Thursday, January 27, 2011

Taking the Fastest 40 Minutes on the road

The basic premise of this blog is pretty simple: it's hard to win on the road in the Big 12. That's an opinion, I guess, but the fact is the road team wins about one out of three games. The question, as I see Mizzou start 3-0 in home Big 12 games and 0-2 in road Big 12 games, is this: do Mike Anderson's Tiger teams struggle more, less, or about the same on the road as the league average?

In short, Anderson's teams are better than league average on the road, but the difference between his home and road win percentages is slightly greater than the difference between the whole league's home and road win percentages.

First, some background on how much home teams dominate Big 12 play. I'll have to compare the following numbers to other leagues later, but I have heard ESPN's Doug Gottlieb (who played in the Big 12) say it's tougher to play on the road in the Big 12 with its fairly frenetic crowds than the Big East, with its urban commuter campuses and less-than-capacity crowds. Here's a look at the home-road breakdown:

1,377 Big 12 games (through Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011)
Home teams: 913-464 (.663)
Road teams: 464-913 (.337)

There's more. Out of all Big 12 teams ever, only 16 have gone 6-2 or better (out of 168 all-time road schedules). Five have gone 7-1 (four of which were Kansas). Only one went 8-0 on the road, the 2001-02 Kansas Jayhawks, the only team to go 16-0 in Big 12 play. In contrast, 20 teams have gone 8-0 at home.

Now, for Anderson. Now in his fifth year at Mizzou, Coach is 25-10 (.714) at home and 13-21 (.382) on the road through today. Here's a look at how Anderson compares to the Big 12 averages for both his time at Mizzou and the entire history of the league. (home/road/difference)

Anderson/Mizzou: .714/.382/.332
Big 12, 06-07--now: .662/.338/.324
Big 12, all-time: .663/.337/.326

So slice it either way: Anderson gets more of a win percentage boost from playing at home, or his overall win percentage is hurt more by playing on the road. But, you'll note the home/road win percentage differences are within one percent of each other.

And one could see how the primary disadvantage of playing on the road (not getting as many calls from refs) could be a little extra challenging for Anderson's teams, who of course strive to play at the edge of mayhem on defense.

So, when Anderson and the Tigers go on the road, they have about half as good a chance of winning as at Mizzou Arena, overall... Which is just about what it is for the Big 12 as a whole.

The good news? Mizzou has tied for the third-best road record in the Big 12 each of the last two years. Plus the Tigers are usually a threat to run the table at home these days, and joining the above list, those who went 6-2 or better, means a special season. We'll see if MU can get started on shoring up the road record down at Texas Saturday night, where they won in dramatic fashion two years ago.

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