Home-Road Factor

Losing a home game is a great way to knock yourself out of the SEC basketball race. But winning two road games is a great way to climb your way right back into it.

That's where the Tennessee Vols find themselves four games into the 2008-09 league schedule. They already suffered a home-floor loss (to Kentucky) but that setback is more than offset by road wins at Georgia and Vanderbilt. Here's why:

Historically, SEC teams rarely lose at home and rarely win on the road. Tennessee, Kentucky and Vanderbilt all went 8-0 in SEC home games last season, while Mississippi State and Arkansas went 7-1 at home. Conversely, only two league teams – Tennessee (6-2) and Mississippi State (5-3) – won more games than they lost on the road last season.

During my days as a sports writer for The Knoxville Journal I built this trend into a ratings system I call the Home-Road Factor. It's based on the premise that home wins and road losses are the norm. Thus, the H-R Factor focuses merely on road wins and home losses. Awarding two points for each road win and deducting two for each home loss gives a clearer picture of where each team stands in relation to its divisional foes than traditional standings.

Each SEC team has a Home-Road rating of zero until it wins a road game (moving to Plus-2) or loses a home game (dropping to Minus-2). A team that has a 3-1 home record and a 3-2 road record would carry a rating of Plus-4 ... gaining six points for three road wins but losing two points for one home loss.

Ultimately, the H-R rating is a projection of how many games over/under .500 you will finish if you win your remaining home games and lose your remaining road games. Plus-4 would be four games over .500 or 10-6. Plus-2 would be two games over .500 or 9-7. Conversely, minus-four would be 6-10 and minus-2 would be 7-9.

Tennessee currently stands Plus-2. The Vols incurred a two-point deduction for losing at home to Kentucky but picked up four points for winning at Georgia and at Vanderbilt. Thus, they are on pace to go 9-7 if they win their remaining SEC home games and lose their remaining SEC road games.

Here's a look at the complete SEC Home-Road ratings to date:

EASTERN DIVISION

Kentucky 2-0 home 2-0 road 4-0 total .... PLUS-4

Florida 2-0 home 1-1 road 3-1 total .... PLUS-2

Tennessee 1-1 home 2-0 road 3-1 total .... PLUS-2

S. Carolina 2-0 home 0-2 road 2-2 total .... ZERO

Vanderbilt 1-1 home 0-2 road 1-3 total .... MINUS-2

Georgia 0-2 home 0-1 road 0-3 total .... MINUS-4

WESTERN DIVISION

Louisiana St. 2-0 home 1-1 road 3-1 total .... PLUS-2

Mississippi St. 2-0 home 1-1 road 3-1 total .... PLUS-2

Alabama 2-0 home 0-2 road 2-2 total .... ZERO

Auburn 1-1 home 0-2 road 1-3 total .... MINUS-2

Ole Miss 1-1 home 0-2 road 1-3 total .... MINUS-2

Arkansas 0-1 home 0-2 road 0-3 total .... MINUS-2


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