The history of basketball is traced back to a YMCA International Training School, known today as Springfield College, located in Springfield, Massachusetts. The sport was created by a physical education teacher named James Naismith, who in the winter of 1891 was given the task of creating a game that would keep track athletes in shape and that would prevent them from getting hurt a lot. The date of the first formal basketball game played at the Springfield YMCA Training School under Naismith's rules is generally given as December 21, 1891. Basketball began to spread to college campuses by 1893.
College basketball today is governed by collegiate athletic bodies including the United States' National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA), the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), and the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA). Governing bodies in Canada include Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) and the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA). Each of these various organizations are subdivided into from one to three divisions based on the number and level of scholarships that may be provided to the athletes.
The first basketball games were played at YMCAs in 1891-1892. By 1893, the game was being played on college campuses.
The original rules for basketball were very different from today's modern rules of the sport, including the use of 8 players per side. In the beginning James Naismith established 13 original rules:
- The ball may be thrown in any direction with one or both hands.
- The ball may be batted in any direction with one or both hands, but never with the fist.
- A player cannot run with the ball. The player must throw it from the spot on which he catches it. An acceptance to this rule is to be made for a man running at good speed.
- The ball must be held by the hands. The arms or body must not be used for holding it.
- No shouldering, holding, pushing, striking, or tripping in any way of an opponent is allowed. The first infringement of this rule by any person shall count as a foul; the second shall disqualify him until the next goal is made or, if there was evident intent to injure the person, for the whole of the game. No substitution shall be allowed.
- A foul will be called when a player is seen striking at the ball with the fist, or when violations of rules 3 and 4 and such as described in rule 5 have been made.
- If either side makes three consecutive fouls it shall count as a goal for the opponents ("consecutive" means without the opponents in the meantime making a foul).
- A goal shall be made when the ball is thrown or batted from the grounds into the basket and stays there, providing those defending the goal do not touch or disturb the goal. If the ball rests on the edges, and the opponent moves the basket, it shall count as a goal.
- When the ball goes out of bounds, it shall be thrown into the field and played by the first person touching it. In case of dispute the umpire shall throw it straight into the field. The thrower-in is allowed five seconds. If he holds it longer, it shall go to the opponent. If any side persists in delaying the game, the umpire shall call a foul on them.
- The umpire shall be the judge of the men and shall note the fouls and notify the referee when three consecutive fouls have been made. He shall have power to disqualify men according to rule 5.
- The referee shall be judge of the ball and shall decide when the ball is in play, in bounds, to which side it belongs, and shall keep the time. He shall decide when a goal has been made and keep account of the goals, with any other duties that are usually performed by a referee.
- The time shall be two fifteen-minute halves, with five minutes rest between.
- The side making the most goals in that time shall be declared the winner.
The first known college to field a basketball team against an outside opponent was Vanderbilt University, which played against the local YMCA in Nashville, Tennessee, on February 7, 1893. The second recorded instance of an organized college basketball game was Geneva College's game against the New Brighton YMCA on April 8, 1893, in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, which Geneva won 3–0.
The first recorded game between two college teams occurred on February 9, 1895, when Hamline University faced Minnesota A&M (which later became a part of the University of Minnesota). Minnesota A&M won the game, which was played under rules allowing nine players per side, 9–3. The first intercollegiate match using the modern rule of five players per side is often credited as a game between the University of Chicago and the University of Iowa, in Iowa City, Iowa, on January 18, 1896. The Chicago team won the game 15-12, under the coaching of Amos Alonzo Stagg, who had learned the game from James Naismith at the Springfield YMCA. However, some sources state the first "true" five-on-five intercollegiate match was a game in 1897 between Yale and Penn, because although the Iowa team that played Chicago in 1896 was composed of University of Iowa students, it reportedly did not officially represent the university, rather it was organized through a YMCA. By 1900, the game of basketball had spread to colleges across the country.
The Amateur Athletic Union's annual U.S. national championship tournament (first played in 1898) often featured collegiate teams playing against non-college teams. Four colleges won the AAU tournament championship: Utah (1916), NYU (1920), Butler (1924) and Washburn (1925). College teams were also runners-up in 1915, 1917, 1920, 1921, 1932, and 1934.
