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College Hoops Home/Road Dichotomies
by Scott Spreitzer - 01/15/2005
Like a skilled surgeon, successful sports handicappers know how to carefully dissect statistics. Looking at a teamâ€™s overall figures is one thing, but itâ€™s important to use statistical information correctly. Thereâ€™s no better example of this than college basketball. Many teams play well in front of their home fans, yet look like a completely different team on the road or on a neutral court. There are a myriad reasons for this. One is age. College basketball features young student athletes whose confidence is not as developed as professional athletes. They can play relaxed and confident in front of the home fans, but can react very differently when 10,000 fans are suddenly cheering against them.
Other reasons are road travel, defensive effort, long road trips, and familiarity with their home/practice facility. The point is, itâ€™s one thing to examine a teamâ€™s overall numbers, but in college basketball, itâ€™s essential for a good handicapper to break down a teamâ€™s performance both home and away, especially with conference play fully underway. Hereâ€™s a peak at some teams to keep an eye on. Teamâ€™s that perform very well at home, but not so hot on the road.
UConn: Itâ€™s no secret that the defending champs are far younger and less experienced than their powerhouse team of a year ago. They are still learning and looking for go-to guys to step up, a concern with all young teams. Notice the Huskies started 8-1 at home, but 1-2 SU/ATS on the road. They recently were beaten 77-65 at Oklahoma, failing to cover. Jim Calhounâ€™s team could get better on the road, of course, but they also might be a year away, continuing to be a go-against play on the road.
Vanderbilt: I saw Vandy play in person when they played a tournament game in Las Vegas last month. I wasnâ€™t impressed with their lack of defensive intensity and ball handling skills. Vanderbilt has started out 10-1 SU, 8-1 ATS at home, but on the road theyâ€™re giving up 80 ppg and are 1-2 SU/ATS. They might be a classic team that plays tough at home, but wilts on the road.
Maryland: The Terrapins started 7-0 at home. On the road, however, theyâ€™ve been patsies, at 1-3 SU/ATS. They got plastered, giving up 81 points at Wake Forest and 109 at North Carolina!
Virginia: Another ACC team that loves the home nets (8-1 start), but is 1-2 SU, 0-2 ATS on the road.
Denver: I mention a small school like Denver because there can be plenty of winning opportunities against the spread with lesser-known schools on the schedule. Denver is unique because they play in the Sun Belt conference, taking on many teams from the deep south â€“ a long way from Colorado! Thus far, Denver is 4-1 SU/2-1 ATS at home where the defense gives up just 62 ppg. But on the road, the Pioneers allow 81 ppg and they are 2-5 SU, 3-4 ATS.
LSU: The Tigers show up at home (6-1 SU) with a winning spread mark, but began the season a perfect 0-4 SU/ATS on the road.
NC State: The Wolfpack won 8 of their first 9 home games, but havenâ€™t been as successful away from home at 2-3 SU/1-3 ATS.
Yes, some of these teams appear to be very different at home as opposed to on the road. Hereâ€™s a quick list of some teams that have outstanding road records, both straight up and against the number: Syracuse, BC, Nevada, Cincinnati and Louisville. My Big East Game of the Month was a play on Boston College when they went to Connecticut last week, and the Eagles won outright, 75-70 (3-0 SU/ATS on the road) as a +8 dog! Keep culling the stats and lines for winners, and good luck!