What if…NCAA rules had been different for Pete Maravich?

This is the fourth post in our ongoing series of the Top 10 What Ifs in college basketball history.

In order to get ready for March Madness, we are counting down the Top 10 What ifs in college basketball history. We’re now at #7, which takes a look at the career of “Pistol” Pete Maravich, one of the most legendary college basketball players of all-time.

But do you realize that he could be even more legendary had the rules of college basketball not worked so directly against him?

Imagining Pistol Pete playing in today’s college basketball is quite the compelling hypothetical.

What if…

NCAA rules had been different for Pete Maravich?


Pete Maravich at LSU (Photo source: Total Pro Sports)

The numbers are beyond staggering.

  • 3,667 career points – most ever.
  • 44.2 points per game – most ever.
  • 28 games with 50 points – most ever.
  • 56 games with 40 points – most ever.
  • 30 FTs in one game (off 31 attempts) – most ever.

For most players, those stats would tell the story, finish the story, and cement the legacy.

But with Pistol Pete, they are only scratching the surface.

Pete was a guy who legendarily laughed at his opponents after he broke them down off the dribble.  Magic Johnson admitted that he stole the phrase “Showtime” from Maravich.

The guy even inspired Bob Dylan songs!

And really, without a whole lot of imagination, those numbers could look like this:

  • 5,822 career points – BY FAR the most ever.
  • 57.2 points per game – RIDICULOUS.
  • Who knows what else?

We are only left to ponder, What if…?

What if the NCAA Tournament had been different when the Pistol played?

When Maravich was at LSU, the NCAA Tournament only featured from 22-25 teams.  Beyond that, only one team from each conference was allowed to go to the dance.

Sharing a league with Kentucky in the late sixties was not the best way to get to the tournament.

This rule didn’t affect just Pete Maravich.  There were several instances when many people thought that the two best teams in the nation were in one conference, but they couldn’t both go to the Dance.  However, just think about what might have been had Pete been able to play in the Tournament.

The NCAA Tournament, as we know, is so often decided by good guard play.  Would LSU have had a chance to be successful with Pistol Pete running the show?  Most definitely.

The other characteristic of the Tourney is that it so often rewards a team that gets hot at just the right time.  Is it at least plausible that Pete may have been able to lead his team to one or two Final Fours?  Of course it is.

Now, we can’t get carried away too much.  Pete happened to play during UCLA’s incredible run of dominance.  To insinuate that he might have been able to win a championship is probably a stretch. But wouldn’t his legend be that much greater if he had led LSU on a few tournament runs even if they ended with the Maravich Tigers being knocked out by UCLA a few times?  He could always say, “The greatest team of all time was the only thing standing between me and a championship,” rather than a poorly structured NCAA Tournament.

And boy…what if he had been able to knock off UCLA just once?  Wow.

With today’s rules, what could Pete’s records possibly look like?

One of the most remarkable things about Pete is that he was only allowed to play for three full seasons, yet he still holds the all-time record for scoring. And he probably always will.

If a player played 30 games a year for all four years, he would need to average 30.56 points per game for his entire career in order to break Pete’s scoring record.  Interestingly enough, nobody has even approached this average for a single season since 1991.

Add to that the fact that if a freshman did come in averaging 31 points a game, he would most assuredly leave college after only one or two seasons.

Let’s just agree that Pistol’s scoring record is safe.

But could it have been even more safe?

As you probably know, Pete played before the 3-point line had been invented.  In the 60s, long shots were “bad shots” even if you made them.  Why would anybody shoot from 25-feet when it counted the same as a layup?

Well, Pistol Pete helped to crush that “logic.”

For years, the legend of Pistol Pete just grew and grew.  Players, coaches, and old fans would laud his amazing shooting ability, even quipping that he might have averaged 60 points a game had there been a three-point line.

Finally, former LSU Coach Dale Brown wanted to put such talk to rest.

He watched every single game of Pistol Pete’s career, and charted every single shot he ever took.  What he found out will absolutely blow you away.

Brown discovered that with a three-point line of 19’9″ (the distance it was for over 20 years), Maravich would have averaged 13 three-pointers a game.

Let me quickly point out that the college record for three-pointers in one game is 15, held by a guy named Keith Veney in 1996.  The Pistol’s average would have only been two below the all-time record.

So by adding an additional 13 points per game to Pistol’s average, he’s now averaging over 50 points per game for his entire college career.

We hold Wilt Chamberlain’s NBA-record 50.4 points per game as an untouchable standard of scoring excellence.  Pete would have shattered that…in college games that were eight minutes shorter!

