There’s a generally reliable and time-tested truism in college basketball: Home court is a big advantage.
Unless you’re in the Big East, of course, where that advantage has become an inverted disadvantage through three weeks of league play.
In conference action, Big East teams are 20-22 at home, marking the only such league in all of Division I that boasts a better collective road record. Six games into the mini-season, only one team (South Florida) is still without a road win, one fewer than the two teams (DePaul and Seton Hall) in search of their first win at home. Cincinnati (1-2 home) and Pittsburgh (1-2 home), which own two of the five-best home records in the Big East over the last five years, are both under .500 on their home floor in league play.
Think most upsets happen at home? In general, you’re right. Over the last ten seasons, 84-percent of upset wins over ranked teams occurred on the underdog’s home floor. But that hasn’t been the case this year in the Big East, where four ranked teams—including top-ranked Louisville last weekend—have already fallen on their home court to unranked or lower-ranked opponents. By contrast, only three upsets in conference play to date have occurred on the winning team’s home floor.
Historically, there’s no greater home-venue advantage in major American sports than in college basketball, where the home team wins on average 70-percent of the time. That clip is down to 63-percent nationwide this year, however, and the Big East’s home court swoon is a major reason why.
Two top-five teams have bitten the dust at home already this season (No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 6 Syracuse and No. 2 Indiana vs. Wisconsin) and several more top-ranked squads (No. 3 Syracuse vs. No. 21 Cincinnati, No. 2 Duke vs. No. 4. Ohio State, No. 6 Kansas vs. Temple and No. 6 Kansas vs. Iowa State) have received big-time scares in their building.
For whatever reason—perhaps due to dulling crowds, mentally tougher teams or parity throughout the sport—the benefits of having home court aren’t having the same influence on games as they once did. In the Big East, it’s all about the road court advantage now.
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