Lack of Home-Court Advantage in College Basketball

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This college basketball season has been an interesting one, to say the least. While there has been a revolving door of number one teams, possibly the strangest results have been the lack of home-court advantage, especially in conference play.

What Home-Court Advantage?

Entering 1/19, home teams have won just 59.6 percent in conference play. This would be the third-lowest value of all-time, according to KenPom. Typically, home teams are thought to have a significant advantage, but that is far from the case this season.

In just the first month of the season, Duke and Kentucky lost on their home floor to nonconference foes, Stephen F Austin and Evansville, respectively. Duke added another loss at home to Louisville.

Additionally, Kansas lost at home to Baylor who had never won at Phog Allen Fieldhouse, before this season.

When discussing home courts in college basketball, the first three names mentioned are always Phog Allen, Rupp Arena, and Cameron Indoor, so for these three teams to already have somewhat strange losses at home says a lot.

Entering this season, 14 teams had home court win streaks of at least ten games. Of those 14 teams, only two remain. Gonzaga opened the season with a home win streak of 22 and have grown that to 34. Also, Villanova started with a home win streak of 11 and grew it to 21.

Big Ten Anomaly

While the rest of the country is seemingly unable to sustain any sort of home-court advantage, the Big Ten has done the exact opposite. Entering 1/19, home teams have won 86 percent of their games. Essentially, Big Ten opponents just chalk up a loss as soon as they hop on a plane to play elsewhere.

According to KenPom, no conference has achieved a 70 percent home win rate in the last three seasons, so 86 percent is a staggering number with about five conference games played.

The home teams are winning because there are no great teams in the league, but at least ten good teams. It is undoubtedly the deepest conference in the country this season.

Additionally, the home crowds in the Big Ten are some of the best in the country. Annually, Maryland, Purdue, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Indiana are discussed as the best home courts in the nation.

This combination of decent overall talent and historic basketball venues allows the Big Ten to have a supreme home-court advantage to start this season.

Will the Lack of Home-Court Advantage Continue?

It seems as though home-court will offer little advantage throughout the season. With no truly dominant teams and an extremely widespread talent pool, these numbers do make sense. When comparing rosters across the country, there may be only a handful of players that have that game-breaker attribute.

As for the Big Ten, there is no way that the hot stretch of home teams continues. At some point, road teams will start to win. However, that 70 percent mark does seem attainable. Expect a cluster of teams in the Big Ten and a shared regular-season conference crown.

Conference games will be increasing across the country so that all teams can play a full round-robin schedule. It seems likely that the lack of home-court advantage continues into the next decade. With an increasing number of games against an opponent, teams will understand each other better and the older players will continue to adjust to the opponent’s home venues.

 

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