How Long is a College Basketball Game? – Complete Guide

The duration of time taken to play the college basketball game varies from other basketball leagues. The game time for a college basketball consists of two 20-minute halves plus 15-minute halftime in between. The time spent for timeouts, overtime, and personal fouls are also counted that’s why in total, it may take one or two hours for a game to be completed.

Whenever you watch a basketball game, have you noticed each game’s length for each category? The truth is, college basketball has a different game length than other basketball games in other categories. Learn how long a college basketball game is and what factors contribute to the time one game spends.

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History of the college basketball game

The college basketball game was invented in 1891 by James Naismith, an education teacher. He was tasked to keep the students physically fit during the winter season. By 1891, college basketball began to be played by students in different schools 1893. 

Nowadays, the college basketball game is governed by a collegiate athletic body that includes 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), but the famous and most active in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

Factors that affect the length of the game

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Besides the whole duration of game time, other factors contribute to a basketball game’s length, and here are some of them:

1. Game time

The college basketball game has a duration of 40 minutes that is divided into two 20-minute halves. There is a 15-minute halftime period between halves of the game.

2. Shot clock

The shot clock is a timing device wherein the player who holds the ball is only given a certain time to make a move. It aims to speed up the game.

For NCAA women’s, the team is given 30 seconds to take a shot. While for NCAA men, they are given 24 seconds to take a shot. The clock starts over again with 20 seconds duration if the attempt to shoot the ball only touches the ring.  

3. Timeout

A timeout is considered an abrupt break within the game. A team calls for timeouts as a strategy to avoid a violation, or it could be a chance for rest. Time outs also vary depending on the game’s category.

A coach or a team player can ask for it. If the game is televised, time-outs are used so that the TV channel can show ads. Both men and women NCAA games consist of two 30-second and four 75-second time outs. 

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4. Personal Fouls

For a college basketball game, if the player incurs a total of five fouls of either personal or technical foul, the player will be disqualified from the competition. 

5. Overtime

If there are teams on tie or match, instead of declaring two champions, overtime or extra time to play the game is given to come up with a decision. Another reason why there is overtime is if the team incurred fouls. Fouls lead to more free throws that could mean an extended time. For a college basketball game, the overtime lasts for five minutes.

How many games are there in a college basketball season?

There is no exact count on how many games are there in a college basketball season. If the basketball team reached the tournament, it is expected to have at least 35 to 40 games. If the team doesn’t make it to the tournament, the total game will range between 30 to 32. However, in 2018, the NCAA recorded 41 games in that season where seventeen teams played.


To conclude, the duration of a college basketball depends on different factors such as overtime, timeouts, personal and team foul, and shot clock. The game may last between an hour or two that’s why the college basketball game is often described as the longest game among other leagues.

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