Home Sweet Home: A Look Back At Home Court Advantage in the SEC

Posted by Brian Joyce on May 23rd, 2012

John Calipari and his Kentucky Wildcats ended its traditional rivalry with Indiana this offseason because of squabbles over where the game would be played in future years. But as a whole, the SEC should strive to play at home if it is seeking victories. That is the goal, after all? While Kentucky’s stated goal is to prepare itself for the NCAA Tournament while playing in large neutral site arenas to simulate the experience of the Big Dance, the Wildcats and the rest of the SEC did very well in the comforts of home during the 2011-12 season. The NCAA released 2011-12 men’s basketball attendance numbers a couple of weeks ago, and the SEC was amongst the leaders. All twelve SEC teams finished in the  top 100 of men’s Division I attendance. Below is how each SEC team ranked in terms of overall attendance:

NCAA 2011-12 Rank

School

Venue

1

Kentucky

Rupp Arena

7

Tennessee

Thompson Boling Arena

18

Vanderbilt

Memorial Gymnasium

23

Arkansas

Bud Walton Arena

27

Alabama

Coleman Coliseum

37

Florida

Stephen C. O’Connell Center

45

South Carolina

Colonial Life Arena

50

Louisiana State

Pete Maravich Assembly Center

60

Mississippi State

Humphrey Coliseum

74

Georgia

Stegeman Coliseum

81

Auburn

Auburn Arena

91

Ole Miss

Tad Smith Coliseum

But as we all know, size matters, and some venues are larger than others. I broke each attendance figure down into the percentage of capacity filled over the course of the season:

School

2011-12 attendance

Venue capacity

Percentage

Kentucky

23,721

23,500

100.94%

Tennessee

16,543

21,678

76%

Vanderbilt

13,698

14,316

95%

Arkansas

13,096

19,368

67%

Alabama

12,484

15,383

81%

Florida

10,434

11,548

90%

South Carolina

8,868

18,000

49%

Louisiana State

8,661

13,215

65%

Mississippi State

8,019

10,575

75%

Georgia

7,079

10,523

67%

Auburn

6,502

9,121

71%

Ole Miss

5,770

9,061

63%

Some notes thus far:

  • Tennessee did surprisingly well considering this was a year of transition for the Vols. Fans still showed up to support.
  • South Carolina has the most room to grow, and with its recent hire of Frank Martin it will be interesting to see if there is a significant jump in attendance for the Gamecocks.
  • Mississippi State had the second largest increase in attendance from 2010-11 to 2011-12 with a 2,309 person jump per game. The Bulldogs were only behind Creighton in terms of the largest jumps nationally.
  • In fact, three SEC schools were in the top 10 in overall increase. LSU and Alabama joined the Dogs with an average addition of over 1,500 fans per game.

But it wasn’t just that fans filled the stands this season in the SEC, teams overwhelmingly played well at home. SEC teams protected their home court not only in conference, but overall as well.

School

Overall home court record

Conference home record

Kentucky

18-0

8-0

Tennessee

15-4

7-1

Vanderbilt

13-5

6-2

Arkansas

17-3

5-3

Alabama

12-3

6-2

Florida

14-2

6-2

South Carolina

9-9

2-6

Louisiana State

11-4

6-2

Mississippi State

15-4

6-2

Georgia

11-6

4-4

Auburn

14-3

5-3

Ole Miss

12-3

6-2

A few more notes:

  • Only one SEC team finished below .500 at home during conference play (South Carolina).
  • And South Carolina had the worst overall home record of all SEC teams at .500.
  • Other than that, most SEC teams won consistently at home, losing to Kentucky and maybe one or two other teams.
  • Tennessee ONLY lost to Kentucky in Knoxville during SEC play, helping the Vols secure a tie for second in the conference overall.

While it is not uncommon to win more often at home, the SEC did abnormally well in comparison to its overall win percentage. SEC teams won 61 percent of its overall games this year. Yet at home, those same teams won over 80 percent. In comparison to other power conferences, the SEC topped the list.

Conference

Overall home court record

Home winning percentage

SEC

188-46

80%

Big 12

128-37

78%

Big Ten

165-49

77%

Big East

211-68

76%

ACC

144-59

71%

PAC 12

150-61

71%

Why is this such a big deal? It wasn’t like the SEC was abysmal this year, but the conference also wasn’t at the top of its game. While the SEC teams won at home, it didn’t always win elsewhere. The SEC was fourth out of the six power conferences in overall non-conference winning percentage.

Conference

Non-conference record

Non-conference win %

Big Ten

152-49

76%

Big 12

119-41

74%

Big East

190-73

72%

SEC

150-64

70%

ACC

136-70

66%

PAC 12

118-77

61%

In 2011-12, the SEC fared well in attendance, and that translated to winning at home. A home court advantage may not help teams much come March, but in the SEC it sure helped teams find success in the weeks and months building up to the Big Dance. One thing is clear, going on the road in the SEC is no easy task no matter what month it is. And the 2012-13 conference participants will have to find a way to win at a few more difficult venues (here and here) on the road to a conference championship.

Brian Joyce (284 Posts)

Brian Joyce is an advanced metrics enthusiast, college hoops junkie, and writer for the SEC basketball microsite for Rush the Court.


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2 Responses to “Home Sweet Home: A Look Back At Home Court Advantage in the SEC”

  1. Shawn says:

    I know Mizzou’s entrance into the SEC isn’t official quite yet, but can you list where Mizzou and possibly Texas A&M fit into these rankings as well? Thanks.

  2. bjoyce says:

    I thought about including both, but decided at the end not to put them in. Missouri had an attendance of 11,830. Mizzou Arena seats 15,061, which puts them at 78% capacity. The Tigers attendance puts them at 32nd nationally, and that is good enough for 6th in the SEC. A&M would be 11th out of 14 SEC schools (71st nationally) with 7,383 fans per game. Reed Arena seats 12,989 which gives them 57% capacity.

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