How Long are College Basketball Games? [All You Need to Know]

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All the games in the NCAA college basketball season are fun to watch. Each game has a different level of excitement depending on where the season is in its cycle. Do you want to know How Long are College Basketball Games? College basketball games only last 40 minutes, much shorter than the 96 minutes an NBA game can go on for.

College teams in the NCAA play two halves, each lasting 20 minutes. The shot clock is another big difference between college basketball and the NBA. In college basketball, players have 30 seconds to try to score, but in the NBA, they only have 24 seconds.

NCAA basketball games are so intense that the defenses are faster than in an NBA game, so it’s rare for a team to score 100 points or more in one game. In a fast-paced 40-minute NCAA basketball game, coaches teach players how to move faster.

How Many Minutes Total in a Basketball Game?

The total number of minutes played in a basketball game differs from league to league. High school, college, and the NBA all have different rules. We’ll look at the minutes for the NBA, the WNBA, the NCAA, and high school basketball.

NBA games are the longest of any basketball league, lasting 48 minutes. NCAA games for both men and women last 40 minutes. The length of a WNBA game is also 40 minutes. All games the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) approves are 40 minutes long. This includes the Olympic basketball games. Most high school basketball games last 32 minutes, but that can vary based on the league’s rules.

How Long is a College Basketball Game?

College basketball games for both men and women are 40 minutes long. The NCAA sets this. NCAA women’s basketball games are usually about 2 hours long. Each quarter lasts 10 minutes, and there are 4 quarters.

Men’s NCAA basketball games are usually between 2 and 2.5 hours long and are split into two 20-minute halves. The main reason the total time in women’s basketball is longer than in men’s is that halves give teams more time to get fouls and put the other team in the bonus.

Free throws take a lot of time because the game clock stops, and they can sometimes add time to the game. When the game is split into halves, there is more time for a team to commit 7 fouls, making each half’s end slower.

The NCAA has a 30-second shot clock and just started using video replay, which can make the game last longer because of how long it takes.

Read More: How Long is a Basketball Game

How Long is a Men’s College Basketball Game?

The average length of a men’s college basketball game is just over 2 hours, but this can vary a lot depending on how the game is going, how many timeouts are taken, and how many fouls are called. In men’s college basketball, there are two 20-minute halves. There is a 15-minute break in the game between these two periods.

Even though a college game is 8 game minutes shorter than an NBA game, the average length of a college game in real-time is only a couple of minutes shorter than an NBA game. This is because college games have a lot of timeouts and free throws, both during the game and at the end.

Every college game for men gives each team four timeouts. Three timeouts are for 30 seconds, and one is for 60 seconds. A team can only keep 3 timeouts from the first half into the second half. They lose it if they don’t use one of them in the first half. A 30-second shot clock is used in men’s college basketball games (source). It used to be 35 seconds, but it was cut down to make the game go faster and give each team more chances to score.

How Long are Women’s College Basketball Games?

Unlike men’s college basketball games, women’s games usually last two hours and have four 10-minute quarters.

Men’s and women’s basketball games used to be the same length. In 2015, new rules changed how the game was played. There are four quarters, the same as all other major leagues. There is also a break between these games’ second and third halves.

Like in the men’s game, each team gets about four timeouts during the game. Even so, the women’s groups can use them whenever they want.

How Long Does a College Basketball Game Last on TV?

How Long are College Basketball Games

Because of media timeouts, games that are shown on TV take a little longer than games that aren’t shown on TV. Media timeouts start when play stops at the 16, 8, 12, and 4-minute marks in each half for the men. The women’s media timeouts happen just before the 5-minute mark every quarter. Timeouts for the media can’t be longer than 60 or 75 seconds (depending on the media agreement). You might see one when a player gets called for a foul when the ball goes out of bounds or at pretty much any other point in a game when there is a dead ball.

TV Timeouts

Since we’re talking about TV coverage, you need to add TV timeouts. There are two TV timeouts when an NCAA game is shown on TV. Each timeout on a TV can take up to a few minutes. Giving each TV timeout two minutes adds eight to the game, bringing the total time to 56 minutes.


There might also be extra time. If the score is tied, both teams will likely commit more hacking fouls. Because of these fools, there will be more free throws, and the game will go on longer. So, the game could last for a long time.

Free Throws

Statistics show that each team gets 15 free throws on average during a basketball game. On average, it takes about 30 seconds to make two free shots. Each NCAA basketball game could have 30 free throws (FTs) on each side of the court. If each FT takes 30 seconds, the total FT time could be around 15 minutes. When you add this time to the 56 minutes we calculated above, you’ll have 71 minutes. That’s the same as an hour and eleven minutes.

TV Commercials and Interviews

When we talk about TV coverage, there is also extra time for TV commercials and mandatory interviews before and after the game. So, it’s not unusual for an NCAA game to last two hours or more when you watch it on TV.

Read Also: How Many Baseball Games in a Season

How Long is Halftime in College Basketball?

During the regular college basketball season for both men and women, there is a 15-minute break at halftime. If there is an exceptional performance or awards ceremony, halftime can last slightly longer than 15 minutes. During the NCAA tournament, the break between halves lasts for 20 minutes.

During halftime, TV networks can show many different ads for their sponsors. The sportscasters will also report halftime about how well each team did in the first half.

Which Sport Has The Longest Halftime Breaks?

