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NCAA Home Court Advantage

   by Matt Fargo - 11/18/2006

Cameron Indoor Stadium, Dean Smith Center, Allen Fieldhouse, Pauley Pavilion, Rupp Arena

These are all college basketball arenas that even the less knowledgeable hoops fans have heard of. They are some of the toughest and most intimidating venues that road teams visit. Home advantage is important in all sports but none more so than in college basketball where even very average teams can have a huge edge over their road opponents. Ever heard of Dahlberg Arena, Trask Coliseum, Clune Arena, Hanner Fieldhouse or Diddle Arena? Don’t worry, not many people have.

Eight teams went undefeated on their home floor last season with all of those carrying at least 17-game home winning streaks through November 17th of this season.

George Washington Colonials

Iowa Hawkeyes

Connecticut Huskies

Akron Zips

Air Force Falcons

Gonzaga Bulldogs

With the exception of Akron, the list isn’t filled with teams under anyone’s radar and you aren’t going to make money betting these teams at home very often. The Zips are the only team on that list that failed to make the NCAA tournament last season. These winning streaks go back further as well. Of all lined teams, there are currently 14 that own home winning streaks of at least 10 games led by Gonzaga’s 41-game run at The Kennel. Here is a list of the 14 teams and their current streaks:

41 Gonzaga

20 Connecticut

18 Akron

18 Air Force

18 Iowa

17 George Washington

14 Brigham Young

14 Memphis

13 UAB

12 George Mason

12 Murray St.

13 Texas

10 Butler

10 Western Kentucky

Getting that home edge in college basketball is big for any bettor and a lot of times, there is value for teams that are not considered high profile teams. The smaller arenas can sometimes give the home team a greater edge since it’s more compact with the fans almost right on the court. Here is a look at some smaller teams that often have a big home floor edge that you might not know about and you might want to keep an eye on.

Montana Grizzlies

Montana went 13-1 at home last season and the Grizzlies have gone 25-3 at Dahlberg Arena over the last two seasons. The outlook is good for Montana in the Big Sky Conference this season as it should contend for the conference title after finishing second last season. The cozy arena averaged fewer than 5,000 fans last season and hasn’t averaged more than that since 1995. It might not sound like a big home floor edge but sometimes less is good.

UNC-Wilmington Seahawks

Trask Coliseum has been good to the Seahawks as they went 12-1 there last year and have lost only six games over the last three seasons while putting up 32 victories over that span. UNC-Wilmington is coming off its best season in school history and it has averaged 21.2 wins over the last five seasons. The Seahawks likely won’t be as successful this year but should still be near the top of the CAA once again making the 6,100-seat Trask a nuisance for visitors.

Georgia Southern Eagles

This could be one of the lesser known home edges in the nation. The Eagles went 12-1 at home last year and have gone 35-4 at Hanner Fieldhouse since the start of the 2003 season. The facility holds only 4,358 fans giving them great access to the action. Georgia Southern uses an up tempo offense and there is nothing better than that to electrify a crowd. The Eagles are ready to continue that success again this season in hopes to repeat their SoCon regular season title.

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

The Hilltoppers have already shown what kind of team they plan on being this year as they went into Georgia and defeated the Bulldogs. This team is even better at home however, currently carrying a 10-game winning streak at Diddle Arena. Western Kentucky went 13-2 at home last season and has logged 28 wins compared to just three losses over the last two years. The arena was reduced from 13,500 seats to 7,500 in 2004 and it has certainly worked out for the home team.

In terms of a betting perspective, looking at these teams and other successful home squads should be one of the first things you investigate. Duke will usually be laying double-digits at home because it’s Duke but Georgia Southern was a double-digit favorite only once last season and went 5-3 in its eight lined home games. The lines are adjusted in some cases but at times that doesn’t even matter. The Hilltoppers went 8-5 ATS at home last season even though six of those wins came when laying double-digits.

The linesmakers know about which teams are good at home and which teams are not so they know what lines need to be adjusted. However, a number of these games are not high profile games and the lines are still soft so there can still be plenty of value found. When looking at home teams, don’t just look at the previous season. Take a look back at the last five years and see what kind of success took place. Often times, a team can have a bad year or two but can bounce back out of nowhere, especially at home where they used to be unbeatable. That is where the real money can be found.

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