Life on the Road in the ACC: Still Predictably Difficult

Posted by Jimmy Kelley on January 23rd, 2013

N.C. State is 15-4 overall and 4-2 in the ACC and has as much potential of any team in the conference this season. Led by powerful big men and electric wing players, the Wolfpack got their signature win when they knocked off Duke in the RBC Center a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, Mark Gottfried‘s crew has also picked up two very telling losses that speak to the existence of home court advantage in the ACC more than the Wolfpack’s inconsistent play.

Wake Forest Fans

Wake Forest fans at the Joel celebrate during their upset win over N.C. State on Tuesday. (AP Photo)

NC State currently has a 1-3 record on the road with two of those losses coming in their last three games. Losses at Maryland and Wake Forest look bad by themselves but when looking at them next to their lone road win — a five-point win at Boston College — the trend becomes upsetting. By this time of the season they have shed the “young team” moniker and their big-minute freshmen have actually been the bright spots for this team away from home. In their three ACC away games, the Wolfpack are shooting 43 percent from the field, down from their outstanding 51 percent total for the season. This is where the issue has been as Gottfried’s team is holding opponents relatively in check on defense with a negligible difference between home and away (41 percent on the road, 40 percent overall). Typically, teams that rely on their defense and scoring inside do well on the road (see Florida State last year), while teams that rely on shooting the ball well from the perimeter inevitably falter in hostile situations.

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Behind the Numbers: On the Issue of Home Cooking…

Posted by KCarpenter on January 12th, 2011

Conference play has started and it is a glorious thing. While non-conference play has its charms (who doesn’t love to see heavyweights go at it?), conference play has a special allure. Games are exciting when there is history, and that’s what conferences offer: a history of rivalries and past meetings that add a little bit of spice to each new meeting. And while old wounds may ache, it’s the new ones that sting: The best part of conference play is the home-and-away series; to better understand  the meaning of Duke and Ohio State’s close scrapes this past week, we need to understand home cooking.

Home Cooking, the Way Mom Used To Do...

“Home cooking.” When we talk basketball, we understand that this phrase is a euphemism for home-court advantage, a catch-all for the widely-discussed yet still mysterious phenomenon. Teams win more when they play on their home court. This is a fact. It’s the “why” that’s much more complicated, and there are many explanations. The “home cooking” euphemism itself is a partial explanation, metonymy for all the comforts of home: sleeping better in your own bed, being able to stick to your own routine, and, of course, literally getting to eat a home-cooked meal. Taken altogether, the psychological benefits of these things (coupled with the converse disadvantage of opponents lacking these things) is supposed to account for the edge that comes with playing at home. Of course, savvier or maybe just more cynical people hear “home cooking” and their minds turn to matters more sinister than mom’s meatloaf. “Home cooking” to these folks means referee bias in favor of the home team. The innocent and idealistic amongst us shudder at the thought, but the harsh reality is that referee bias is real.

Kyle Anderson and David Pierce in a 2009 article published in The Journal of Sports Sciences outline a series of systematic referee biases in men’s college basketball. In addition to being more likely to call fouls on the team with the lead and on the team with the fewest fouls, referees really do call more fouls on the visiting team. Also, oddly enough, these effects are more pronounced when the game is on national television. But, of course, home court advantage is bigger than just getting a few fouls going in favor of the home team, isn’t it?

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Does Home Court at the Final Four Help?

Posted by rtmsf on March 30th, 2010

With Butler’s magical run through the West Region to make its first-ever Final Four in its home city of Indianapolis, it got us thinking about whether having home court advantage this deep in the Tournament actually means anything.  It’s great to have the fan support on your side, but when you get this far into the season, all of the teams remaining have won games in hostile environments and are still standing for a more compelling reason (they’re really good!).


We decided to take a historical look at some situations in the last fifty years of the Final Four where we feel that there could have been a home court advantage of some kind for the Final Four and Championship Games.  We tried to limit our choices to a three-hour driving radius from the host venue, but we recognize that some fanbases will travel to the moon to see their team while others can’t be trifled with moving off the couch.  So bear with us.

A brief review found seventeen such instances in the last half-century (Butler @ Indy is #18).  Of special note is that there were only seven situations where a team got to play in its home state (including last year’s Michigan State @ Detroit situation) and only twice where a Final Four school played its games in its home city as Butler will do this coming weekend (UCLA both times).  Here’s the list of what you really want to know, and we’ll break down each instance below that to determine if we think HCA had an impact. 

Final Fours Involving Home Teams

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