Home-Road Factor

LSU's double-overtime win at Mississippi State Wednesday night didn't clinch SEC basketball's regular-season title but it was a huge step in that direction.

At 8-1 in conference action, the Tigers boast a two-game lead over Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee and Mississippi State ... all 6-3 in league play. Moreover, four of LSU's seven remaining games are in Baton Rouge, where the Tigers are 4-0 in conference play this year.

LSU's title hopes are enhanced further by the fact two of its three road games are against teams with losing SEC records – Arkansas (1-8) and Auburn (4-5). Kentucky (6-3) is the only road foe with a winning record in the league and the Cats already have dropped two SEC games at Rupp Arena this year.

While LSU appears a virtual lock to win the SEC West and regular-season titles, things aren't quite so clearcut in the SEC East. Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee are locked in a four-way deadlock at 6-3.

So, which team has the best shot at separating itself in the East? Billy Donovan's Gators. Four of their seven remaining games are at home, whereas the other three 6-3 teams must play four of their remaining seven on the road. That's significant.

History shows us that SEC basketball teams typically win at home and lose on the road. That's why, 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).

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.

Because four of its final seven games are in Gainesville, Florida will finish 10-6 in SEC play merely by winning its remaining home games and losing its remaining road games. Tennessee, Kentucky and South Carolina all project to finish 9-7 by winning at home and losing on the road.

That said, here's a look at the newest SEC Home-Road ratings, with each team's projected final record in parenthesis:

EASTERN DIVISION

Florida 4-0 home 2-3 road 6-3 total .... PLUS-4 ... (10-6)

S.Carolina 5-0 home 1-3 road 6-3 total .... PLUS-2 ... (9-7)

Kentucky 3-2 home 3-1 road 6-3 total .... PLUS-2 ... (9-7)

Tennessee 3-2 home 3-1 road 6-3 total .... PLUS-2 ... (9-7)

Vanderbilt 3-2 home 1-3 road 4-5 total .... MINUS-2 ... (7-9)

Georgia 0-4 home 0-5 road 0-9 total .... MINUS-8 ... (4-12)

WESTERN DIVISION

Louisiana St. 4-0 home 4-1 road 8-1 total .... PLUS-8 ... (12-4)

Miss. State 3-2 home 3-1 road 6-3 total .... PLUS-2 ... (9-7)

Ole Miss 3-1 home 1-4 road 4-5 total .... ZERO ... (8-8)

Auburn 3-2 home 1-3 road 4-5 total .... MINUS-2 ... (7-9)

Alabama 3-1 home 0-5 road 3-6 total .... MINUS-2 ... (7-9)

Arkansas 1-3 home 0-5 road 1-8 total .... MINUS-6 ... (5-11)


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