The 2019-20 NCAA basketball season tips off today, and with it come a host of rules alterations that will affect bettors, both spread and totals players.
Notably, the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel signed off on moving the 3-point line to a distance of 22 feet, 1¾ inches for men’s games. That’s the same distance used in international competition, but less than the 23 feet, 9 inches in the NBA.
Men’s Basketball Rules Committee members recommended the change after receiving positive feedback from the annual rules survey from coaches whose teams competed in the 2018 and 2019 National Invitation Tournament, where the international 3-point distance was used on an experimental basis,” according to the NCAA.
That change is aimed at reducing dependence on three-point shots, which increased in frequency at the college level in recent years as coaches and players sought to emulate changes in the style of play in the NBA. Data suggest that while the longer distance may not be a deterrent to attempting the shots, it does affect the shooting percentage. That can impact outcomes for bettors needing a three-pointer here or there to cover a spread or top an over on a totals wager.
“Teams in the 2019 NIT averaged 23.1 field goal attempts in the tournament from behind the arc, compared with 22.8 3-point attempts in the 2018-19 regular season,” said the NCAA. “The 3-point shooting percentage of teams in the 2019 NIT was 33%, compared with their regular season average of 35.2%.”
But Wait…There’s More
Another NCAA rules shift is of the utmost importance to gamblers, that being a new edict prompting officials to come away from each game – even blowouts – with a “true score.” In plain English, that means seemingly innocuous shots taken late in games that have long since been decided will be reviewed for accuracy.
Additionally, players that are fouled late in contests with wide point differentials will be awarded free throws if necessary. Either scenario could increase the likelihood of bad beats or backdoor covers.
Here’s a hypothetical scenario on how the true score effort could affect gamblers. No. 1 Michigan State plays Binghamton on Sunday, Nov. 10, and the Spartans are likely to be prohibitive favorites. For the sake of argument, let’s say the line is Michigan State -20, meaning the Spartans need to win by at least 21 for backers of the favorite to collect on their wagers.
With 35 seconds left in the game, MSU’s up 64-46, has the ball, and rather than take a shot clock violation (the NCAA men’s shot clock is 30 seconds), a player from that team hoists up a successful three-point attempt. Officials can review that shot to ensure it’s valid, potentially providing some bettors with good fortune and others with losing tickets.
Another Important Change
Another rule shift in the NCAA men’s game that is likely to affect bettors over the course of the season is shot clock resets following offensive rebounds.
Previously, a team grabbing an offensive board off a missed shot that hit the rim was entitled to a full reset of the shot clock to 30 seconds. The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel opted to reduced that number to 20 seconds for this season, noting that “a full 30-second shot clock is not needed because the offensive team is already in the front court after securing the rebound.”
The NBA employed a similar change prior to the start of the 2018-19 season, awarding a 14-second shot clock to teams capturing offensive rebounds, down from the standard 24 seconds.