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Why the Elam Ending won’t catch on in college basketball

It’s smoke and mirrors hiding behind the argument “don’t fouls suck?”

Villanova Mug Arizin Links

Happy Wednesday Nova Nation! As you may or may not know, The Basketball Tournament (TBT) is currently underway. Villanova didn’t have a team in the running this season, which is why you may not have been following. But for those that have you’ve seen not just some good basketball, but a few intriguing rule changes. The one that’s got the most attention by far is the implementation of the “Elam Ending” to every game of the tournament.

For a few years now we’ve heard about the “Elam Ending” and how it’s a better way to end a basketball game. Basically, at the Under 4 minute stoppage a target score is set. The first team to reach the target score wins the game. To determine the target score, you simply add 7 points to the leading team’s total. Simple, right?

The idea is that this method to determining a winner eliminates the “parade of fouls” that can sometimes occur at the end of basketball games. In fact, the article suggested for today’s Arizin by twitter user @EstebanDAmur goes on to say “It’s really difficult to see any negatives to the Elam Ending aside from the fact that it’s such a drastic, radical change and people are usually resistant to that kind of thing.”

Well allow me to play devil’s advocate then. I understand the thinking behind the suggested change, I don’t think it accomplishes what it wants to. In fact, it actually could make things worse. Here’s a few counter arguments against the “Elam Ending”:

  • While the Elam Ending does remove quick fouls from the end of the game, it doesn’t get rid of them. Instead, trailing teams need to foul in the minutes leading up to the Elam Ending if they’re significantly behind and need to extend the game. You really don’t want to enter the ending scenario trailing because...
  • Of the 48 games played in TBT this year, only twice (just over 4%) has the team trailing when the Elam Ending was triggered come back to win. This new scenario is all but deciding games with four minutes left to play instead of giving teams the full amount of time to attempt a comeback.
  • Not every game ends in fouling. This article tries to suggest that’s the only way basketball games can end these days. That’s not even how close basketball games end! While I agree that some games can be bogged down by late game fouls, the Elam Ending wouldn’t make those games less exciting or even necessarily end sooner.
  • This ending eliminates the most exciting shot in basketball: the buzzer beater. Saying every game ends on a game winner doesn’t mean anything if a team wins by 20. Every game has a game winning shot right now, the Elam Ending is just forcing it to end the game. Is there any Villanova fan out there that would give up Kris Jenkins’ National Championship buzzer beater to avoid fouling at the end of some games?

While I get the sentiment, there are other ways to change the game of basketball. I see this as more of a gimmick that doesn’t actually solve the problem it’s seeking to resolve, but rather creates new issues. I’m all for improving the game, and I think it’s great that TBT has basically branded itself as a testing ground for inventive new takes on the sport. But just because you test out a theory doesn’t mean it should become the new standard.

In other “news”, our boys talk DiVincenzo, Vegas is coming, and we’re all pulling for Andrew Jones. Enjoy!

The Elam Ending is the best thing to happen to basketball this century | The Comeback
The Basketball Tournament's adoption of the Elam Ending system of a target score has made its end-of-game situations much more watchable.

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