Don’t tell Michigan State guard Chris Hill that basketball isn’t a game of inches.
“An inch here or there can decide the difference in a game, as we found out against Kentucky.” Hill said.
In the Spartans’ 94-88 double-overtime Austin Regional win against Kentucky, officials spent more than five minutes reviewing whether Wildcat guard Patrick Sparks’ foot was on the 3-point line when he drained a shot at the end of regulation. The shot was ruled a 3-pointer, giving Kentucky second life.
The collegiate 3-point line is 19 feet, 9 inches away from the basket. Many in college basketball say the line should be moved back inches to the international mark.
“Obviously the 3-point line has great significance, especially during tournament play because that’s one of the key recipes for an upset,” Hill said. “I personally would say, ‘Keep it where it is.’”
Not surprisingly, Louisville coach Rick Pitino wants the line moved back.
Pitino’s Cardinals faced an incredible display of 3-point shooting against West Virginia in the Albuquerque Regional final. The Mountaineers were 18-for-24 from behind the 3-point line during regulation before cooling off to the tune of 0-of-3 in overtime.
Pitino said changing the 3-point line would make a difference in how the game is played.
“From a spacing standpoint to the low post, I think it’s just way too close,” he said. “Marginal shooters take the shot … I don’t believe you should run a fast break to the 3-point line.”
North Carolina center Sean May said the game today with the 3-point line is different from when his father played with Indiana in the 1970s.
“Back then, the game was played through the post. I think now, with the evolution, it’s got more guard play.”
Illinois, Louisville’s opponent in Saturday’s semifinal of the NCAA tournament in St. Louis, is a team dominated by guard play. The Illini depended on the 3-pointer in their come-from-behind 90-89 overtime win against Arizona.
Trailing the Wildcats 75-60, Illinois hit 4-of-5 3-pointers in the final four minutes of regulation, including junior guard Deron Williams’ shot with 38 seconds left that tied the game for the rest of regulation. In overtime, Willams’ hit two 3s to lead the Illini to victory.
In Louisville’s 72-57 loss to Illinois on Saturday, the Illini shot 12-of-30 on 3s, including a 6-of-11 performance from guard Luther Head.
Louisville guard Taquan Dean, who attempted a season-high 17 3-pointers against West Virginia, said he thinks moving the line won’t affect anything.
“Guys will adapt to it,” Dean said. “In most situations, guys are not shooting from the 3-point line anyway, they’re shooting back. It won’t change anything for shooters.”