The NCAA makes rule alterations here and there each year,  but this year there are actually a few bigger changes worth talking about.

The biggest one is the move to a 30-second shot clock from the traditional 35-second timing. This is impactful for a number of reasons, but most important is the potential to significantly shape teams’ overall approach to offense and defense. Five seconds doesn’t seem like a whole lot on the surface, but it’s actually quite amazing how that can put the offense into more of a hurry-up mode. It also rewards defensive pressure, which means Havoc teams like the Gophers can actually benefit by creating a little more chaos. The NCAA experimented with the 30-second clock in last year’s NIT, which received positive reviews. The shot clock hadn’t changed since the game went to 35 seconds from 45 in the 1993-94 season. 45 seconds! Princeton would have love that one.

Teams will have fewer timeouts to work with after halftime as only three TOs will carry over to the second half. This is down from the traditional four TOs teams received. Not only does this look to reduce the stoppages that plague crunch time, it also adds an interesting strategic wrinkle in deciding when to call timeouts. Additionally, any timeout called within 30 seconds of a scheduled media timeout (the 16-, 12, 8- and 4-minute breaks) will be merged to increase the pace of play and prevent double timeouts that can happen.

Perhaps my favorite rule change — players faking fouls are liable for punishment if the refs determine they flopped. Officials can review the integrity of a call during flagrant foul video reviews. Duke and Wisconsin (two of the most egregious floppers in the game) can’t be happy about this, since flopping is such a key part of their approach.

The five-second “closely guarded” rule is no more, at least while dribbling, which means ball handlers won’t be called for not advancing or making a move towards the basket within five seconds of being guarded.

To reduce the number of collisions under the basket, the restricted-area arc will expand to four feet from three.

Other changes

  • Refs can use the monitor to review a potential shot clock violation on made field goals throughout the entire game. Yay logic!
  • Class B technical fouls (hanging on the rim and delaying the resumption of play, for example) are now one-shot technical fouls, instead of two.
  • No more prohibition on dunking in pregame warmups or halftime.
  • In lower-tier postseason tournaments, we’ll see some experiments with allowing six fouls per player instead of five. Harbinger of things to come?