Kansas’ home court advantage will be the difference

Posted on: January 16th, 2012 by jayhawktalk No Comments

AFH - The biggest home court advantage in college basketball

The following post comes from @Pay_Heed, a guest blogger to Jayhawk-Talk:

For those of you fortunate enough to have attended a game in Allen Fieldhouse, this post will be nothing groundbreaking. It is a magical place, a place where the Jayhawks have won 86% of their games since the building opened in 1955. Bill Self has an astounding 95% win percentage in the hallowed halls. The numbers are just silly.

I wanted to provide a bit of an unscientific statistical illustration of just how good Kansas is on its home court. To start, I tried to rack my brain to remember a time during my life when Kansas wasn’t a Vegas favorite to win at home. My interest in this bit of trivia was piqued when #2 Ohio State woke up the morning of the December 10 game against Kansas as 1½-point favorites to win. So what were my findings?

Like a casino, the house always has the edge.

My research basically indicated that there aren’t any Internet archives with betting lines old enough to find the last time that KU was a home underdog. Let me preface my next few statements by saying I was not able to find every line. And since betting has only become less taboo in the new millennium, it was much easier to find lines from more recent years.

A review of archived box scores, game previews and betting lines revealed Kansas to be favored in every home matchup since 1994 (I couldn’t find much older than that). That means that there are freshmen on campus today that have not been alive since Kansas was last a home underdog. I’ll let that marinate for a minute…

Funny thing is, that statement is still true today. When the news of Jared Sullinger’s back issue spread through the betting world, the line moved considerably. Kansas went from being a 1½-point underdog to a 3-point favorite in a few short hours.

The foregoing numbers are astounding. They also help to provide some statistical support to back up what we already knew about the Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks have an advantage that outpaces any home court in the country. I believe this is attributable to several factors:

  • Players – There is no denying that there has been a plethora of elite talent in both the Roy Williams and Bill Self eras. You can’t win 95% of your home games without great players. If you have better players you’re going to win most of your games.
  • Coaching – Whether it’s great in-game adjustments, great scouting and game planning or great use of timeouts, coaching certainly factors into the great advantage of AFH.
  • AMAZING fans – Without a doubt the loudest venue in the nation couldn’t be so without unbelievable fans. That was on display in spades Saturday against Iowa State.

While the Bears will show up with the higher ranking tomorrow, I predict that Kansas will open at -1.5 or -2.0. The line could move throughout the day, but I’d be shocked if Kansas ends up an underdog at tip-off.

The one thing that worries me about the matchup itself is 3-point shooting, on both sides. Baylor is a great 3-point shooting team at 41.5% (6th in the nation). Meanwhile, we have seen KU struggle to defend the 3-point line this season, although statistically the Hawks only allow ­­­­­­33.8% from three (167th). The Hawks have only shot 34.8% from three this season (149th), and against Baylor’s 2-3 zone that could be problematic. The Bears are giving up 32.2% (98th).

All that taken into account, I think that our home court advantage will be the deciding factor in the game, as it has so many times over the last two decades. I think KU will pull out a close victory.

Remember, if you’re planning on attending, be loud. You make the difference.

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