The Average Score of College Basketball Games

basketball in hoop
Game length is one factor that causes lower scores in NCAA basketball. (Image: Dick Luria/Photodisc/Getty Images)

On average, NCAA Division I men's teams manage 67.875 points in a game. NCAA Division I women's teams score an average of 60.937 points each game. These figures are calculated by adding 16 teams' point totals together on a particular night and dividing that number by 16. The Best Basketball Tips website points out that scores are typically in the 60s or 70s. NCAA basketball games are generally lower scoring than professional games, and several factors contribute to the difference in scoring.

Game Length and Personal Fouls

NCAA men's Division I games consist of two halves, each 20 minutes long. An NBA game is four quarters, each 12 minutes in length. NBA players have more time to generate a greater number of points, resulting in higher scores. Also, NCAA players are allowed only five personal fouls in a game before they are ejected. An NBA player is allowed to commit six before disqualification. If an elite NBA player, responsible for the majority of his team's scoring, has committed five personal fouls but not six, he can remain in the game and continue to rack up points.

Team Play and Shot Clock

College basketball emphasizes team play more than the NBA does. The NBA focuses more on one-on-one matchups, such as Lebron James vs. Kobe Bryant. NBA coaches design plays specifically for their superstars to showcase their abilities. A college basketball team with skills inferior to those of its opponent may use a strong defensive game plan to limit its opponent's scoring abilities. This type of strategy will result in a lower-scoring game. Another factor that contributes to lower scoring in NCAA play is the 35-second shot clock. The NBA uses a 24-second shot clock, which forces professional players to make shots more quickly and more often, leading to higher point totals.

Athletic Skill

On average, NBA players have greater strength and athletic ability than college players. Several NBA players were once college superstars and several of them may play on one NBA team. This skill level results in greater point totals. Since NCAA players are younger, between the ages of 18 and 23, they are also more prone to miss three-point shots and tend to give the ball away more often than NBA players. Also, NCAA players must attend school and worry about academics. NBA players can spend all of their free time perfecting their skills on the basketball court.

Defensive Rules

The NCAA has no limits on what type of zone defense you can play. Players can cover whatever area they wish, making it more difficult to score. In zone defense in the NBA, players can stay in a specific lane for a maximum of three seconds. This type of game play would open up more room for defensive breakdowns in the NBA, leading to higher point totals. Until the 2001-02 season, zone defense was completely illegal.

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