Men's Basketball

A How-To College Basketball Viewing Guide

Steve Woltmann | Loyola AthleticsThe men’s basketball team had the No.1 defense in the 2020-2021 season.

Basketball season is upon us, and fans are ready to get back in the stands at Gentile Arena for the first time since the 2019-2020 season. Overwhelming as it may seem, The Phoenix provides a breakdown to make watching a little less daunting.

What to know pre-season

Each team begins the season with a pre-season ranking. The Associated Press (AP) top 25 teams are ranked in how they performed last season, and how they are expected to perform this upcoming season. All teams are ranked within their conferences. The 25 most outstanding teams in all of the NCAA D1 are put on the top 25 AP poll.

Loyola was selected as No. 2 in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) going into the season, but wasn’t ranked in the AP top 25 poll when it was released on Oct. 18.

The MVC is a D1 conference within the NCAA consisting of 10 teams. Throughout the season the teams face each other in “conference play,” also known as “valley play.” At the end of the season, all of the teams within the conference receive a rank or seed from 1-10, and compete in the Arch Madness tournament, an MVC only tournament. 

Last season, Loyola won the tournament and continued on into the NCAA March Madness tournament. 

The pre-season poll is based off of the team’s performances in the previous season. Loyola is ranked higher due to their success last season, after making it to the sweet sixteen. They are ranked behind Drake University, who look promising after their success over the past few years, according to the MVC.

The AP poll will change throughout the season depending on each team’s record and how well they are playing. 

How long is a game?

Every college basketball game consists of two 20 minute halves. A game normally lasts a little over two hours, because of timeouts and halftime. Each team has five players on the court at each time, with substitutes available on the bench. 

The game is started by a jump ball, where one player from the starting five — five players who start the game — jump and try to swat the ball to their teammates. 

What are the positions?

There are five positions for the five players on the court at a time. Every player is assigned one specific position, though most players are versatile and can help in other ways. The point guard is the person who brings the ball down the court on offense most times, but other players do as well from time to time after a basket. The rest of the players are divided into one other guard, and three forwards. 

On offense, the point guard, shooting guard and small forward are at the top of the court, which is the part of the court closest to the mid court line, which divides it in half. The center forward and power forward are at the bottom of the court, which are closest to the basket. On defense, each player matches up with another player on the opposing team to defend. 

How does scoring work?

Each basket inside of the three point line is worth two points. The three point line is a big arc-looking line surrounding the basket on the court. Any shot made from behind the line counts for three points. 


Every player is given a maximum of five fouls per game. If a player gets five fouls, they are removed from the game. 

A foul is a violation of the rules, most commonly a personal foul, which is unruly contact with an opponent. There are many different types of fouls. Three different class types of fouls include personal, flagrant and technical. 

Flagrant and technical fouls are commonly called against unsportsmanlike conduct. Players get frustrated and shove their opponents, which can result in either a technical or flagrant foul, depending on the severity of the foul. 

Free Throws

Free throw shots are rewarded to the player who was fouled. The amount of free throw shots vary each time, but a common term used when a player shoots free throws is “shooting two”, meaning they get two shots. Each free throw counts for one point. 

The amount of shots depends on the type of foul committed, and how many fouls a team has in total. 

The teams try not to go into double bonus, which happens when a team has 10 or more fouls. The double bonus penalty means that whenever a player is fouled by the team in the bonus automatically gets two free throw shots. 

A player that is fouled when a team is not in the double bonus gets one free throw shot. 

A player can get three free throw shots if they attempt a three-point shot, miss the attempt, and are fouled in the process. 


There are six timeouts given to every team at the beginning of the game, three to be used in the first half and three in the second. The timeouts range from 30 to 75 seconds, depending if it’s a full media timeout or half. 

Now, basketball aficionado, you are ready for the season with your newfound or refreshed knowledge. Put your skills to work at Loyola men’s basketball exhibition game at Gentile Arena against University of Wisconsin-Stout Nov. 3. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will not be broadcasted.

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