempts during the regular season.
Most NCAA coaches seem to be in favor of moving the line back, in part because three-point shooting has become too good at the college level.
“The time is right because it gets college guys close to the NBA line,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “The shooting has improved enough that moving back is warranted. The line back will create better spacing and help with freedom of movement.”
“I think the 3-point shot now has become easy for college basketball so moving it back to the international line is the right thing to do, and I think it will be impactful because the 3-point shot has changed the entire landscape of the game, and with it moving back a little bit you’re going to have to be that much of a better shooter,” said Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner.
“It’s time because it will open up the lane more and assist with freedom of movement. It will force players to extend their range. For those who now cannot shoot it, more teams will be able to double team the post or best player,” said Auburn coach Bruce Pearl, whose team led Division I with 1,204 three-point attempts last season.
The proposed three-point distance for college basketball would still be more than a foot-and-a-half shorter than the NBA three-point line, which is 23 feet, 9 inches at the top of the arc.
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