Back in November, there was a good deal of speculation about the changes that the NCAA had made to college basketball's rules and, more specifically, to its officiating. The talk back then was that the new approach likely would result in an increase in foul calls.
That is exactly what has happened. In major-conference play this season, the overall foul rate (FTA/FGA) has clocked in at 0.40, a noticeable increase from last season's 0.35. More free throws -- combined with fewer turnovers and a faster pace -- have led to an increase in scoring, which was the NCAA's stated goal all along. In that sense, the so-called rule change has been successful.
Of course, any change in or tweak to the rules will affect teams differently. So, following through on earlier work done by the always excellent Dan Hanner, I thought now would be a good time to take a look at which teams are thriving and which ones are suffering in this foul-happy new era of college hoops.
Let's first consider two teams that appear to have been hurt by the new brand of hoops.
Any way you slice it, Oregon's performance has taken a big hit subsequent to the game's new emphasis on calling defensive fouls. We can't say with certainty that this has been cause-and-effect, but the numbers sure aren't pretty. First and most obviously, the Ducks' foul rate against conference opponents has soared since last season. In major-conference play, only North Carolina (keep reading) and UCLA have recorded larger year-to-year increases in their foul rates. Aside from Mike Moser, Dana Altman's entire frontcourt rotation -- Ben Carter, Richard Amardi, Elgin Cook and Waverly Austin -- is composed of players who average at least six fouls per 40 minutes.