The sharpshooters of college basketball will have to take aim from a little further back starting next season, as the NCAA announced Wednesday that it will push back the 3-point line to the standard international distance.

NCAA 3-point line
The NCAA announced it will move its 3-point line for men’s play back to the international standard of 22 feet, 1.75 inches. (Image: Ronald Martinez/Getty)

That will move the 3-point line back to 22 feet, 1.75 inches, up from the 20 feet, 9 inches that is currently used in NCAA basketball.

Move Designed to Create Space

As with previous moves at various levels of basketball, pushing back the arc is intended to improve gameplay in two ways. For one, it will provide more spacing for offenses, which should allow for more dynamic play and more drives to the basket. More directly, it will also make 3-point shots a bit tougher, which might discourage shooters from going behind the line so often.

“After gather information over the last two seasons, we feel it’s time to make the change,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said when the change was first proposed in May. “Freedom of movement in the game remains important, and we feel this will open up the game. We believe this will remove some of the congestion on the way to the basket.”

While the 3-point line change will go into effect immediately in Division I play, the NCAA is delaying the change for Division II and Division III schools until the 2020-2021 season.

The change comes after the NCAA trialed the rule in the 2018 and 2019 National Invitation Tournament. According to the NCAA, teams averaged 23.1 3-point shots per game during the 2019 NIT, actually up slightly from the average of 22.8 during the regular season. However, the shooting percentage from behind the arc was down to 33 percent from 35.2 percent across regular season play.

The 3-point line was first used in NCAA play in the 1986-1987 season, when it was set at 19 feet, 9 inches. That distance was increased to the current length of 20 feet, 9 inches for men’s play in the 2008-2009 season, with women’s play also moving to that distance in 2011-2012. There has been no word as to if or when the NCAA plans to move the women’s line further back at this point.

NCAA Approves Several New Rules

Along with the new 3-point line, the Men’s Basketball Rules Committee also approved several other rule changes that will go into effect next season.

For instance, the shot clock will now be reset to 20 seconds rather than a full 30 seconds after an offensive rebound. This mirrors the NBA rule, in which only 14 seconds are put back on the shot clock after a rebound by the offensive team.

Another new rule will see players assessed with a technical foul if they use derogatory language about an opponent’s race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. Coaches will also be able to call live-ball timeouts during the final two minutes of the second half, and the final two minutes of any overtime periods.

Instant replay will also be slightly expanded, with officials now allowed to review for goaltending or basket interference in the final two minutes of regulation or overtime.

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