For anyone who has ever played basketball, it is easy to postulate that had there been a three-point line, than teams would have been forced to guard him more closely out there, and he would have been able to get around his opponents even more easily.


In a weird sort of way, you could also argue that the lack of a three-point line may actually have helped his scoring because of how he was defended. We will never know.

We can only wonder…

What if…?


Top 10 College Basketball What Ifs of All-Time Series (All)

10. What if Hank Gathers hadn’t died in the middle of a game?
9. What if Christian Laettner had been suspended for stomping on Aminu Timberlake?
8. What if Houston hadn’t been upset by NC State?
7. What if the NCAA rules had been different for Pete Maravich?
6. What if Chris Webber hadn’t called timeout?
5. What if Gordon Hayward’s shot hadn’t rimmed out?
4. What if Coach K had been fired from Duke after 3 seasons?
3. What if LeBron had gone to college and the one-and-done rule was never instituted?
2. What if Kentucky had beaten Texas Western?
1. What if there wasn’t a snow storm to keep John Wooden from going to Minnesota?

About Jon Washburn

Jon Washburn grew up in Indianapolis, IN and as such, is a diehard Pacers, Colts, and Cubs fans. When it comes to college, he cheers for Notre Dame football fan and Purdue basketball. Yes, this sounds shady, but since he grew up without cable, he learned to love Notre Dame - the only team on TV. Glenn "The Big Dog" Robinson was at Purdue when Jon was in his formative years, so he latched onto them as well. Did that make him a fair-weather fan at the time? Sure. Give him a break...he was 8...and he has stayed with those teams ever since. Currently, he lives in Charleston, SC with his wife who grew up in Cleveland. Although he is no longer physically in the Midwest, his heart will always be there. Jon goes by the name "Twitch" because he has Tourette's Syndrome. Hit him up on his twitter @jwtwitch.


  1. anthony81860 says:

    Every year, like clockwork, during March madness, I see at
    least a half dozen articles that proclaims and try to justify that Pete Maravich
    was a great basketball player. I feel like I am being proselytized about Maravich
    greatness, but I know the truth.  Lets
    get one thing straight. Pete was never a great basketball player; he was a good
    basketball player with great talent who refused to use those talents to make
    him and his team better. Great players do more than score, they are winners,
    they make teammates better, and they are leaders. Pete was never any of those.

    Whenever you read about Pete, his admirers parade out his
    stats like the cliché article above. They talk about his scoring, average, and
    what he could have average if they had a three-point line in his day.

    When looking at his stats, lets look at what Pete’s admirers
    never mentions. From the stats squad, we know that Pete averaged 44 points a
    game at LSU, but they never discuss his 44% shooting percentage which is
    horrible if you average 44 points a game. 
    Lets put his shooting in real numbers. In Pete’s career at LSU, he
    averaged making 17 out of 38 field goals attempts per game. That means he
    averaged missing 21 shots a game.  Does
    missing 21 shots a game sounds like greatness? Can you imagine any coach today
    letting a player shoot the ball 38 times, and allowing him to miss 21 shots per
    game and perennially losing too. The coach today would have a mutiny on his
    hand with the other players. Pete had the talents to be great, but not the
    mental make up, thus greatness eluded this talented player. 

    • Wow.  I guess there are two sides to every story.
      One could also say that LSU was better than .500 in exactly ONE of the previous 13 seasons before Pete Maravich arrived.  Achieving a 22-10 mark with a trip to the NIT Final Four as a senior is a pretty impressive feat all things considered.
      As for your idea that one player can singlehandedly win a championship, please show me one championship team in NBA History that had only one great player.  
      I will be waiting…

    • “Pete was never a great basketball player; he was a goodbasketball player with great talent who refused to use those talents to makehim and his team better.” Really? He didn’t work to make himself better? Do you know what his work ethic was like in college? It was unmatched. As for the team, they were 3-20 the year before he arrived. Pretty good assist stats, too.

  2. The speed, strength and depth of modern teams, coupled with officiating that allows heavy hand checking and reaching in puts slender players like Maravich at an insurmountable disadvantage. The modern game is low scoring and possession oriented, so no one will ever touch Pistol Pete’s numbers.

  3. What if they hadn’t outlawed the dunk during Alcinder’s years at UCLA. He may have set records beyound anyones imagination for points scored, attempted etc, etc. Maravich was good, but I think Jabbar(Lou Alcinder) was better.

  4. The Pistol was an offensive machine. Also remember the SEC did not have black ball players in the league during his time. The introduction of the black athlete into the SEC changed a lot of things. The league became more athletic.

