Unlike most sports, the game of basketball owes its origins to the collegiate level. This occurred in 1891, when a YMCA International Training School coach named James Naismith was given the task of developing a game to keep track athletes in shape during the winter months.
Two peach baskets were originally used for goals, and the first basketball game took place on December 21st, 1891. It was played at YMCA locations over the next two years, and by 1893 it had spread to various college campuses.
The first known game between two college teams took place on February 9th, 1895. With nine players on each side, Minnesota A&M managed to defeat Hamline University by a score of 9 to 3.
The game has continued to develop and grow in popularity over the decades. The NBA has become one of the major sports leagues in the United States, and basketball is second only to football in regards to attendance and overall popularity at the collegiate level.
The most obvious distinction is that NBA players get paid for their efforts while college athletes are prohibited from making money. This rule even extends to video games, where the NCAA is free to profit from a player’s virtual likeness without any sort of compensation to the individual.
Men’s games in the NCAA are divided into two 20-minute halves. An NBA game, meanwhile, is arranged into four 12-minute quarters. That’s a total of 40 minutes for college players and 48 minutes for the pros. Players from the WNBA and women’s college basketball both play four 10-minute quarters.
Most of the court dimensions remain the same, although the three-point line is different. The NCAA three-point line is 20 feet 9 inches from the top of the circle, while it’s 23 feet and 9 inches at the professional level. The lane in the NBA and WNBA is 16 feet wide, while it’s only 12 feet under NCAA rules.
NBA players are allowed six personal fouls before being ejected from the game, while their NCAA counterparts receive only five. The NBA has introduced defensive restrictions to prevent coaches from slowing down the speed of the game, although college coaches are free to run any defense that they desire.
Each year in March, 68 of the top NCAA Division I teams in the nation compete in a post-season tournament known as March Madness or the Big Dance. Teams are seeded and placed into brackets, and they then engage in a series of single-elimination games to narrow down the field. This includes the “Sweet Sixteen,” the “Elite Eight,” and the “Final Four.”
Over the last few decades, bracket pools have become popular in conjunction with the tournament. Participants attempt to predict the winner of each game, and the person with the best record often walks away with a prize pool. These pools are also available across the Internet, with one even offering $1 billion to anyone who can accurately predict the outcome of every game (the odds of which are 1 in 9.2 quintillion).
UCLA has traditionally been the most successful school in tournament history, winning 11 national titles. They’re followed by Kentucky (eight), as well as Indiana, Duke, and North Carolina (each with five).
Betting lines can frequently be found for college basketball games, especially those involving traditional powerhouses such as Duke. This includes point spreads, money lines, over/unders, and a wide range of proposition bets. You could take a look at some of the free bets at legitgamblingsites.com before getting started.
While betting remains strong throughout the season, it kicks into high gear when March Madness rolls around. This is the biggest time of the year for sports betting, and only the Super Bowl comes close to matching the number generated by gambling-minded hoops fans.
In 2012, for example, it’s been estimated that $12 billion was wagered on the NCAA Men’s Division I Tournament. Legal sports bets accounted for about $100 million of this amount, while another $3 billion came through office pools. The remaining amount was made up of wagers between friends, with illegal bookies, and through offshore sportsbooks.
College basketball generates big money for everyone except the athletes who play the game, and it continues to grow in popularity with each passing year. The differences between the pro and college ranks are minor, which allows fans to follow the game with minimal confusion. There’s also the opportunity to watch collegiate athletes prior to stardom in the NBA, although a certain percentage of players elect to skip the university level entirely.