We’re now a good chunk of the way into the conference season and tendencies are pretty well pronounced for most teams. But questions start to arise in a lot of areas in terms of the differences in how teams play at home and on the road.
I try to keep an eye on this every year starting around this time. Home and road schedules are unbalanced and that provides some noise in the data. Also, since we’re only looking at conference games the sample sizes can be pretty small. For instance, Iowa State has played just five road games which is far from a large sample.
Even so, let’s take a look. Below is the data set for all Big 12 teams in their conference road games. If you read my stuff regularly or apply yourself to “advanced” metrics you should be familiar with all of them. But, they’re also color coded from red (best) to blue (worst).
No surprise that Iowa State is the best road scoring team but the problem has been they’re tied for last in scoring defense too. Texas Tech is also scoring an abysmal 0.76 points per possession on the road. That is just dreadful.
The next most surprising number to me is Oklahoma State and their extremely low offensive rebounding percentage at just 22.6 percent. And along those lines, Iowa State has a surprisingly high rate of offensive rebounds in road games but more on that in a bit.
The national average for free throw rate is 37.1 percent so the fact that TCU and Baylor are both over 43 percent in road games is surprising and really good for them. That opponent free throw rate for West Virginia is just crazy. In their road games opponents have attempted free throws at a rate more than 71. And I would maybe argue that it should be higher with as much as they foul where it goes uncalled.
Based on what we’ve seen and what we know from Fred Hoiberg offenses we probably shouldn’t be surprised that the Cyclones launch 3-point shots at the highest rate on the road at 38 percent and also give up almost the most at 35 percent.
Fouls and opponent fouls per 40 minutes are on the far right and pretty much as expected from what I can tell.
Now, for the same data but in home games.
Raise your hand if you’re surprised that Iowa State is the third best scoring team at home in the Big 12 (I’m raising my hand). The Cyclone defense is also much more respectable in home games by holding teams to 0.94 points per possession. ISU is the best shooting team at home while TCU is really struggling. They should blame that quirky high school gym for that, probably.
Baylor has an absurd offensive rebounding percentage in Waco just north of 44 percent while the Cyclones are in last way down at 24 percent.
But now for what really matters to highlight the differences in style and success from home games to road games; the margins.
The next chart is all of the same data but now it is the difference from home games to road games (home data – road data). So if the number is positive it is greater at home and if it is negative it is greater on the road.
For this chart the data is shaded from red (biggest) to blue (smallest) and not best to worst.
First is the obvious note about Iowa State’s increased win percentage in home games as compared to road. The first surprise to me is how much slower Baylor and Oklahoma State play at home and that ISU plays slower at home too. Though probably not entirely because they want to but likely a product of playing Kansas and Oklahoma on the road because those are two teams that will run with Iowa State.
Texas Tech, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Baylor get the biggest scoring bounce in home games all up above 0.16 points per possession. And not surprisingly the Cyclones allow the biggest jump in scoring on defense in road games.
Oklahoma gets a ten percentage point boost in effective field goal percentage at home while Oklahoma State opponents have dropped an average of 11 percent when the Cowboys are away from Stillwater. Baylor is another team that has shot it much better in their own arena.
The goofy portion of the turnover numbers shows up in Manhattan where Kansas State turns it over almost four percent more than on the road but their opponents also increase their turnovers more than five percent.
The Cowboys have an amazing jump in offensive rebounding in home games while Iowa State and Texas have an almost equally amazing drop at home of right near eight percent. The good news for the Cyclones is that they have done a really good job limiting opponents on the offensive glass in Hilton.
Kansas State gets to the free throw line at an astonishingly increased rate in home games while Baylor goes the opposite direction to an extent that is really, really surprising. Wildcat opponents also tend to shoot more free throws against K-State in Manhattan than anywhere else which is also surprising.
When it comes to fouls, things stay consistent with past years where Iowa State is called for fewer fouls at home and Kansas opponents are called for more in Lawrence. Though, there are a lot of variables there to consider than just officiating favoritism. But they are the two best home court advantages in the league.
That’s the summary, did anything surprise you? I’ll run this again before we head to Kansas City when all things are about as equal as they can be with the round robin schedule.