  5. obviously anthony81860 knows little about roundball (“Pete Maravich was never a great basketball player”)….but then the nowaday generation, especially bloggers like this…..enjoy to comment, and make references that they know very little about……..and to bring race into this issue, he is probably black, and idolizes Lebron……there was not only NOT the 3 point line back then, nor there was the shot clock…….so the game was different,….and Pete faced zone denfenses left and right…..and with ‘his’ talent was able to penetrate those defenses …..if he was not being dogged by a ‘diamond-and-one’ (box-and-one) where two and in some cases….3 players were on/ near him…..

  6. Hello! I just would like to give a huge thumbs up for the great info you have here on this post. I will be coming back to your blog for more soon.

  7. Wow, wonderful blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is great, let alone the content!

  8. Hello Web Admin, I noticed that your On-Page SEO is is missing a few factors, for one you do not use all three H tags in your post, also I notice that you are not using bold or italics properly in your SEO optimization. On-Page SEO means more now than ever since the new Google update: Panda. No longer are backlinks and simply pinging or sending out a RSS feed the key to getting Google PageRank or Alexa Rankings, You now NEED On-Page SEO. So what is good On-Page SEO?First your keyword must appear in the title.Then it must appear in the URL.You have to optimize your keyword and make sure that it has a nice keyword density of 3-5% in your article with relevant LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing). Then you should spread all H1,H2,H3 tags in your article.Your Keyword should appear in your first paragraph and in the last sentence of the page. You should have relevant usage of Bold and italics of your keyword.There should be one internal link to a page on your blog and you should have one image with an alt tag that has your keyword….wait there’s even more Now what if i told you there was a simple WordPress plugin that does all the On-Page SEO, and automatically for you? That’s right AUTOMATICALLY, just watch this 4minute video for more information at. Seo Plugin

  9. tyvm!

  10. Hi, I do believe this is an excellent web site. I stumbledupon it ;)
    I am going to revisit yet again since i have book-marked it.
    Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide other people.

  11. My programmer is trying to persuade me to move to
    .net from PHP. I have always disliked the idea because of
    the costs. But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using WordPress on numerous websites for about a year and am anxious about switching to another platform.
    I have heard great things about blogengine.net.

    Is there a way I can transfer all my wordpress posts into it?
    Any help would be really appreciated!

  12. It’s awesome to pay a quick visit this web page and reading the views of all friends concerning this paragraph, while I am also eager of getting knowledge.

  13. Thanks for a marvelous posting! I actually enjoyed reading it, you
    might be a great author. I will be sure to bookmark your blog and
    may come back someday. I want to encourage you to ultimately continue your great job, have a nice holiday weekend!

  14. Hello! I’ve been reading your website for a long time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Atascocita Texas! Just wanted to tell you keep up the excellent job!

  15. I was able to find good info from your blog articles.

  16. LIke your site. Do you want to trade links.

  17. excellent points altogether, you just gained a brand new reader. What might you suggest in regards to your post that you made a few days in the past? Any sure?

  18. “This website truly has all of the information and facts I needed concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.”

  19. Attractive section of content. I simply stumbled upon your blog and in accession capital
    to claim that I acquire in fact enjoyed account your blog posts.

    Anyway I’ll be subscribing on your feeds and even I
    success you get entry to constantly rapidly.

  20. Ahaa, its fastidious discussion about this paragraph here at this web site,
    I have read all that, so now me also commenting at this place.

  21. Keep on working, great job!

  22. Hey there just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the pictures aren’t loading properly.
    I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue.
    I’ve tried it in two different web browsers and both show the same results.

  23. We are a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community.
    Your website offered us with valuable information to work on.
    You’ve done an impressive job and our entire community will be thankful to you.

  24. Looking forward to reading more. Great blog post.Thanks Again. Great.

  25. Greetings from Ohio! I’m bored to tears at work so I decided to browse your site on my iphone during lunch break. I love the information you present here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home. I’m amazed at how fast your blog loaded on my mobile .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, superb blog!

  26. 2. Hope to see more of your work soon.

  27. Contamos con diferentes unidades móviles capacitada con todo lo necesario para la reparación, desde repuestos hasta la ultima herramienta necesaria para la reparación de su electrodoméstico Siemens por eso garantizamos el servicio técnico siemens en toda la Isla de Gran Canarias con una reparación a domicilio rápida y eficaz. Nuestros clientes obtienen una gran cantidad de beneficios en el momento en el que confian la gestión y reparación de sus electrodomésticos Siemens en nuestras manos,como. DESPLAZAMIENTO GRATIS si se realiza la reparación de su electrodoméstico Siemens.

