Differences Between NBA and NCAA Basketball


Basketball pic
Image: basketball.about.com

Kevin Waida studied communications and financial planning at the University of Missouri-Columbia. When he is not serving as a staff member at the Gustin Golf Course Kevin Waida enjoys following college basketball.

There are a number of differences between professional and collegiate basketball. Arguably the most obvious difference between the two involves the length and structure of games. National Basketball Association (NBA) games consist of four 12-minute quarters, with breaks between quarters and a half time. Collegiate basketball games, on the other hand, are broken up into to a pair of 20-minute halves. Both the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and NBA use five-minute overtime periods.

Differences can be seen at the play-by-play level as well. Professional basketball games feature a 24-second shot clock, while college games implement a 35-second shot clock. This small difference results in a faster pace of play in the NBA compared to a heavier emphasis on defense for college teams. NBA teams routinely break 100 points, while successful college teams may score only 50 or 60.

While both professional and collegiate basketball players contest games on a court measuring 94 feet by 50 feet, court dimensions vary as well. For example, professional basketball players must shoot from just under 24 feet, or 22 feet in the corners, to make a three point shot. The college three point line measures just under 20 feet along the perimeter. Similarly, the NBA painted area measures 16 feet wide compared to 12 feet in college games.


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