The NCAA is once again using the NIT as a laboratory for possible big rule changes

Imagine a college basketball game with a longer 3-point shot distance, four quarters instead of two halves, and a lane that's as wide as the ones on NBA courts.

You'll get to see it this March.

The NCAA announced Tuesday that, four the third time in four years, it will bring more attention and intrigue to the National Invitation Tournament by way of experimenting with potential rule changes. Four alterations to the college rulebook will be made in the NIT. They are:

• The 3-point line will be extended by approximately 1 foot 8 inches to the same distance used by FIBA for international competition (22 feet 1.75 inches).
• The free throw lane will be widened from 12 feet to 16 feet, consistent with the width used by the NBA.
• The games will be divided into four 10-minute quarters as opposed to two 20-minute halves. Teams will shoot two free throws beginning with the fifth foul of each quarter.
• The shot clock will reset to 20 seconds after an offensive rebound instead of the full 30 seconds.

These changes would only be in place for the NIT, not the NCAA Tournament. The NIT is a 32-team/31-game tournament. 

NCAA men's basketball can change its rules every two years. If any or all of these modifications wind up being a change for the better in the eyes of the coaches, the NCAA Men's Basketball Rules Committee, the Division I Men's Basketball Oversight Committee and the Division I Men's Basketball Competition Committee (yes, all of those groups), then the earlier we would see an overhaul is the fall of 2019. 

The notion of dropping halves in favor of quarters has gained momentum over the past decade. Men's college basketball is the only kind of basketball at the collegiate level or higher that still uses halves. 

The NCAA put in initiatives a few years ago to increase scoring and pace in college basketball. The data empirically proves over the past three seasons that hose initiatives have worked. Scoring is up and games have more possessions on average. These potential alterations could bring yet more dynamic and cosmetic appeal to college hoops. 

The NIT starts on Tuesday, March 13. Its semifinals and championship game will be held March 27 and 29, respectively, at Madison Square Garden. 

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning senior writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his ninth season reporting on college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics... Full Bio

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