NCAA College Basketball

How does overtime work in March Madness?

An important game during the NCAA tournament this March will go to overtime. In fact, several will. That’s why it’s madness. In a sudden death elimination tournament like this one, there is nothing more intense than two teams duking it out in an overtime — or two, or even three — for the right to continue their season.

It’s why we love March Madness.

Fortunately, unlike most other sports, basketball overtimes are incredible simple. You don’t need to worry about who gets possession, or whether both sides will have an equal chance to score. You don’t have to worry about removing players. No, it’s just more basketball, until there is no longer a tie game. Basketball doesn’t do ties, after all. They just keep playing indefinitely until one team comes out above the other one.

There are a few things that are worth clarifying, however. Is your favorite team headed to overtime, say, RIGHT NOW? Here’s what you should know.


The overtime period will take five minutes. There is a one-minute intermission between regulation and overtime.


Overtime will begin with a jump ball, just like the beginning of the game. Teams will continue playing on the same basket as they did in the second half.


Coaches will receive one 75-second and one 30-second timeout at the start of the overtime period, and one more at the start of each consecutive overtime period thereafter. The first timeout called in overtime must be the 75-second one, which counts as the period’s media timeout. Coaches can also carry over any timeouts that weren’t used during regulation.


Fouls don’t reset and aren’t increased, so a player who has fouled out still can’t reenter the game. You often see backups playing crucial minutes for their team because starters are disqualified due to a fifth foul.


Any reviews that are legal in the final minutes of a game are also legal throughout the entire overtime period. This includes determining shot clock violations and out of bounds deflections.

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