  28. I’m not sure exactly why but this site is loading very slow for me. Is anyone else having this issue or is it a problem on my end? I’ll check back later and see if the problem still exists.

  29. 220931 221245Whoah this blog is magnificent i truly like reading your articles. Keep up the great paintings! You realize, lots of persons are searching round for this info, you could aid them greatly. 575063

  30. Este periodo comenzará a contar desde la fecha de entrega del equipo al cliente y tendrá validez únicamente sobre la parte reparada y siempre y cuando no haya sido manipulado por terceros. Claro nos duele cuando uno va a una acción militar y uno sabe que el que esta allá también es hermano de uno, también es un soldado que tiene sus necesidades y que también es gente del pueblo, pero durante más de cuarenta años hemos tratado de buscar la manera de que esas contradicciones no las resolvamos en el campo de batalla, porque es lo más doloroso.

  31. I simply want to tell you that I’m newbie to blogging and seriously savored this web site. Almost certainly I’m want to bookmark your blog . You certainly have good well written articles. Bless you for revealing your web page.

  32. Very neat blog post.Really thank you! Cool.

  33. hey there and thank you for your information – I’ve definitely picked up anything new from right here. I did however expertise several technical points using this site, since I experienced to reload the site many times previous to I could get it to load correctly. I had been wondering if your hosting is OK? Not that I am complaining, but slow loading instances times will sometimes affect your placement in google and can damage your quality score if advertising and marketing with Adwords. Well I am adding this RSS to my e-mail and can look out for much more of your respective exciting content. Make sure you update this again soon..

  34. Great – I should certainly pronounce, impressed with your website. I had no trouble navigating through all tabs and related information ended up being truly easy to do to access. I recently found what I hoped for before you know it in the least. Reasonably unusual. Is likely to appreciate it for those who add forums or anything, website theme . a tones way for your customer to communicate. Excellent task..

  35. 512290 597212I liked than you may be right now. 656372

  36. There are some attention-grabbing deadlines in this article however I don’t know if I see all of them heart to heart. There may be some validity however I will take hold opinion till I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we would like extra! Added to FeedBurner as properly

  37. 156007 670714I like this web site very much, Its a really nice billet to read and obtain info . 175512

  38. 153943 481751tiitaBoo 576331

  39. This web internet site is definitely a walk-through for all of the info you wanted about this and didn’t know who to ask. Glimpse here, and you will certainly discover it.

  40. 876592 200715There exist a couple of numerous different distinct levels among the California Weight loss program and each and every a person is pretty essential. Youre procedure stands out as the the actual giving up with all the power. weight loss 194828

  41. Rattling informative and fantastic structure of articles, now that’s user friendly (:.

  42. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you create this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz answer back as I’m looking to construct my own blog and would like to know where u got this from. many thanks

  43. 658494 950960Oh my goodness! a great post dude. Numerous thanks Nevertheless We are experiencing issue with ur rss . Dont know why Can not sign up to it. Could there be anybody discovering identical rss difficulty? Anyone who knows kindly respond. Thnkx 427698

  44. 959174 86070I was wondering if you ever considered changing the layout of your blog? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or two images. Maybe you could space it out better? 321076

  45. When is it time to buy a new pc?.. Some people I possess talked to told me its good to buy a new computer every two years however that could be expensive for many people. I always believed every 4-5 years… What is your opinion on this?.. The computer I own is usually 11 weeks old?.

  46. 609002 201829you are in point of fact a very good webmaster. The internet site loading velocity is remarkable. It seems that you are performing any distinctive trick. In addition, The contents are masterpiece. youve done a terrific activity on this topic! 812840

  47. 556373 856687Can I just now say that of a relief to locate somebody who truly knows what theyre speaking about online. You actually know how to bring a difficulty to light and work out it crucial. The diet need to see this and appreciate this side on the story. I cant believe youre no more popular since you definitely possess the gift. 713735

  48. Una presión que tiende a expulsar el agua que ha quedado en el interior del circuito, actuando, al mismo tiempo, como efecto limpiador y de precalentamiento. Hola, Ferran, agradecemos tu paciencia y lamentamos tener que indicarte que deberás llevar tu cafetera a nuestro Servicio Técnico Oficial porque podría tener un problema en el termostato. Hola de nuevo y gracias por la rapidez en el envío del manual solicitado para mi cafetera M590 captain express. Me podrías decir el motivo el porqué no hay venta de recambios y accesorios en la web oficial de las cafeteras.

