“The Basketball Tournament” is a $2 million, winner-take-all event mostly consisting of alumni of previous schools and former college basketball players. It’s a fun tournament that fills the offseason gap in the summer where there isn’t any basketball being played. Well, apart from the NBA Summer League.

Anyway, since this is an independently run tournament and not affiliated with the NCAA or NBA, the people of The Basketball Tournament have the ability to experiment with the rules and are using a unique system called the “Elam Ending” to end their basketball games in hopes to eliminate the need for teams intentionally fouling at the end of a game in order to try and mount a comeback.

Here is how ESPN’s Zach Lowe describes the scenario:

At the first dead ball under the 4:00 mark, the clock will go dark as officials add seven points to the score of the leading team. The first team to reach that score wins. If Team A leads Team B, 78-70, when the clock stops with 3:58 left, they play until one reaches 85.

In other words, once there is the first dead ball after four minutes left, the first to a certain score wins. This has been used in games before and this is an example of how a game ends with the Elam Ending.

The Elam Ending was created by Nick Elam, a professor at Ball State University and based on average points scored per minute, devised the system where it’s at the four minute mark in college play and three minute mark in the NBA. The system, while unorthodox and unique, has intrigued many including Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey.

While this would ideally cut down on intentional fouling and make for faster, more entertaining play, this isn’t a perfect system. Two notable consequences from the Elam Ending is that there won’t be any overtime and there isn’t any natural buzzer beaters. Sure, with a game ending on a shot, every last shot is a buzzer beater. But there’s nothing like seeing the clock run down and seeing a last second winner as the buzzer sounds. Also, a game could end on a free throw and that would be a bit of a downer if a game ended on a free throw.

Either way, it’s at least an attempt to end intentional fouling and it probably doesn’t hurt to test out. It’s still a long way before this becomes a part of the NCAA and NBA but people are paying attention.


About Phillip Bupp

News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing, highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them.

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4 thoughts on “A new way to end basketball games may finally bring an end to intentional fouling by trailing teams

  1. Its insane how the past year or so has suddenly found that every sport needs improving.
    Perhaps people need to improve their attention spans.

  2. This is STUPID it NEVER ALLOWS for OVERTIME: next it unfairly favors the team leading, also it changes the entire game in the final minutes for no real reason it makes for a confusing finish that you would have to explain to EVERYONE over and over again it is a DUMB stat geek system that has NO place in real games

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