American Culture, Life at KU

Getting to Know College Basketball


What is basketball?

Schools have a men’s team and a women’s team. So you get double the chances to enjoy the dazzling action. There are usually two games a week from November through February, leading up to the March Madness tournament for top performing teams.Basketball is the second most popular sport worldwide, and is especially popular at American universities. Each year, sports fans get excited about the NCAA college basketball tournament. Even if your school isn’t participating that year, it’s easy to get caught up in the fun. No wonder the tournament’s nickname is “March Madness!”

How college basketball works

KUBasketballCourtCollege basketball is played by two teams of five players on a rectangular court 94 feet (roughly 28.5 meters) by 50 feet (roughly 15.25 meters). At both far ends of the court is a circular basket 10 feet (3 meters) above the floor. The goal is to get a round orange ball into the basket, or hoop.

Once a team scores, the defending team gets a chance as the offensive team. To advance the ball up the court, a player must either move while dribbling (bouncing the ball) or pass the ball to another player.

There are several ways to score in college basketball:

  • Shooting the ball – The player throws the ball through the basket, usually while jumping in the air. Worth 2 or 3 points, depending on how far the player is from the hoop.
  • Making a layup – The player moves towards the basket and gently lays the ball up into the hoop, often by bouncing the ball off the backboard behind the hoop. Worth 2 points.
  • Dunking the ball – The player jumps and slams the ball down into the basket. Possibly the fan favorite way to score, worth 2 points.
  • Making a free throw – After getting fouled, or illegally interfered with, the player gets a free shot to score. Worth 1 point.

College basketball games have two halves of 20-minutes each, with a halftime break in between. During halftime, fans typically use the bathroom, get drinks and snacks, chat about the game so far or enjoy a performance by the cheerleaders.


Teams you need to know

KUBasketballTeam+SourceYour school teams (men and women): University of Kansas Jayhawks

Mascot: Big Jay

Team colors: Crimson and royal blue

Conference: Big 12 Conference

Rivals: Missouri Tigers and Kansas State Wildcats

Noteworthy: The Kansas Jayhawks men’s team recently made it to the Final Four of the 2012 March Madness tournament, and won the entire tournament in 2008. The women’s team has made two straight Sweet Sixteen tournament appearances.


Get involved and have fun

Watching college basketball is a popular pastime for students. Attending some live games at the Allen Fieldhouse is a great way to show your Jayhawks pride, socialize with fellow students and experience the thrill of live basketball.

One popular tradition is the Rock Chalk Chant, one of the most famous college cheers. Before your first game, memorize this exciting chant:

Rock-chalk-Jay-Hawk, K-U-U-U

Rock-chalk-Jay-Hawk, K-U-U-U



Rock-chalk-Jay-Hawk, K-U!

You can learn more about the men’s Jayhawks team and the women’s Jayhawks team online. Another great way to increase your knowledge is by asking other students. It’s a great conversation starter before and during games, and a fun way to meet other students.


Love sports? Check out our other post, Getting to Know American Football.

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