In the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the statistic for total games played in Division I men's basketball helps opposing coaches to monitor the extent that a particular player is used on a team. By definition, a player has "played in a game" when he enters the contest via substitution or by starting the contest. All that is required is that he is one of the five players for a team on the court for a minimal time of one second according to the game clock.
In sports, it is typically the team's better players who get playing time in the most total games. To achieve this feat, generally several factors must all come together for it to even be possible:
The player must be very talented. Otherwise, it is unlikely he will have entered so many games throughout his career.
The team must be successful. To enter 145 or more games in a four-year period (with regular season and conference tournament games averaging about 30–32 games per season, leaving the need for an additional four to five games per season), the team must be good enough to qualify for a postseason tournament each of the player's four seasons at the school.
The team must advance through several rounds, at minimum, in each of the postseason tournaments for all four years. For example, a team making it to the NCAA Tournament's Final Four will have played in four or five additional games in order to reach that point, and will be guaranteed at least one more game in the Final Four itself.
Through the 2013–14 season, 38 players have played at least 145 career games; eight of these reached the mark in the 2013–14 season. David Lighty of Ohio State holds the record for the most all-time appearances with 157. His lead over the next highest player is partly due to a medical redshirt season in which he played 7 games. The player in second place, Jakob Gollon of Mercer, effectively had two medical redshirt seasons. Gollon suffered season-ending injuries in both his freshman season of 2008–09 and his redshirt freshman season of 2009–10, respectively playing two and nine games in those seasons. He was granted a rare sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA in 2013–14.