How Long Does a Basketball Game Last? Guidelines

You are probably new to everything basketball and you have those tickets to go watch a game. Now, you probably want to know how long you will be there so that you can plan your day. After all, you do not want to spend your entire day at a game when you have other things to do.

The first thing you need to know is that there are different basketball games and the time they take varies. There are disparities in the period taken to play basketball games because there are different levels.

How Long Does a Basketball Game Last

For example, there is high school basketball, college, NCAA, NBA, and even professional basketball.Moreover, there is an overtime period for all basketball games regardless of which level in the event of a draw.

Simply Put…

The length of a game will vary depending on the competition and level. The real game takes much longer to play owing to the length of the halves or quarters as well as stoppages in the play.

A basketball will be is stopped for certain injuries, timeouts, fouls and breaks in-between play periods. A normal game will take about 2-3 hours to complete from the beginning to the end.

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That said; let us go through the different time durations taken at different basketball levels.

The Average Length of a College Basketball Game 

Basketball is a common game among higher learning institutions so if you are planning to go watch a basketball game, here is what you should know.

At this level, the basketball game takes two halves each going for twenty minutes. This is unlike the other typical matches that take four quarters.

The half-time period takes 15 minutes just like the National Basketball Association while the overtime period goes for five minutes.

Sometimes, college games are televised and in such instances, a game will go for about two hours and ten minutes.

Length of an NCAA Basketball Game 

College basketball has a body that runs it known as the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Most people will agree that this game lasts for too long.

This is because it has many timeouts that take almost half an hour of the game.

In the event that the ball hits one of the basket rims or alters the team in control of the ball, shot clocks come in, and the ball must be shot. This time differs as well.

According to the NCAA, shot clock takes 30 or 35 seconds for women and men respectively.

NBA basketball Game Length 

An NBA game lasts 48 minutes.

It is normally separated into four quarters with each lasting 12 minutes. In the event of a tie amongst the teams playing, there will be some amount of time added and of course, the game will last longer.

If there is a tie in basketball, there has to be overtime where the game is repeateda few times until a winner emerges. Each overtime lasts for 5 minutes.

Furthermore, fouls, half time, ball out-of-bound, and timeouts result to many instructions making the game lasts longer than it should. Halftime consumes 15 minutes of the game.

There is five-minute overtime in case there is a tie otherwise; a normal NBA game will not take more than two and a half hours.

Shot clocks take 24 seconds.

High school Basketball Game Length 

High schools commonly play Basketball as well. High school basketball games last for 32 minutes.

Roughly, high school games take about an hour and a half. This aggregate time is inclusive of the breathers, fouls, and clock stoppages that may rise.

High schools, just like the NBA, consume four quarters but the only difference is that their quarters are shorter. Each high school quarter lasts for 8 minutes. Between the second and third quarters, there is a halftime that lasts ten minutes.

High school overtime period lasts four minutes in the event of a draw between the teams.

How long is a Basketball Quarter? 

Basketball is played in segments known as quarters. Contrary to popular belief, there are different times for the quarters depending on which level of the game is being played. In addition, different sports associations have in place different times for their games. As such, the time a game takes will depend on the competition level.

Nevertheless, according to NBA, the correct time for any quarter is 12 minutes. On the other hand, International Basketball Federation (FIBA) gives a 10-minute quarter for its games.

NCAA basketball games are separated into two halves each consuming 20 minutes. Furthermore, high school games take 8 minutes for each quarter.

Professional Basketball Game Duration

The time a professional basketball game takes relies on the association presiding over it. For instance, an NBA game lasts for 48 minutes while a FIBA games goes for 40 minutes.

The overall time taken to play for any dedicated game takes a little over 2 hours 15 minutes. The time is inclusive of time disruptions like breaks, timeouts, and fouls.

NBA games include a lot of timeouts unlike the Olympic and FIBA games. NBA games comprise four mandatory timeouts.

Besides, basketball finals last about three hours, which is longer than normal games.


Ultimately, you will find that each basketball game belongs to a different level with different timings. As such, it will take some level of commitment and willingness to find out how long each game lasts.

Moreover, you need to keep in mind that a tie can never be the result of a basketball game. There has to be a winner regardless. Therefore, if a game ends in a tie, an overtime period has to be assigned until there is a winner. You must be good in the game for you to learn these intervals.

Other factors that determine the length of a game include half-time and fouls.

Nonetheless, after reading the detailed information above about the total time required for each game, it is now upon you to decide which one is worth your time and if you can stay, put for time stated.

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