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elam ending explained

In a nutshell, the Elam Ending calls for the first part of a game to be played with a game clock, and the last part of the game to be played without a game clock. There are two key settings in the Elam Ending (when to shut off the game clock, and how to set the game’s target score), and the beauty is that these settings can be customized for a given league/event.

As an example, TBT: The Basketball Tournament uses a version of the Elam Ending where:

  • At the first dead ball at/under 4:00 remaining in the 4th quarter, the game clock is shut off for the rest of the game
  • The game’s target score is set equal to the leading team’s score + 8
  • The first team to reach (or exceed) the target score wins

To illustrate, suppose Team A leads Team B, 65-60, at the first stoppage at/under the 4:00 mark of the 4th quarter. The game clock is shut off for the rest of the game, and the first team to reach (or exceed) 73 is the winner. Team A can’t rely on stalling, passive play, and free trips to the foul line to win – they must continue to play assertively and earn their points. Team B must mount a comeback, and doing so will require legitimate defensive stops and solid offensive execution – not deliberate fouling and hopeless heaves. The most important stretch of the game features the highest intensity, athleticism, and suspense of the game – exactly as it should – all capped off by someone putting the ball through the net to win the game.

The Elam Ending has proven to meet each of its primary aims:

  •       Eliminate deliberate fouling
  •       Reduce stalling
  •       Eliminate rushed/sloppy possessions
  •       Provide greater hope for late comebacks
  •       Provide more memorable game-ending moments
  •       Eliminate late-game clock controversies and reviews

Recommended versions of the Elam Ending for other levels of play (generally, the rationale is based on the current timing of the last media timeout at that level, and the average scoring rate at that level):

  • NBA: shut off game clock at last stoppage at/under 3:00 of the 4th quarter; set target score equal to leading team’s score + 7
  • WNBA: shut off game clock at last stoppage at/under 3:00 of the 4th quarter; set target score equal to leading team’s score + 7
  • Men’s College Basketball: shut off game clock at last stoppage at/under 4:00 of the 2nd half; set target score equal to leading team’s score + 7
  • Women’s College Basketball: shut off game clock at last stoppage at/under 5:00 of the 4th quarter; set target score equal to leading team’s score + 9
  • Olympics: shut off game clock at last stoppage at/under 4:00 of the 4th quarter; set target score equal to leading team’s score + 8

On paper, the Elam Ending might seem like a gimmick at first. But then you see it in action, and you realize the Elam Ending is the ultimate anti-gimmick – fostering fundamental, crisp, and intense basketball when the game is on the line. You realize that the timed format was consistently giving us the gimmicky version of basketball all along, with a warped and inferior style of play with the game on the line – repeated fouling, stalling and passive play, and regularly determining the outcome of the game with the ugliest shot of the game.

Elam Ending Explained Cont'd...

As an example, TBT: The Basketball Tournament uses a version of the Elam Ending where:

  • At the first dead ball at/under 4:00 remaining in the 4th quarter, the game clock is shut off for the rest of the game
  • The game’s target score is set equal to the leading team’s score + 8
  • The first team to reach (or exceed) the target score wins

To illustrate, suppose Team A leads Team B, 65-60, at the first stoppage at/under the 4:00 mark of the 4th quarter. The game clock is shut off for the rest of the game, and the first team to reach (or exceed) 73 is the winner. Team A can’t rely on stalling, passive play, and free trips to the foul line to win – they must continue to play assertively and earn their points. Team B must mount a comeback, and doing so will require legitimate defensive stops and solid offensive execution – not deliberate fouling and hopeless heaves. The most important stretch of the game features the highest intensity, athleticism, and suspense of the game – exactly as it should – all capped off by someone putting the ball through the net to win the game.

