By Hank Duncan
A couple months ago, I decided to find out the home court advantage of the Indiana University Men’s Basketball team. The number I came up with, 3.67, represents only a part of the Hoosiers’ advantage at Assembly Hall.
In my first attempt at finding the home court advantage, I only accounted for Big Ten conference games. While this sample size of games keeps a relatively stable strength of schedule for both home and away games, it also only accounts for half the games of the entire basketball season.
I didn’t feel satisfied with my work and eventually revisited the question: What is IU’s true home court advantage?
But this time, I focused on the home court advantage when playing top teams versus mediocre teams. Anyone who has ever gone to Assembly Hall knows that, when IU plays a top tier opponent, the arena becomes so loud that you are unable to hear yourself think. For instance, when the Hoosiers played North Carolina in late November, I could actually feel the noise throughout the stadium. It was incredible. However, there are also games where the crowd never gets up out of their seat. Last week against Rutgers, the atmosphere felt completely dead.
So, is there more of a home court advantage when playing against a team like North Carolina or a team like Rutgers?
To answer this question, I looked into every game IU played from the last five seasons (2011-2012 to 2015-2016). I compiled the margin of victory for each game, but separated the data into three categories: home, away, and neutral. Home court advantage is essentially comparing the margin of victory against a team at a neutral site versus at your own home court.
To separate the data into good teams and bad teams, I made five different categories of opposing teams: teams ranked 25th or less, teams between 51-100, 101-150, 151-250, and 251 and above. To separate each opposing team into one of these categories, I retrieved the Ken Pom rankings for each team from the end of each season within this set of data.
After creating these five categories, I calculated the average margin of victory for home, away, and neutral games for Indiana from 2011-2016.
|Ken Pom Ranking of Opposing Team||# of Home Games Played||Home Margin of Victory||# of Away Games Played||Away Margin of Victory||# of Neutral Games Played||Neutral Margin of Victory|
|25 and below||18||3.72||18||-8.67||13||-3.85|
|251 and above||23||30.65||1||7.00||0|
Although the margin of victories is interesting to look at, our goal is still to find the true home court advantage.
After a number of calculations, I found that the home court advantage for the Indiana University men’s basketball team is larger when playing a top team versus playing against a mediocre team.
|Ken Pom Ranking of Opposing Team||True Home Court Advantage|
|25 and below||6.83|
|250 and above||11.83|
While the difference in advantage from a top 25 team to a 26th-50th ranked team is only 0.62 points, that has the potential to decide the game. Who knows, but those 0.62 points might have been the key factor when Indiana knocked off Kentucky in 2011.