What is the bonus in college basketball?

The bonus rule in college basketball is a bit different from the NBA's version of the penalty. How does the bonus work in college basketball?

Iowa State v Kansas State
Iowa State v Kansas State / Peter G. Aiken/GettyImages

The return of the NCAA Tournament brings a lot of casual fans back to college basketball for the first time in a calendar year. The idea of filling out the bracket to see if you can call that 12-over-5 upset is always exciting but people who normally focus on the NBA may be in for a bit of a culture shock with some of the different rules the college version of the sport uses.

One of the most common differences between the college game and the pros is the bonus, specifically how teams get awarded free throws when their opponent exceeds the limit for team fouls. The NBA's rule calls for a limit of four fouls per quarter with two shots for each defensive or loose ball foul committed after that. How does college basketball's bonus differ?

Explaining College Basketball's Bonus Rule

The criteria for the bonus differs in college basketball since teams play two 20-minute halves instead of four 12-minute quarters. As a result, teams can commit six fouls before they enter the bonus, which is handled in a unique way.

While all shooting fouls result in two or three shots, any non-shooting foul committed between the seventh and ninth team foul results in what is called the 1-and-1. Free throw shooters are guaranteed only one free throw and have to make it to earn the second attempt, meaning a miss that is rebounded by the opponent results in an empty trip.

The 10th team foul and beyond results in what college basketball calls the double bonus, where teams are guaranteed two free throw attempts for every loose ball or defensive foul. The counter doesn't reset in overtime like the NBA's does so once a team reaches the double bonus they are shooting two free throws for every foul the rest of the way.

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