The Elam Ending has proven to meet each of its primary aims:

  •       Eliminate deliberate fouling
  •       Reduce stalling
  •       Eliminate rushed/sloppy possessions
  •       Provide greater hope for late comebacks
  •       Provide more memorable game-ending moments
  •       Eliminate late-game clock controversies and reviews

Recommended versions of the Elam Ending for other levels of play (generally, the rationale is based on the current timing of the last media timeout at that level, and the average scoring rate at that level):

  • NBA: shut off game clock at last stoppage at/under 3:00 of the 4th quarter; set target score equal to leading team’s score + 7
  • WNBA: shut off game clock at last stoppage at/under 3:00 of the 4th quarter; set target score equal to leading team’s score + 7
  • Men’s College Basketball: shut off game clock at last stoppage at/under 4:00 of the 2nd half; set target score equal to leading team’s score + 7
  • Women’s College Basketball: shut off game clock at last stoppage at/under 5:00 of the 4th quarter; set target score equal to leading team’s score + 9
  • Olympics: shut off game clock at last stoppage at/under 4:00 of the 4th quarter; set target score equal to leading team’s score + 8

On paper, the Elam Ending might seem like a gimmick at first. But then you see it in action, and you realize the Elam Ending is the ultimate anti-gimmick – fostering fundamental, crisp, and intense basketball when the game is on the line. You realize that the timed format was consistently giving us the gimmicky version of basketball all along, with a warped and inferior style of play with the game on the line – repeated fouling, stalling and passive play, and regularly determining the outcome of the game with the ugliest shot of the game.

video highlights

Praise for elam ending

“The genesis of this latest (All-Star) tweak comes directly from Chris Paul, who called me last summer and said ‘I’m a big fan of The Basketball Tournament. Are you familiar with the Elam Ending?’ And I said I was. It’s fascinating to me.”

Adam Silver, NBA Commissioner

“I’ve watched a lot of The Basketball Tournament. No one knew what to expect (when implementing the Elam Ending at the NBA All-Star Game.) But throughout the whole 4th quarter and at the end of the game, everybody was like, ‘That was pretty damn fun.’”

LeBron James

“I love the Elam Ending because you can’t sit there and hold the ball. You gotta go out and get a bucket…That’s the beauty of it…(Every game ends on a game-winner) That’s the best part about it. You have to come out and impose your will – that’s what it’s about.”

Joe Johnson, 7x NBA All-Star

“I LOVE that they added the Elam Ending to the NBA All-Star Game.”

Kenia Cole

William & Mary Women’s Basketball Assistant Coach

Nick Wright, FS1 First Things First

“I would love to see the Elam Ending brought to the NBA regular season and postseason.”

Ron Morris, The Basketball Times

“Mark my words, 25 years from now Elam will…be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.”

Mike Golic Jr.

“The Elam Ending is perfection”

Sarah Spain, Around the Horn

“The Elam Ending is fantastic, I want to employ it in all games. It’s SO good.”

Tim Doyle, CBS Sports/NBA TV

“Elam Ending is the next step for basketball, at all levels. Creating that game-winning shot is why we play and love the game. I actually believe it is inevitable in the next 5 years.”

Seth Greenberg, ESPN College Basketball Analyst, 2x ACC Coach of the Year

“Elam Ending never disappoints…College basketball needs to adopt the Elam Ending!”

Carl Richburg, Marquette Univ Men's Basketball Director of Recruiting

“Elam Ending is the best”

Tom Haberstroh, ESPN

“Man, that was an amazing All-Star Weekend. Well done, NBA. Shouts to Nick Elam, Jon Mugar, TBT, Chris Paul, and the league office for executing that Elam Ending. That’s the future.”

JD Gravina, Western IL Univ Women's Basketball Head Coach

“I LOVE the Elam Ending. I’m 100% on board!”

Rany Jazayerli, The Ringer / The Athletic

“The Elam Ending in basketball – an idea that is breathtaking in its simplicity and at the same time its impact on gameplay.”

In the news

How the Elam Ending has pumped up the excitement in the fourth quarter

cleveland.com

For years, the NBA All-Star Game lacked some sizzle. That was until 2020 when the Elam Ending, made popular by The Basketball Tournament, was instituted for the All-Star Game.

