In July 2015, the NCAA Men's Basketball Rules Committee made one of the best rule changes in the last decade, if not longer. They voted to reduce timeouts to four per team (down from five), only three of which may be carried into the second half (down from four).
It's time to one-up themselves and reduce timeouts to three per team.
First, I'll play devil's advocate to my own argument to get it out of the way. Yes, removing another timeout eliminates another block of commercials, which during the Final Four, for example, is worth about $6 million. The NCAA already made a big concession two years ago by switching from five to four timeouts and eliminating TV timeouts when a timeout is called within 30 seconds of a TV timeout.
They need to make another concession for the sake of the game.
If both teams use all four of their timeouts — which is commonplace — there are 16 timeouts in a 40-minute game. That's one timeout every 2 minutes, 30 seconds. And that doesn't include injury timeouts and stoppages of play for replay reviews, substitutions, fouls and turnovers, among other things.
Why on earth do grown men need a break every couple minutes? Coaches are never more than 60-70 feet away from their players, a distance at which they can usually effectively communicate plays or instructions. Huddling off the court 16 times per game — plus additional semi-huddles or chats at other stoppages — is excessive. It crushes pace of play and makes for anticlimactic finishes, such as the one during Kansas State's near-upset of Kansas on Saturday.
In the final 75 seconds, there were three team timeouts and four total stoppages for one replay, two fouls and one jump ball. That is one break in play every 10.7 seconds. It crushed an otherwise entertaining game that ended with a missed three-point heave at the buzzer by Kansas State.
The NCAA rarely makes common-sense rules, but they did in 2015 and need to again in 2018.