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College basketball most often refers to the American basketball competitive governance structure established by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Basketball in the NCAA is divided into three divisions: Division I, Division II and Division III.


Division I

A map of all NCAA Division I basketball teams.
There are 347 schools in 32 Division I basketball conferences. Each conference, except for the newly formed Great West Conference, receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship. The conferences are as follows:

There are also 6 independent Division I schools without conference affiliation, for the 2009-10 season.

Division II

A map of all NCAA Division II basketball teams.

There are 22 Division II basketball conferences. The conferences are as follows:

There are also 18 independent Division II schools without conference affiliation, for the 2009-10 season.

Relationship to professional basketball

In past decades, the NBA held to tradition and drafted players who had graduated from college. This was a mutually beneficial relationship for the NBA and colleges—the colleges held onto players who would otherwise go professional, and the NBA did not have to fund a minor league. As the college game became commercialized, though, it became increasingly difficult for "student athletes" to be students. Specifically, a growing number of poor, under-educated, highly talented teenage basketball players found the system exploitative—they brought in funds to schools where they learned little and played without income.

The American Basketball Association began to employ players whose college classes had not yet graduated. After a season of junior college, a season at the University of Detroitmarker, and an Olympic gold medal, Spencer Haywood played the 1969-70 season with the ABA's Denver Rockets. He signed with the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics in 1970, before his college class graduation, defying NBA rules. Haywood pleaded that, as his family's sole wage earner, he should be allowed to earn a living in the NBA or else his family would face destitution. The ensuing legal battle went to the U.S.marker Supreme Courtmarker which ruled in 1971 that the NBA does not have the same antitrust exemption enjoyed by Major League Baseball. Thereafter, collegiate players demonstrating economic hardship were allowed early entry into the NBA Draft. The hardship requirement was eliminated in 1976.

In 1974, Moses Malone joined the Utah Stars of the American Basketball Association (which became part of the NBA after the ABA-NBA merger in 1976) straight out of high school and went on to a Hall of Famemarker career. The past 30 years have seen a remarkable change in the college game. The best international players routinely skip college entirely, many American stars skip college (Shawn Kemp, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Dwight Howard, Amar'e Stoudemire and LeBron James) or only play one year (Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Kevin Durant, Greg Oden) and only a dozen or so college graduates are now among the 60 players selected in the annual NBA Draft. Fewer high schoolers will progress directly to the NBA without at least one year of college basketball beginning in 2006; citing maturity concerns after several incidents involving young players, the labor agreement between players and owners now specifies that players must turn 19 years of age during the calendar year of the draft to be eligible. Additionally, U.S. players must be at least one year removed from their high school graduation.

The pervasiveness of college basketball throughout the nation, the large population of graduates from "major conference" universities, and the NCAA's marketing of "March Madness" (officially the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship), have kept the college game alive and well. Some commentators have argued that the higher turnover of players has increased the importance of good coaches. Many teams have been highly successful, for instance, by emphasizing personality in their recruiting efforts, with the goal of creating a cohesive group that, while lacking stars, plays together for all 4 years and thus develops a higher level of sophistication than less stable teams could achieve.

Distinctions with NBA play

The NCAA Men's Basketball Rules Committee, consisting of coaches from all three divisions of the NCAA, sets the rules for college men's basketball play. Although many of the NBA rules apply in NCAA play, there are differences that make NCAA play unique.

An NCAA game is divided into two halves, each 20 minutes long, while NBA games are played in four quarters of 12 minutes each. The NCAA shot clock gives a team 35 seconds to shoot while the NBA's shot clock gives teams 24 seconds. Also, NCAA teams are allowed ten seconds to move the ball past half court, while NBA rules allow only eight.

Though the height of the basket, the foul line's distance from the backboard, and the court dimensions are the same, the distance between the three point line and the backboard is different. The NBA three point line measures at the top of the circle, or 22 feet (6.7 m) in the corners or baseline. On the NCAA court, the three point line had been a constant , but the NCAA Rules Committee voted in May 2007 to extend it a foot more to , which became effective beginning the 2008–09 season. The NCAA lane measures in width, while the NBA lane is .

