Guide to Becoming a College Basketball Fanatic
Every March, some co-worker swings by your desk with a piece of paper outlining a bunch of college names and lines, asking if you “want in the pool.” They’re definitely not talking about a pool party but rather March Madness and college basketball. Stop dodging their texts and avoiding the break room for an entire month; it’s time for an education on college basketball. Our Guide to Becoming a College Basketball Fanatic will give you back March for good!
Over 300 college basketball programs make up the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) Division I. There are 32 different conferences to better organize and ease scheduling of games, including the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), the Big 12, the Big Ten, and the Pac-12.
Each team plays a regular season, matched mostly with in-conference rivals, with the hopes of being one of the 64 teams that makes it into the playoffs (commonly referred to as March Madness). This tournament is comprised of single-elimination games, reducing down to 32, 16, eight, and four schools with the ultimate goal of producing the two best teams and the championship title game.
College basketball games are shorter than those played by professionals in the NBA. Instead of taking place over four 12-minute quarters, college basketball takes place over two 20-minute halves. Teams transition quickly between offense and defense. Possession changes after a team scores or when the team on offense fails to score or is dispossessed by the team playing defense. This encourages teams to play quickly, moving the ball up and down the court, to take advantage of player mismatches.
If the game is tied at the end of regulation (two halves), an overtime period begins. Like the NBA, the teams play five-minute overtime periods until there is a winner.
Five on Five
Each team has five players on the court, with no minimums or maximums for the number of each position on the court. It becomes important for coaches to think about match-ups when placing the best team on the court to win the game (do they need tall shot-stoppers or speedy playmakers at that moment?). These positions are also associated with numbers, which you might hear the announcers reference:
- Point Guard (PG): 1
- Shooting Guard (SG): 2
- Small Forward (SF): 3
- Power Forward (PF): 4
- Center (C): 5
Here are a few student athletes that were lighting it up on the court for their respective college basketball programs during the 2015-2016 season:
- Point Guard: Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Florida State; Bronson Koeing, Wisconsin
- Shooting Guard: E.C. Matthews, Rhode Island; Malik Newman, Mississippi State
- Small Forward: Svi Mykhailiuk, Kansas; Steve Vasturia, Notre Dame
- Power Forward: James Webb III, Boise State; Troy Williams, Indiana
- Center: Tyler Davis, Texas A&M; Damian Jones, Vanderbilt
Basket Weaving 101
When making a basket, a team can receive one, two, or three points depending on where the shot originates from:
- 1 point: Shot from the free-throw line, and awarded when a player is fouled in the attempt to make a shot
- 2 points: Any shot made from the field within the 3-point line
- 3 points: Distance shots made anywhere beyond the 3-point line. In college, this distance is 20.9 feet (22 feet in the NBA)
Must-See Teams & Players
So you’re ready to hop on the court and start making threes, but hold on – you need to choose a team with exciting players to follow. We have a couple of recommendations:
- Duke Blue Devils: Led by “Coach K,” Duke competes every single year. They’re a perennial favorite loved by fans and hated by everyone else (which tends to happen when you’re really, really good).
- Kentucky Wildcats: The Wildcats, champions in 2012 and runners-up in 2014, stockpile plenty of talent but haven’t been able to come away with the title recently. What will Coach Calipari do to bring another title back to the Bluegrass State?
- North Carolina Tar Heels: Coach Roy Williams has delivered two National Championships since he took over the program in 2003, with the last awarded in 2009. Does he have the squad to make a deep run in the tournament this year?
Culminating with March Madness and the NCAA Tournament, college basketball inspires passionate fans (and co-workers for the office bracket pool) across the nation. Show off your team spirit and score a slam dunk by getting the best official licensed merchandise and apparel from Fanatics.com.