The first known tournament featuring exclusively college teams was the 1904 Summer Olympics, where basketball was a demonstration sport, and a collegiate championship tournament was held. The Olympic title was won by Hiram College. In March 1908, a two-game "championship series" was organized between the University of Chicago and Penn, with games played in Philadelphia and Bartlett, Illinois. Chicago swept both games to win the series.
In March 1922, the 1922 National Intercollegiate Basketball Tournament was held in Indianapolis – the first stand-alone post-season tournament exclusively for college teams. The champions of six major conferences participated: Pacific Coast Conference, Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association, Western Pennsylvania League, Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association and Indiana Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The Western Conference and Eastern Intercollegiate League declined invitations to participate. Wabash College won the 1922 tournament.
The first organization to tout a regularly occurring national collegiate championship was the NAIA in 1937, although it was quickly surpassed in prestige by the National Invitation Tournament, or NIT, which brought six teams to New York's Madison Square Garden in the spring of 1938. Temple defeated Colorado in the first NIT tournament championship game, 60–36.
In 1939, another national tournament was implemented by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The location of the NCAA Tournament varied from year to year, and it soon used multiple locations each year, so more fans could see games without traveling to New York. Although the NIT was created earlier and was more prestigious than the NCAA for many years, it ultimately lost popularity and status to the NCAA Tournament. In 1950, following a double win by the 1949–50 CCNY Beavers men's basketball team (when the NIT comprised 12 and the NCAA 8 teams), the NCAA ruled that no team could compete in both tournaments, and effectively indicated that a team eligible for the NCAA tournament should play in it. Not long afterward, assisted by the 1951 scandals based in New York City, the NCAA tournament had become more prestigious than before, with conference champions and the majority of top-ranked teams competing there. The NCAA tournament eventually overtook the NIT by 1960. Through the 1960s and 1970s, with UCLA leading the way as winner of ten NCAA Tournament championships, a shift in power to teams from the west amplified the shift of attention away from the New York City-based NIT. When the NCAA tournament expanded its field of teams from 25 to 32 in 1975, to 48 in 1980, to 64 in 1985, and to 68 teams in 2011, interest in the NCAA tournament increased again and again, as it comprised more and more teams, soon including all of the strongest ones. (Expansion also improved the distribution of playing locations, which number roughly one-third the number of teams in the field.)
In 2011, the NCAA field expanded to 68 teams and the last 8 teams playing for four spots making the field into 64, which is called the first round and so on. The former first round is called the second round, the second round is called the third round, and the Sweet Sixteen is the same, but it is technically the fourth round in the current format, etc.
In 2016, the field did not expand, but the round numbers changed again. The first four games containing the last 8 teams is now referred to as the first four. Consequently, the first round does not start until the first four games are out of the way and the field is narrowed to 64 teams. SO after the first four games the first round starts instead of that being the second round. The Second is now when there are 32 teams left, the sweet sixteen is the third round, and so on.
NCAA Division I
In 2016–17, a total of 351 schools are playing men's basketball in 32 Division I basketball conferences. All of these schools also sponsor women's basketball except The Citadel and VMI, two military colleges that were all-male until the 1990s and remain overwhelmingly male today.
The conferences for 2016–17 are:
In the early decades of college basketball, and well into the 1970s, many schools played as independents, with no conference membership. However, the rise of televised college sports in the 1980s led to the formation of many new conferences and the expansion of previously existing conferences. The last Division I school to play as an independent in basketball was NJIT, which was forced to go independent in 2013 after the collapse of its former all-sports league, the Great West Conference. NJIT joined the Atlantic Sun Conference in 2015, leaving no Division I basketball independents.
NCAA Division II
There are 24 Division II basketball conferences. The conferences are as follows:
There are 2 independent Division II schools without conference affiliations for the 2016–17 season.