NCAA players are allowed five personal fouls before fouling out, as opposed to their NBA counterparts, who are allowed six. This maintains the same ratio of minutes of play per foul allowed, eight. The number of team fouls allotted is also different. In both NBA and NCAA games, team fouls can be categorized as shooting or non-shooting. A shooting foul occurs when a player gets fouled in the act of shooting(while airborne), giving him the chance to shoot free throws. A common foul (non-shooting foul) consists of all other fouls, including making contact with the opposing player while "reaching in" to steal the ball.

A team may make a certain number of non-shooting fouls per period before the opposing team is awarded free throws. In the NBA, the fifth team foul in a quarter places the team in penalty. For every foul starting with the fifth, whether it's shooting or non-shooting, the opposing team receives two free throws. In the NCAA, the penalty begins with the seventh team foul in a half. However, the fouled player must make the first free throw in order to get the second. This is called a "one and one" or "one and the bonus" situation. On the tenth team foul, the "double bonus" situation comes into play, meaning that every subsequent team foul results in two free throws for the opposing team. It should be noted that no free throws are shot at either level for a player control foul, which is an offensive foul (usually a charge).

When a dispute over ball possession arises, the jump ball is used in the NBA. In the NCAA, once the first possession has been established from the opening tip, no further jump balls occur except to begin an overtime period. Since 1981, a possession arrow on the scorer's table has dictated which team should possess the ball, with the arrow switching directions after each use.

In addition, the NBA limits what types of defense a team can play, primarily in an effort to prevent coaches from slowing down the pace of the game by using zone defenses. Zone defense is permitted in the NBA; however, players cannot stand in the lane for more than three seconds if they are not guarding anyone. In NCAA basketball, no such restriction exists, and coaches are free to design a variety of defensive techniques.

The uniforms even have similarities to the NBA. In college basketball, it is required by rule that the home team wears their white or light-colored jerseys while the visiting team wears their darker jersey color. The NBA, like other professional sports leagues, lets the home team decide which uniform to wear, but with a few exceptions the home team has continued the tradition of the college game and wears white (or in the case of the Los Angeles Lakers for non-Sunday home games, gold) at home. This is for regular season play only; home teams always wear whiteduring the playoffs.

The NBA introduced a new dress code rule in 2005. Now players are required to wear Business Casual attire whenever they are engaged in team or league business. This includes A long or short-sleeved dress shirt (collared or turtleneck), and/or a sweater. Dress slacks, khaki pants, or dress jeans.Appropriate shoes and socks, including dress shoes, dress boots, or other presentable shoes, but not including sneakers, sandals, flip-flops, or work boots. NCAA rules don't have a set dress code rule for the entire Association. One must follow the rules of the team/Conference.

The two also have different rules for jersey numbers as well. While the NBA allows players to wear any number from 0-99 (including 00) so long as it's available, the NCAA restricts it somewhat by only allowing any jersey number that doesn't have the digits 6, 7, 8, & 9. (e.g. 0/00-5, 10-15, etc... up to 50-55.) This is done to aid the referee when reporting fouls, since each hand only has five fingers. High school basketball also follows the NCAA's convention on jersey numbering.

Other divisions

While less commercialized than Division I, Division II and Division III are both highly successful college basketball organizations. Women's Division I is often televised, but to smaller audiences than Men's Division I. Generally, small colleges join Division II, while colleges of all sizes that choose not to offer athletic scholarships join Division III. D-II and D-III games, understandably, are almost never televised, although CBS televises the Championship Final of Division II, while CBS College Sports Network televises the semifinals as well as the Division III Final.

The NAIA also sponsors men and women's college level basketball. The NAIA Men's Basketball National Championship has been held annually since 1937 (with the exception of 1944), when it was established by James Naismith to crown a national champion for smaller colleges and universities. Unlike the NCAA Tournament, the NAIA Tournament features only 32 teams, and the entire tournament is contested in one week instead of three weekends. Since 2002 the NAIA National Tournament has been played in Municipal Auditoriummarker in Kansas City, Missourimarker. (From 1994-2001 it was held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and from 1937-1999 it was held at Municipal then Kemper Arenamarker in Kansas City).

Since 1992, the NAIA has sponsored a Division II championship, similar to the NCAA Division I and II.

The only school to have won national titles in both the NAIA and NCAA Division I is Louisville; the Cardinals have also won the NIT title. Southern Illinois has won NAIA and NIT titles. Central Missouri and Fort Hays Statemarker have won NAIA and NCAA Division II national titles.

See also


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