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Daniel Wilco | NCAA.com | October 9, 2019

College and NBA basketball's biggest rule differences

Everything you need to know about March Madness

Spend a few minutes watching NCAA and NBA basketball and it's obvious that there are a lot of differences in the style of play between the two leagues.

But what about the set rules of each one?

Here are the biggest rule differences between Division I men’s basketball and the NBA:

Game time

NCAA: Regulation games run for a total of 40 minutes, split into two 20-minute halves. Overtime periods are 5 minutes long.

NBA: Regulation games run for a total of 48 minutes, split into four 12-minute quarters. Overtime periods are 5 minutes long.

WHAT IS MARCH MADNESS: The NCAA tournament explained

Shot clock

NCAA: Teams have 30 seconds to take a shot. The clock resets to 20 seconds if an attempted shot hits the rim.

NBA: Teams have 24 seconds to take a shot. The clock resets to 14 seconds if an attempted shot hits the rim.

Possession arrow/Jump balls

NCAA: The team that loses the initial jump ball automatically gets possession at the next jump-ball situation. A possession arrow on the scorers’ table indicates which team currently claims the next possession change.

NBA: The team that wins the initial jump ball automatically gets possession to start the third quarter. The team that loses the initial jump ball automatically gets possession to start the 2nd and 4th quarters. All jump-ball situations are resolved as actual jump balls between the two players involved. 

GOING DEEPER: The possession arrow explained

Personal fouls

NCAA: Players are disqualified from the game after five individual fouls (combination of personal and technical fouls).

NBA: Players are disqualified from the game after six individual fouls (combination of personal and technical fouls) or two technical fouls.

Technical fouls

NCAA: The opposing team is awarded two free throws and possession of the ball.

NBA: The opposing team is awarded one free throw. 

Team fouls

NCAA: After the seventh team foul in a half, opponents are awarded one free throw, unless it is an offensive foul. If they hit that free throw, they get one extra attempt (known as a 1-and-1 free throw). After the 10th team foul in a half, opponents are awarded two free throws, except for on offensive fouls.

NBA: After the fourth team foul in a quarter, opponents are awarded two free throws.

3-point line

NCAA: The 3-point line is 22 feet, 1¾ inches from the center of the basket. And 21 feet, 7 7/8 inches in the corners of the court.

NBA: The 3-point line is 23 feet, 9 inches from the center of the basket in most places, and 22 feet away in the corners of the court.

NEW CHANGES: Men’s college basketball 3-point line extended to international distance

Width of the key 

NCAA: The key is 12 feet wide.

NBA: The key is 16 feet wide.

For a better frame of reference, here are the court dimensions for the NCAA and NBA:

NCAA court dimensions:

NCAA court dimensions

NBA court dimensions:

NBA court dimensions

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