On the whole, teams win more at home than on the road. Lord knows Razorback fans know this. The reasons are obvious – everything from players sleeping in their own beds to getting hype playing in front of their own Harlem Shakin’ fans.
Every now and then, a good team will have a slightly better winning better winning percentage on the road than at home. UALR, for instance, pulled this off in 2009-10 and Memphis did it in 2007-08.
Almost never, though, is a college basketball team demonstrably, unequivocally, better on the road over the course of a season. It has happened in the NFL (the 2000 New Orleans Saints were 7-1 on the road but 3-5 at home) but those are seasoned professionals at work. College kids are college kids – much less likely to be in full control of their emotions and more likely to be susceptible to the vagaries of travel and the road.
And so, it surprised me to learn that there isn’t one, but two, programs who are flipping the script this season and winning at least 16% more games on the road than at home.
The first is the University of Texas-Arlington, which is 10-5 on the road and 7-7 at home. The team has, however, lost its last two games on the road as it opens Western Athletic Conference tournament play today.
Northeastern University has had a season that could well be historic. The Colonial Athletic Association school out of Boston has won an astounding 10 of 12 games on the road – a stat which almost always accompanies a sterling home record. Except, in this case, the Huskies are 7-8 on the road (3-2 on neutral courts).
There hasn’t been a disparity like this in the last nine years of college basketball (Oh yes. I checked.)
So, any chance Northeastern could worm its way into the March Madness and go on an amazing Cinderella run, a la its conference partner George Mason in 2006? Nope. The Huskies lost to James Madison on a neutral court in Richmond, Va.
I’m sure Northeastern wishes the conference had agreed to move the game farther northwest, to James Madison’s home arena in Harrisonburg, Va….