The Elam Ending is back for the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, and its inventor wants more

cbssports.com

For years, the NBA All-Star Game lacked some sizzle. That was until 2020 when the Elam Ending, made popular by The Basketball Tournament, was instituted for the All-Star Game.

What is the Elam Ending’s future after the NBA All-Star Game?

yahoo.com

The Elam Ending was concocted by Nick Elam — a card-carrying Mensa member, professor and die-hard basketball fan — as a solution to the tyranny of clock management at the end of games.

The Elam Ending is the best thing to happen to basketball this century

thecomeback.com

The Elam Ending gets rid of much of the tedious end-of-game fouling and makes sure every game ends on a game-winning basket.

The NBA’s Best Players Love the All-Star Game’s “Elam Ending.” Could It Ever Stick?

insidehook.com

After debuting at least year’s All-Star Game, the untimed, possession-based format has won its share of admirers.

The Last Two All-Star Games Showed The Elam Ending’s Effectiveness In Very Different Finishes

uproxx.com

The Elam Ending was adopted by the NBA for the game, and it brought an element of suspense and intensity to the normally mellow All-Star Game.

interviews +
presentations

Podcast interview

Alway Better Than Yesterday with Ryan Hartley

Podcast interview

Dan Friel for TBT Podcast

Podcast interview

NPR’s “Only a Game” with Martin Kessler

live interview

ESPN Outside the Lines

live interview

MLB Network Hot Stove

Guest panelist

MLB Network MLB Now.

live interview

Inside Indiana Business

live interview

Jared Greenberg for NBATV GameTime Live

presentation

 2018 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

2022 NCAA TOURNAMENT

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SEEDING PROJECTIONS

March 13, 2022

FINAL
Nick Elam, Ph.D.
RANKED 4TH-BEST BRACKETOLOGIST OVERALL
2018 Bracket Matrix Co-Champion
2021 Bracket Matrix T-34th out of 203 entries
2022 Bracket Matrix T-21st out of 211 entries

ALL CAPS: CONFERENCE CHAMPION
*First Four Participant

1
GONZAGA (WEST COAST)
KANSAS (BIG 12)
ARIZONA (PAC-12)
Baylor

2
Auburn
Kentucky
VILLANOVA (BIG EAST)
TENNESSEE (SEC)

3
Duke
PURDUE (BIG TEN)
Texas Tech
Wisconsin

4
Illinois
Ucla
Providence
Arkansas

5
Iowa
Connecticut
HOUSTON (AMERICAN)
Saint Mary’s

6
Texas
Lsu
Alabama
Colorado State

7
Usc
BOISE STATE (MOUNTAIN WEST)
Michigan State
Ohio State

8
MURRAY STATE (OHIO VALLEY)
San Diego State
Seton Hall
Tcu

9
Creighton
North Carolina
Marquette
Memphis

10
Iowa State
LOYOLA-CHICAGO (MISSOURI VALLEY)
San Francisco
VIRGINIA TECH (ACC)

11
Davidson
Miami
Texas A&M
RICHMOND (ATLANTIC 10)

12
UAB
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE (SUMMIT)
Michigan*
Smu*
Wyoming*
Indiana*

13
AKRON (MAC)
VERMONT (AMERICA EAST)
CHATTANOOGA (SOUTHERN)
NEW MEXICO STATE (WAC)

14
MONTANA STATE (BIG SKY)
YALE (IVY)
LONGWOOD (BIG SOUTH)
COLGATE (PATRIOT)

15
SAINT PETER’S (METRO ATLANTIC)
DELAWARE (COLONIAL)
GEORGIA STATE (SUN BELT)
JACKSONVILLE STATE (ATLANTIC SUN)

16
CAL STATE FULLERTON (BIG WEST)
WRIGHT STATE (HORIZON)
BRYANT* (NORTHEAST)
NORFOLK STATE* (MID-EASTERN)
TEXAS SOUTHERN* (SWAC)
TEXAS A&M-CORPUS CHRISTI* (SOUTHLAND)

 

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