  49. I am genuinely pleased to read this website posts which
    contains tons of valuable data, thanks for providing these kinds of information. Gamefly
    3 month free trial

  50. Why do copyright laws holders desire to restrict distribution of their particular content to a specific country?

  51. Awesome article post.Really thank you! Much obliged.

  52. Admiring the dedication you put into your blog and in depth information you present.
    It’s nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same old rehashed information. Great read!
    I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  53. A round of applause for your article.Thanks Again. Really Cool.

  54. what may be the best free website to begin a successful blogg?

  55. “I carry on listening to the news bulletin speak about receiving boundless online grant applications so I have been looking around for the best site to get one. Could you tell me please, where could i get some?”

  56. Absolutely absorbing knowledge that you have remarked, thanks for adding.

  57. It is right day to have some preparations for the forthcoming future. I’ve browsed this blog posting and if I could, I wish to encourage you handful of significant proposal.

  58. i buy a domain name and host and as subdomain i have a choice to creat a blog page. i love to do it but i actually completely dazed!!! can anyone assist to make this right?. I actually buy a domain and host and as subdomain excellent choice to creat a blog. i love to do it yet i completely dazed!!! is there any others who could help me to generate it right?. my problem IS that i how to start what to do!. i personally use plesk, and there ( in my httpdocs ) i have a folder called BLOG, inside i have my first web page! its firs page ( my blog page page) informed me that place your theme here, my problem is… what theme? this support php too. the problem is might that’s compeletly complex!.

  59. Is there a degree that exists for use of music AND creative writing two fields? When there is, do you know the name of it?.. I wish to combine these two of my interests (loves) but We don’t know what kind of level offers the use of both… Please help? Getting close to college?.

  60. This is right occasion to get some schemes for the possible future. I have read through this document and if I would, I want to recommend you couple entertaining recommendations.

  61. With no asking these to delete this, is there a way i can delete my own blog comments on someone else’s blog? Please help(:.

  62. I’m more than happy to uncover this website. I wanted to thank you for your time due to this fantastic read!! I definitely savored every little bit of it and i also have you book marked to see new information in your blog.

  63. Hullo here, just became aware about your article through yahoo, and have found that it is really informational. I will value if you continue on such.

  64. It is perfect time to prepare some intentions for the upcoming. I have read through this blog post and if I may, I desire to propose you very few significant pointers.

  65. Good morning here, just got alert to your blog site through yahoo, and discovered that it is quite informational. I will take pleasure in should you carry on this.

  66. when there are fund raising events in our community, i always see to it that i participate in it”

  67. Hello Nice Day , I just inspecting the blog for geting an inspiration or an remarkable information. Interesting topic, express gratitude for distribution. Eddith

  68. Gday there, just turned out to be aware of your blog through yahoo, and realized that it’s very helpful. I’ll be grateful if you decide to persist this informative article.

  69. I was very pleased to uncover this site. I wanted to thank you for ones time just for this fantastic read!! I definitely liked every part of it and i also have you book marked to see new stuff in your web site.

  70. Very compelling resources you have stated, thanks for publishing.

  71. How to transfer firefox bookmarks from one notebook to another laptop?

  72. This is very interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger.
    I’ve joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of
    your great post. Also, I have shared your web site in my social networks!

  73. Thanks for the article post. Want more.

  74. This is the right opportunity to have some goals for the long-term. I’ve read this post and if I can possibly, I wish to encourage you handful enlightening ideas.

  75. alright so i downloaded firefox. trying to find using chrome for a while, and all a sudden after i x’ed out my opera and opened up it once again it wont go to websites, this wont also say page not shown. it will you need to be blank. and so i unstalled it and re stalled this and it worked when it was launched in the reinstal but when i x’ed it out again and opened it it showed blank. will anyone know how i can fix this????.

  76. I’m very pleased to uncover this page. I wanted to thank you for ones time for this fantastic read!! I definitely loved every bit of it and I have you book-marked to look at new stuff in your web site.

  77. I like the valuable information you provide in your articles. I will bookmark your weblog and check again here frequently. I’m quite sure I’ll learn lots of new stuff right here! Good luck for the next!

  78. Unbelievably absorbing elements you’ll have mentioned, thank you so much for posting.

  79. I’m very happy to find this web site. I need to to thank you for ones time for this wonderful read!! I definitely appreciated every part of it and I have you saved to fav to look at new things on your web site.

  80. I’m pretty pleased to uncover this page. I need to to thank you for your time for this fantastic read!! I definitely liked every part of it and I have you book marked to see new information in your web site.

  81. Good day here, just turned out to be alert to your blog site through Google, and discovered that it’s genuinely good. I will appreciate in the event you maintain such.

  82. Highly intriguing highlights you have said, thanks for submitting.

Speak Your Mind