How long is a basketball game

How long is a basketball game

Pro and college basketball games both have a set duration, but various aspects can eventually expand their duration. Discover how long is a basketball game and a few factors that influence game duration.

Whether you’re a player or a supporter, knowing the intricacies of basketball is vital. And one of the most important things to understand is the basketball game timeframe.

How long does a basketball game last?

There is no absolute solution because leagues and associations have different rules. Check out the association’s rulebook you compete for the most up-to-date information.

Basketball is a spectator sport. The sport was first officially played in 1981 and has grown significantly since then. Like all major sports, basketball underwent significant change, with professionalization eventually transforming amateur players into modern-day superstars.

Basketball players are now as well-known as politicians and top officials. You may not be aware of the length of a game. The lifespan of a basketball varies.

The length of a basketball game, like any other sport, is determined by several factors.

One is the gender of the participant. Two, the age range of those taking part. The third factor is the level of competition. Four, the type of match it is. And the number of players on the court is five.

How Long Are Basketball Games?

How long is a basketball game

What distinguishes basketball from many other sports is that someone has to win. For example, when watching football/soccer, teams can escape with a draw. This means that each side receives a portion of the points. This cannot occur in basketball. What makes basketball so unique is that teams are frequently fighting to keep the game from going into overtime.

If you’re wondering how long a basketball game lasts, we’ll look at some key facts and figures below. The goal will be to break down the times you can expect to sit for a game.

So, how long can you mind sitting through if you’re at a basketball game?

Basketball games differ considerably, which is ascertained by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and other supervisory authorities. The following is a breakdown of the various game lengths in various basketball leagues.


National Basketball Association (NBA) games are forty-eight minutes long, with four twelve-minute quarters. However, the game clock halts for a variety of reasons during that forty-eight-minute period, including fouls, halftime, and timeouts.

Consequently, typical NBA games during the preseason may last two to two and a half hours, while games during the playoffs and finals may last three hours. The longest NBA game in history lasted 78 minutes, with six overtimes, and was played on January 6, 1951, in Rochester, New York, between the Rochester Royals and the Indianapolis Olympians. The Olympians eventually won by a score of 75–73.


 Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) games are forty minutes long, with two 20-minute halves. Again, timeouts lengthen each game, and regular-season games can last two to two and a half hours. On June 8, 2002, the Orlando Miracle and the Cleveland Rockers played the longest basketball game in WNBA history. The Miracle prevailed, 103–99, in a game that lasted two hours and fifty-seven minutes, including three overtime periods.


College basketball games are forty minutes long and are overseen by NCAA, NAIA, and other governing bodies. However, that time includes two twenty-minute halves in men’s college games, whereas women’s college games have four ten-minute quarters.

In 1981, the longest NCAA basketball game was played. The game between Cincinnati and Bradley University lasted 75 minutes and featured seven extra hours.

High School

High school basketball games and youth games are thirty-two minutes long, with each divided into four eight-minute quarters, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSHSA). A high school basketball game lasts approximately 90 minutes in real-time.

What Factors Affect the Length of Basketball Games?


If an NBA or WNBA team uses all of its timeouts in a single game, the game can be extended by up to nine minutes. Teams must, however, take one full timeout per quarter and may not use more than three timeouts in the fourth quarter.

If two or more timeouts are left in the fourth quarter, the rules reduce the 75-second timeout to twenty seconds. Timeouts only add about two minutes to NCAA and high school games.


 The halftime period adds fifteen minutes to the length of an NBA, WNBA, or college game. The sport cannot extend halftime, which may already appear lengthy to viewers watching the game on television due to commercial breaks that occur during the halftime break.

Fouls, injuries, out-of-bound balls, and free throws

The game clock is stopped for fouls, player injuries, out-of-bound balls, and free throws. The game clock stops until the ball is returned to play via a throw-in or jump ball. Start understanding the rules of basketball fouling. 

Overtime (OT):

The length of a game is also affected by overtime (OT). There is no limit to the number of overtime periods that teams can play in NBA basketball games. Each overtime period lasts five minutes in the NBA, WNBA, and FIBA, and each team receives a handful of extra timeouts for each OT period played.

The number of overtime periods allowed in men’s and women’s college basketball games is unlimited.

Shot clock

 A shot clock is a countdown that decides how long a basketball team may possess the ball before attempting a shot. The NBA incorporated a twenty-four-second shot clock in 1954, while FIBA, WNBA, and college basketball games all used thirty-second clocks. Even so, the FIBA and the WNBA adopted the 24-second clock in 2000 and 2006, respectively.

Overtime in Basketball


If an NBA match is tied at the end of legislation, the teams will enter a five-minute overtime period, with 130 seconds between regulation and overtime play. Each team will have two twenty-second timeouts per overtime period, and there will be no limit on the number of substitutions for basketball players.


The overtime period in college basketball is also five minutes long. However, they only get one timeout (75 seconds) at the start of each overtime period.


 Overtime in WNBA games is also five minutes long, as it is in NBA games. However, in the WNBA, the time between regulation and overtime is only 120 seconds. WNBA teams have two twenty-second timeouts during overtime but can only substitute one player.

Longest NBA game

The longest NBA game was played on January 6, 1951, at Edgerton Park Arena in Rochester, New York, between the Indianapolis Olympians and the Rochester Royals.

This match lasted 78 minutes and was won by the Olympians 75 to 73. This was a six-overtime game, and it is even listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Longest college game

This game in history was relatively shorter, but it was still remarkable. On December 21, 1981, it took place between the Cincinnati Bearcats and the Bradley Braves, and the Bearcats won 75-73.

The game lasted 75 minutes, just 3 minutes longer than the historic Olympians vs. Rochester Royals match. And interestingly, this game gave birth to another record. Bobby Austin of Cincinnati and Donald Reese of Bradley each played 73 minutes on the court, a record that stands today. 

The exact length of a basketball game

The question still remains that how long is a basketball game? In all honesty, it depends on when you see a game. When overtime is factored in (which can range from 5-minutes to 3-minutes per side, depending on the tournament), the game can easily last more than an hour and a half. A game lasts about two hours on average. As a result, you should plan on spending at least two hours watching the game.

Given that overtime can continue indefinitely until someone wins in the 5-minute overtime period, this could take as long as it takes. Basketball does not have ties, so there must be a winner on the night. The Indianapolis Olympians and the Rochester Royals played the longest basketball game in history in 1951.

However, keep in mind that higher stakes matches, particularly Finals, will be longer due to the possibility of more overtime being required. Fouls, violations, timeouts, and other such issues are also far more common in high-stakes matches. As a result, it’s easy to see the game lasting longer than two hours in a high-stakes match.

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To summarize, basketball has many different levels with different timings. As a result, knowing how long each game lasts requires a high level of professionalism.

A game, once again, cannot end in a tie. There has to be a victor. You must be pro at the game to understand these intervals. However, we have detailed the total time required for each game in this review.

Therefore, it is up to you to take a look and decide which one is worth your time if you want to watch.

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