The NCAA is moving the 3-point line back again in an effort to improve floor spacing and make the shot more challenging for Division I players throughout the country.
Will it work? Opinions are mixed, though most around college basketball agree it will open up the floor for more driving lanes and chances to feed the ball into the post.
The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved the change this week, which will move the 3-point line back from 20 feet, 9 inches to the international distance of 22-1¾.
“Getting closer to the familiarity of the international line for kids, I think, is a good thing,” Butler coach LaVall Jordan said. “With a change, obviously the spacing on the floor, you maybe open up some areas when you have kids shooting deeper 3s.”
In 2008-09, the NCAA moved the 3-point line back a foot from 19-9 to 20-9. But with the rise in emphasis of analytics in college basketball, players kept bombing from long distance. Auburn, which reached the Final Four in 2018-19, led the nation in 3-point attempts at 1,204 and shot 37.7 percent from 3-point range.
Seven NCAA teams took 1,000 or more 3-point shot attempts last season, while Purdue — led by 3-point bombers Carsen Edwards and Ryan Cline — ranked ninth in the country in 3-point attempts at 977, taking 27.1 3-pointers per game.
Jordan doesn’t think moving the line back will impact the amount of 3s taken or the difficulty of the shot.
“I still find that a lot of my players, they are stepping back and taking shots that far behind the line,” Jordan said. “The game is producing more and more shooters. I don’t know if it will make it that much harder.”
In 2018-19, 18 Division I teams averaged making 10 or more 3-pointers per game, while nearly half of the teams in Division I (147 of 351) shot 35 percent or better from beyond the arc.
“Most guys shoot it with great range anyway, so I don’t think that would affect the scores of the game,” said former Virginia guard Ty Jerome, who shot 39.9 percent from 3-point range last season. “Also it will just increase spacing, help with the fluidity of the game. So it would probably be really good for college basketball.”
The NCAA has experimented using the international 3-point distance in each of the last two NIT Tournaments. In three NIT games last season, IU shot 29.5 percent from 3-point range, slightly below its season average of 31.4 percent.
“As far as the international line, I don't think that will be a problem,” IU coach Archie Miller said. “Guys shoot behind the line anyway.”
But former Belmont guard Dylan Windler, who was 16th in the nation in 3-point percentage at 42.9 percent last season, thinks there will be an adjustment for freshman coming up from high school.
“It’s not too far, but I think it will probably drop the percentages a little bit overall, just guys adjusting, younger guys coming from high school, making that jump to international right away from college,” Windler said. “It will definitely be a little bit of an impact but not too crazy.”
The 3-point line for Division II and Division III will be moved back to the international distance starting in 2020-21. The NCAA PROP approved four other proposals, including resetting the shot clock to 20 seconds after an offensive rebound (it was previously 30 seconds), allowing coaches to call live ball timeouts in the final two minutes of the second half and in overtime, assessing technical fouls for players using derogatory language about an opponent's race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability and conducting instant replay review for goaltending or basket interference calls in the final two minutes of the second half and overtime.