The halftime break in college football is longer than in any other sport. After playing two quarters, college football teams get a 20-minute break. College football teams can agree before the game to take a shorter break at halftime, but this doesn’t happen often.

Interestingly, the halftime break in the NFL is only 12 minutes long. But at significant events like the Super Bowl, halftime can last up to 30 minutes because there are so many activities, and the halftime shows are so long.

How Long are College Basketball Game Quarters?

If you watch an NBA or WNBA game, you’ll notice an excellent 4 quarter system. They play a little differently, with each quarter for women lasting 10 minutes and each quarter for men lasting 12 minutes. In international basketball, like in many European leagues or FIBA, each quarter is 10 minutes long. You might also hear this at the Summer Olympics games or the World Championships.

In women’s college basketball, each quarter is only 10 minutes long, the same as the WNBA and FIBA. This makes sense for the women’s game and seems to work. It’s what all the pros use, so going from college to the pros isn’t too much of a change, at least from a game-length point of view. If only the women in college basketball use the quarter system, what do the men use?

Also Read: How Long is a Lacrosse Game

What Factors Affect the Length of Basketball Games?

Several things can cause the clock to stop during a basketball game, such as:

Fouls, Injuries, and Free Throws

The game clock stops when there are fouls, injuries, balls that go out of bounds, and free throws. The game clock stops until a throw-in or jump ball puts the ball back in play. Find out how fouls are called in basketball.

Halftime Break

To answer the question, “How long are college basketball game last?” we must consider the halftime break. The halftime clock in college basketball is set to 15 to 20 minutes. When you add this time to the previous one hour and 11 minutes, you get one hour and 31 minutes.


If an NBA or WNBA team uses all of its time-outs in one game, it can add up to nine minutes to the game’s length. But each team can only take one full time-out per quarter and can’t use more than three time-outs in the fourth quarter. If two or more time-outs are left in the fourth quarter, the 75-second time-out is cut to 20 seconds. Time-outs don’t add much time to high school and college games.


The length of a basketball game can also be changed over time (OT). There is no limit on how many overtime periods a team can play in an NBA game. In the NBA, WNBA, and FIBA, each overtime period is five minutes long, and each team gets a few extra time-outs for every overtime period played. College basketball games for both men and women can have as many overtime periods as they want.

Shot Clock

The shot clock is a timer that tells a basketball team how long it can have the ball before taking a shot. If the shot clock runs out before a couple tries to make a field goal, they lose the ball. In 1954, the NBA started using a 24-second shot clock, while the FIBA, the WNBA, and college basketball used 30-second clocks. But in 2000 and 2006, FIBA and the WNBA switched to the twenty-four-second clock.

How Many Timeouts Are in a Basketball Game?

The NBA game clock stops a lot, so the league has tried to speed up games by limiting how many timeouts teams can use. As of the 2017-18 season, NBA teams can take seven timeouts per game. Each team only gets two timeouts in the last three minutes. This differs from the last two minutes, when each team could use three timeouts.

In these professional games, each timeout lasts 75 seconds. The NBA used to let teams take timeouts for 100 seconds and “20-second” timeouts that were more like 60 seconds.

The NCAA lets each game have three 30-second timeouts, and two can be carried over to the second half. Each team also has one 60-second timeout that can be used at any point during the game. Rules for high school games are like those for college games.

You can Read: How Many Periods in Hockey


Even though basketball games in different countries and leagues have additional rules, they tend to last about the same time. Because players can only run up and down a basketball court so many times before they get too tired and need a break, this can happen too early in a basketball game.

But NBA games are usually the longest because there are four quarters instead of three or two, and timeouts need to be spread out reasonably evenly during a game. So everyone can play without getting tired from running up and down the court. Depending on many things, a college basketball game can last anywhere from 1.5 hours to more than 2 hours. The audience will find watching and following the game more accessible if they know how long it takes to play.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about How Long are College Basketball Games

Why does it take so long for these Basketball games?

Basketball games can never end in a tie because there must always be a winner. So, there are different kinds of extra time, from high school to professional, to make sure there is a winner.

How Long is Overtime?

There is a five-minute overtime period if the game is tied at the end of regulation in the NBA, WNBA, NCAA Men’s, or NCAA Women’s. In high school basketball, the extra time lasts for four minutes.

When does the college basketball season begin? 

Most of the time, the games start in early November. This year, the season didn’t start until late November.

How many fouls do college basketball players get? 

Players are kicked out of the game when they get their fifth foul.

How many games do teams play in a season? 

In the old way of doing things, a regular season has 33 games. Because of how the COVID-19 pandemic affected different teams, this season has fewer games.

How many minutes in a college basketball half?

The first half of a collegiate basketball game lasts 20 minutes, and the second half lasts 20 minutes for 40 minutes. In professional basketball, halftime usually lasts 15 minutes; if the game ends in a tie, there is a five-minute overtime period.

How Many Quarters are There in College Basketball Games?

Most college women’s basketball games have had two halves. But in 2015, the NCAA agreed that there should be 4 quarters in women’s college basketball, just like in the professional WNBA. The quarter method is only used in college basketball for women.

Why is college basketball only 2 quarters?

This makes the game harder to win. When halves are longer, there are fewer breaks in the game. This means there are more chances to score, the game moves steadily, and games are closer between a broader range of teams.


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