Home-Road Factor

One week ago I wrote that, despite a home-floor loss to Kentucky, Tennessee still had a good shot to win the SEC East title. Well, a lot has changed in one week.

Kentucky won a road game at Alabama and Tennessee lost a home game to LSU. The Wildcats now stand 5-1 in SEC play, while the Vols are 2-3. The gap between the two teams is even wider than the standings suggest, however.

Kentucky is 2-0 at home and 3-1 on the road within the league. Thus, if the Cats merely win their remaining home games and lose all of their remaining road games they'll finish SEC play 11-5.

Conversely, Tennessee already has two home-floor losses in league play. Thus, if the Vols win their remaining home games and lose their remaining road games they'll finish SEC play 8-8 ... three games behind the Big Blue.

The Big Orange also faces an uphill climb to catch Florida, which is 3-0 at home and 2-1 on the road. If the Gators merely win their remaining home games and lose their remaining road games they'll finish SEC play 10-6.

Essentially, losing to LSU last Wednesday night dropped Tennessee from challenging Kentucky for first place in the East to challenging South Carolina for third place in the East. Believe it or not, one home-floor loss can be that damaging.

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). Florida and Kentucky are tied at 5-1 in SEC play, yet the Cats have a better Home-Road rating (Plus-6 to Plus-4) because they have one more SEC road win than the Gators.

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. A rating of Zero, of course, means you're on pace to finish 8-8.

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

EASTERN DIVISION

Kentucky 2-0 home 3-1 road 5-1 total .... PLUS-6

Florida 3-0 home 2-1 road 5-1 total .... PLUS-4

S.Carolina 4-0 home 0-2 road 4-2 total .... ZERO

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

Vanderbilt 1-2 home 0-3 road 1-5 total .... MINUS-4

Georgia 0-3 home 0-2 road 0-5 total .... MINUS-6

WESTERN DIVISION

Louisiana St. 2-0 home 2-1 road 4-1 total .... PLUS-4

Miss. State 2-0 home 2-1 road 4-1 total .... PLUS-4

Auburn 1-1 home 1-2 road 2-3 total .... ZERO

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

Ole Miss 2-1 home 0-3 road 2-4 total .... MINUS-2

Arkansas 1-2 home 0-2 road 1-4 total .... MINUS-4


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