The most recent change in the list of Division II conferences came after the 2012–13 season, when the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC) folded. In June 2012, the conference's nine football-playing members announced a split from the six non-football schools. Eight of the nine schools that announced the split eventually joined with one WVIAC non-football member and three other institutions to form the Mountain East Conference, which began play in the 2013–14 season. Of the remaining schools, three joined the Great Midwest Athletic Conference and two joined the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, with one becoming an independent.
NCAA Division III
* Conference sponsors football
NAIA Division I and II
National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) Divisions I and II
- Central Region
- East Region
- Mid-East Region
- Mid-West Region
- North Central Region
- South Region
- Southwest Region
- West Region
National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Divisions I,II, and III
- Alabama Community College Conference
- Arizona Community College Athletic Conference
- Arrowhead Conference
- Bi-State Conference
- Carolinas Junior College Conference
- Colorado Community College Athletic Conference
- Eastern Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference
- Garden State Athletic Conference
- Georgia Junior College Athletic Association
- Great Rivers Athletic Conference
- Illinois N4C Conference
- Illinois Skyway Conference
- Iowa Community College Athletic Conference
- Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference
- Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference
- Massachusetts Community College Athletic Association
- Metro Athletic Conference
- Michigan Community College Athletic Association
- Mid-Florida Conference
- Mid Hudson Conference
- Mid-State Athletic Conference
- Mid-West Athletic Conference
- Minnesota College Athletic Conference
- Mississippi Association of Community & Junior Colleges
- MISS-LOU Junior College Conference
- Missouri Community College Athletic Conference
- Mon-Dak Conference
- Mountain Valley Conference
- NJCAA Region 9
- North Texas Junior College Athletic Conference
- Northeast JC Football Conference
- Ohio Community College Athletic Conference
- Panhandle Conference
- Pennsylvania Collegiate Athletic Association
- Scenic West Athletic Conference
- Southern Conference
- Southwest Junior College Conference
- Southwest Junior College Football Conference
- Suncoast Conference
- Tennessee Junior and Community College Athletic Association
- Western Junior College Athletic Conference
- Western New York Athletic Conference
- Western Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference
- Western States Football League
- Wyoming Community College Athletic Conference
- Northern Region
- Southern Region
- Eastern Region
- Western Region
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. A growing number of poor and under-educated, but 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 who had not yet graduated from college. After a season of junior college, a season at the University of Detroit, 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. Supreme Court 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 Fame 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 (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, and John Wall), 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.
College basketball remains more popular than the NBA in some regions of the United States, such as in North Carolina and the upper Midwest (where traditionally strong programs at Louisville, Kentucky, and Indiana are found).
Distinctions with NBA and WNBA 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. A parallel committee sets rules for college women's play. Although many of the NBA and WNBA rules apply in NCAA play, there are differences that make NCAA play unique.
As of the current 2016–17 season, NCAA men's games are divided into two halves, each 20 minutes long; NBA games are played in four quarters of 12 minutes each; and WNBA and NCAA women's games are played in 10-minute quarters. The NCAA shot clock gives teams of both sexes 30 seconds to shoot, while the shot clock used in both the NBA and WNBA gives teams 24 seconds. Also, NCAA teams are allowed 10 seconds to move the ball past the halfcourt line (with this rule only having been added to the women's college game in the 2013–14 season), while NBA and WNBA rules allow only 8 seconds. However, like the NBA and WNBA (and high school basketball), during the last minute of each period, the game clock keeps time remaining in the period measured in tenths of a second, rather than full seconds.
Prior to the 2015–16 season, NCAA men's basketball used a 35-second shot clock, while NCAA women's basketball was played with the same 20-minute halves as the men's game.
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 23 feet 9 inches (7.24 m) 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 19 feet 9 inches (6.02 m), but the NCAA Rules Committee voted in May 2007 to extend it a foot more to 20 feet 9 inches (6.32 m), which became effective beginning the 2008–09 season. The WNBA's three-point line was 6.25 m (20 ft 6 in), which FIBA used before it extended its three-point arc to 6.75 m (22 ft 1 1⁄2 in) at the top of the circle and 6.6 m (21 ft 8 in) at the corners and baseline. The NCAA lane measures 12 feet (3.7 m) in width, while the NBA and WNBA lane is 16 feet (4.9 m); the FIBA lane is marginally wider than the NBA/WNBA lane at exactly 4.9 m (16 ft 1 in).
