Home-Road Factor

A wild weekend significantly changed the outlook in the SEC East basketball race.

Kentucky took a big step forward by winning a road game at Arkansas.

South Caroline took a big step forward by winning a road game at Alabama.

Florida spun its wheels by losing a road game to a Georgia team that was 0-9 in SEC play coming in.

Tennessee, meanwhile, held serve at home against Vanderbilt to remain alive in the division race.

As history shows, SEC basketball teams tend to win at home and lose on the road. That's why a road win is so significant and a home loss is so devastating to a team contending for a division title. Twenty years ago, as a sports writer/columnist for The Knoxville Journal, I incorporated this concept into a ratings system I call the Home-Road Factor.

The Home-Road Factor dismisses home wins and road losses as the norm, instead awarding two points for each road win and deducting two points for each home loss. This corrects a flaw in traditional standings, which tend to favor a team that has fattened its record at home and penalize a team that has played more games on the road.

Consider Tennessee and Florida. Traditional standings show the Vols 7-3 in SEC play, one game ahead of the 6-4 Gators. What traditional standings don't reflect is that Florida has played just four of its 10 SEC games at home, whereas Tennessee has played six of its 10 SEC games at home. Four of the Gators' six remaining league games will be at home, meaning they are likely to finish strongly. Four of the Vols' six remaining league games will be on the road, meaning they are likely to fade down the stretch.

The Home-Road Factor reflects this. Despite a worse won-loss record, Florida actually has a better Home-Road rating (plus-4) than Tennessee (plus-2). This means that if the Gators win their remaining home games and lose their remaining road games they'll finish four games above .500 or 10-6. If the Vols win their remaining home games and lose their remaining road games they'll finish two games above .500 or 9-7.

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

EASTERN DIVISION

S.Carolina 5-0 home 2-3 road 7-3 total .... PLUS-4 ... (10-6)

Kentucky 3-2 home 4-1 road 7-3 total .... PLUS-4 ... (10-6)

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

Tennessee 4-2 home 3-1 road 7-3 total .... PLUS-2 ... (9-7)

Vanderbilt 3-2 home 1-4 road 4-6 total .... MINUS-2 ... (7-9)

Georgia 1-4 home 0-5 road 1-9 total .... MINUS-8 ... (4-12)

WESTERN DIVISION

Louisiana St. 5-0 home 4-1 road 9-1 total .... PLUS-8 ... (12-4)

Miss. State 3-2 home 3-2 road 6-4 total .... PLUS-2 ... (9-7)

Ole Miss 3-1 home 1-5 road 4-6 total .... ZERO ... (8-8)

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

Alabama 3-2 home 0-5 road 3-6 total .... MINUS-4 ... (6-10)

Arkansas 1-4 home 0-5 road 1-8 total .... MINUS-8 ... (4-12)


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