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How long is Halftime in NCAA Basketball?

ncaa halftime

Unlike the NBA, NCAA College Basketball normally has one intermission rather than 3.

Of course, we are talking about games that finish in regulation - overtime is a different story.

As any basketball fanatic knows, the NBA is split into four quarters, while college ball only has two halves (at least in the Men's divisions).

NBA intermissions following quarters 1 and 3 are short compared to halftime. Halftime represents the biggest break for teams during a game.

The same applies to NCAA halftimes. 

As to how long these halftimes are in length, take a look below.

How long is Halftime in NCAA Basketball?

NCAA Basketball halftimes are 15 minutes in length. The halftime takes place after the first twenty minutes of play. For Division 1 tournament games (aka March Madness), 5 minutes may be added to the halftime intermission for a total of 20 minutes.

Halftime intermissions have many purposes, not only for NCAA Basketball, but for all sports.

Especially sports that are televised and can garner a big audience, such as March Madness.

Whether you’re a fan in attendance or watching it on TV, halftimes are used for the following purposes. 

Player Breaks

Games are intense and players exert a lot of energy to compete. It is only fair for players to get a break mid-game to rest and regain their energy. 

They likely also use that time to treat minor injuries such as aches, pains, sore muscles and so on.

While basketball is not considered to be a contact sport, there is a lot of bumping, pushing and blocking that goes on. 

Furthermore, players get called for personal fouls involving illegal contact against their opponent.

So, a little ice may be able to numb out the pain and restore their edge in the game.

Regroup and Talk Strategy

During the break, the coach will use that time to talk strategy with his players. 

If you’re the winning team, you’ll want to cover the elements that gave you the lead in the first place.

If your team can maintain composure, you can build on that lead and bring home the win.

Meanwhile, if you’re on the losing end, the coach will discuss tactics to close the score gap and keep the game tight.

Lastly, the score can be tied going to halftime and coaches will cover what their teams were doing right and wrong up to this point.

Spectator Breaks

If you’re a spectator in the crowd, you’ll likely need a bathroom or food break midway in the game. 

Remember, these games can last over 2 hours in real time.

Many in the audience are drinking alcohol, which leads to long lineups for the washroom.

Part of it can also be from the excitement and anxiety from the game itself.

All that mental and emotional stress causes hunger and other urges. The halftime is meant to deal with them without missing any of the action.

For those that stick around court side, you'll be entertained with a halftime show.

Embed from Getty Images


NCAA halftime is used to advertise their sponsors through television ads. This is in an addition to the TV breaks that occur during the game.

March Madness is their most lucrative time of year.

The tournament lasts for three weeks and rakes in about 90% of the NCAA’s income.

In 2021 alone, the NCAA earned $1.15 billion total in revenue.

Essentially, the money is redistributed to the Division 1 schools and conferences to improve academic programs, services, scholarships and more.

Keep in mind that the players don’t earn a dime from the profits. 

But you can now understand why they would add 5 extra minutes to the tournament halftime. 

Those additional minutes add up, especially with 68 teams facing off against one another in an elimination-type competition. 

How long is Halftime in NCAA Women's Basketball?

NCAA halftime for Women’s Basketball is 15 minutes in length. The main difference is that games are divided into four 10-minute quarters compared to the two halves for NCAA Men’s divisions.

The decision to split the games into four quarters was made to help speed the game up.

The NCAA changed the game format at the start of the 2015-16 season.

Halftime break was not affected.

As a reminder, only NCAA Division 1 tournament games have their halftime extended to 20 minutes long.

Final Thoughts

As an avid basketball fan, halftime is also a great time to listen to former players and experts weigh in on the game.

Not only will they break down the game to you thus far, but they will show you details or stats that went unnoticed.

A lot of experts would describe these subtle plays as the game within the game.

For example, a player could have stolen the ball or caused numerous turnovers that led to made baskets.

Those turnovers may have been overlooked by the average viewer, but not to those with a keen eye and basketball sense.

In any case, players from all sports would tell you that halftime and intermissions are key to a team’s in-game turnaround or success.