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. However, the WNBA allows players six personal fouls despite playing the same number of minutes as the NCAA. The number of team fouls allotted is also different. In all three competitions, 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, WNBA, and (since 2015–16) NCAA women's basketball, 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 addition, if an NBA team has not entered the penalty in the last two minutes of a period, its team foul count is reset; the second team foul in the last two minutes triggers the penalty. The WNBA has the same rule, except that the "reset" does not occur until the final minute of a period. In the NCAA men's game, 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). Unlike NBA/WNBA rules, the team foul count does not reset in the last one or two minutes of a half (men's) or quarter (women's). Overtime periods are considered an extension of the second half under NCAA men's rules and the fourth quarter under NCAA women's rules, but not under NBA/WNBA rules; in those leagues, the fourth team foul in any overtime period, or the second in the last one (WNBA) or two minutes (NBA), triggers the penalty.
When a dispute over ball possession arises, the jump ball is used in the NBA and WNBA. 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.
NCAA teams can call a timeout after they made a basket (Indiana scores a 3-point field goal and calls a timeout); in the NBA and WNBA, only the opposing team can call a timeout after a basket is made. Since the 2015–16 season, NCAA men's coaches have been banned from calling timeouts from the bench while the ball is live, although players remain free to do so.
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 and WNBA; 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.
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 most 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 white during the playoffs. The WNBA, however, follows the college rule for all games.
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, and appropriate shoes and socks, including dress shoes, dress boots, or other presentable shoes, but not including sneakers, sandals, flip-flops, or work boots. The WNBA has a similar dress code, adjusted for standard women's attire. NCAA rules have no set dress code rule, leaving it up to individual teams or conferences.
The organizations also have different rules for jersey numbers. While the NBA and WNBA allow players to wear any number from 0 to 99, including 00, so long as it is available, the NCAA disallows any jersey number with a 6, 7, 8, or 9 in it. This is done to allow the referee to report fouls using hand signals with one hand, as each hand has only five fingers. High school basketball, whose rules are set by the National Federation of State High School Associations, also follows the NCAA's convention on jersey numbering.
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. Games other than NCAA D-I are rarely televised by national media, although CBS televises the Championship Final of NCAA 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 Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri. (in 1994–2001 it was held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and 1937–1999 it was held at Municipal then Kemper Arena in Kansas City). Media coverage has sporadically been provided by CBS, the Victory Sports Network, and various lesser-known media.
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 State have won NAIA and NCAA Division II national titles.
National Invitation Tournament (NIT)
- Men's college basketball awards
- Women's college basketball awards
- National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame
- Sporting News College Basketball Athlete of the Decade (2000–09)
Records and lists
- NCAA Men's Division I Basketball all-time wins and losses
- NCAA men's basketball coaches win list
- NCAA Men's Division I Final Four appearances by school
- NCAA Men's Division I Final Four appearances by coaches
- List of the NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament Final Four participants
- NCAA Men's Division I Tournament all-time team records
- NCAA Men's Division I Tournament bids by school
- NCAA Men's Division I Tournament bids by school and conference
- NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship records
- NAIA Men's Basketball Championships
- NIT all-time team records
- NIT bids by school and conference
- NIT championships and semifinal appearances
- NCAA Men's Division I basketball statistical leaders
- List of NCAA Division I men's basketball coaches
- NCAA Women's Division I Tournament bids by school
- NAIA Women's Basketball Championships
- AIAW Women's Basketball Champions
- List of NCAA Division I women's basketball players with 3000 points
- NCAA Men's Division I Basketball alignment history
- Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW)
- AIAW Women's Basketball Tournament
- Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS)
- Canadian Colleges Athletic Association (CCAA)
- National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA)
- NAIA Men's Basketball Championship
- NAIA Women's Basketball Championship
- Black participation in college basketball
- Women's basketball#University
- College athletics
- College rivalries
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