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Home Court Advantage

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Kansas is going to win the Big 12 because of the home court. Yes, they have a tremendous basketball team, but the scheduling advantage they have will be too much to overcome for even the best team in the Big 12 South. Unlike in football, there are no split standings by division but schedules are made based on divisions. Teams play the other five teams in their division twice (once at home and once on the road) and each of the six teams in the other division once (either on the road or at home).

Even with Kansas in the North, there is no question the South is the better division. Four of the six teams in the South have legitimate hopes of an NCAA bid. Only two teams (Kansas and Kansas State) look to be in line for a berth from the North. Kansas also benefits by playing the three best teams in the South in Lawrence and traveling to play the three worst teams in the South on the road.

How big an advantage is home court? HUGE!

Through three weeks of conference play, home teams are 26-11 (70%). Of those eleven losses by home teams, the home team was favored in only two of them. Missouri lost at home to Kansas State on January 13th as a 3.5 point favorite and Missouri also lost at home to Iowa State on January 6th as an 11 point favorite. The road team was favored in the nine other games lost by a home team in conference play.

What does this mean? It means that the home team wins unless the road team is significantly better, thus favored.  It means that the top six teams, who are also road favorites, are the only ones stealing road wins in conference play. It also means there have been very few upsets so far in Big 12 play. The top six teams in the Big 12 are 18-1 (95%) at home in conference play.

Texas A&M (14-0), Oklahoma State (13-0), and Texas (11-0) are all perfect this season at home. Each of them is also riding a significant home court winning streak stretching back to last season. The Horns have won 22 straight at home (tied for 6th best in the country), the Aggies have won 19 straight (tied for 8th best), and the Cowboys have won 16 straight (tied for 11th best).

Every team in the conference has a winning record at home this season overall except for Colorado. Including Colorado, Big 12 teams are 122-20 (86%). Excluding Colorado's awful 4-7 mark at home, Big 12 teams are 118-13 (90%) at home.

The top contenders must defend their home courts to have any shot at the conference title because everyone else is doing it. If the top four teams all win their home games that means that Texas, Oklahoma State, and A&M all go 2-2 against each other and 0-1 against Kansas. Even if they were perfect elsewhere (which A&M hasn't been already), the three South contenders can do no better than 13-3. Kansas on the other hand would have to drop two more road game to get to 13-3 and, even then, would hold the tiebreaker over any South team achieving that same mark (having beaten them at home). The Jayhawks would have to lose two games from these remaining ones on the road: Nebraska, Missouri, Colorado, Kansas State, and Oklahoma. Not exactly murderer's row.

More upsets are certainly likely, and it would be premature to crown the Jayhawks in January, but with two wins this week they will be well on their way to another Big 12 title.

--AW--