ROSEMONT, Ill. – One of the central developments in basketball over the last decade has been a matter of simple math. Teams at all levels, from the Golden State Warriors down to small high school squads have realized three is more than two.
That epiphany has led to an explosion of 3-point shooting, especially in the NBA and college basketball in the 2010s. In college, Division I men’s teams made an average of 7.8 3-pointers per game in 2018-19, an all-time high.
To combat the rising tide of 3-pointers and give slashers some extra room to work in the middle of the floor, the NCAA’s rules committee decided to move the 3-point line back from 20 feet, 9 inches to the international competition line of 22 feet, 13/4 inches this season.
The change is the first to the college 3-point line since 2008, when it was moved back from 19 feet, 9inches.
If history is any guide, the line moving back won’t dissuade teams from chucking from deep, at least in the long term. In the shorter team – this season, for example – there might be a dip in attempts. Teams shot 0.8 fewer 3-pointers per game after the distance changed in 2008, but attempts quickly rebounded as shooters adjusted.
Purdue coach Matt Painter, whose team ranked eighth in the country in 3-pointers made last season at 10.1 per game, said the new line will affect everyone differently depending on preexisting skills.
“I think the guys that can make 3s, it’s probably not going to bother much, and the guys that are trying to (become) 3-point shooters, it’s really going to bother,” Painter said. “We have a couple guys that are working towards trying to make 3s now. (The new line) made it really hard for them.
“But the guys that already shoot 3s that walk on campus and that’s the reason they’re there, we really look into their skill level when we take them.
“As the season progresses and you look at guys’ percentages, I think you can end up seeing, for certain teams, people really packing it in and making you earn it from the 3-point line.”
Wisconsin coach Greg Gard, whose team ranked in the top 40 nationally in opponent’s 3-point percentage last season, had a different take. He expects the difference in the game to be minimal.
“As I’ve watched it with our team through the summer and then now this fall, players adapt really quickly,” Gard said. “It’ll be interesting to see what the percentages do. I think they may dip a little bit.
“Does it change defensive concepts, does it…