College basketball home-court advantage study

This past weekend I was reminded why it is usually around this time that I like to dig in and study the current state of home-court advantage in college basketball

You see, numerous TV analysts and college hoops experts on “X,” formerly Twitter, harping on how hard it is to win on the road in certain conferences, specifically the Big Ten and Big 12. Normally when I hear bold comments like this without any reference point, I like to find the numbers behind the theory to validate it. 


The analysis was very well-timed as I was due for my home-court advantage study. In it, I like to find and share which teams have been performing best and worst across the country, both in terms of wins and losses, and in what I term to be TRUE HOME-COURT ADVANTAGE RATINGS. I then take these findings and use them to set specific home-court advantage points for every team, which I use in the Power, Effective Strength and Bettors Ratings you see on every day.

I believe this piece and the accompanying chart will serve bettors in several ways. First and foremost, revealing which teams are the best and worst at home across the country, not only by their formulated TRUE HCA points but also by their outright and point spread records as well as their scoring totals. You will also be able to quickly spot which teams are better or worse at home when it comes to conference play versus non-conference play. Use these findings to aid your wagering for the rest of the season. 

One of the most important and debated factors in handicapping sports is determining how much weight to give to home-court/field advantage. The numbers have varied greatly in recent years, in large part due to the havoc wreaked on the sports world by the COVID-19 pandemic, but now that we’re a few years removed, I think it can be safely said that we are back to normalcy. 

I typically dedicate this article to studying both the NBA and college basketball home-court advantage. This time I focused solely on college, seeking specific answers. Specifically, I wanted to find out 1) who the best and worst teams were, 2) how much of a home-court difference has there been between conference and non-conference play, and 3) were there any conferences in which home-court advantage meant significantly more than others. 

I remember many years ago always hearing that three points should be the typical home-court allowance. I also know some handicappers do it from a general sense, issuing a standard two or three points depending on how much they value that particular factor. Others such as myself develop team-specific home-court edges, assuming that there are environments that are tougher than others across the hoops landscape. For that latter group, I am here to help in your quest to determine which teams deserve the most home-court advantage points. 

Let’s face it, we almost have to do the team-specific method as bettors, because there are many reasons why certain teams have a more definitive home-field advantage than others. Among these are lighting/backdrop, crowd capacity/enthusiasm and perhaps even specific traditions at a locale. The degree to which these factor into play can also vary from season to season based on how a team is faring. I am positive that not all teams have the same advantage. Judging home-court edges as equal across the board can lead to mistakes and either missed or lost betting opportunities. I am also sure that you will be convinced after I share my quantified performance results. 

To determine which teams hold the best TRUE HOME-COURT ADVANTAGE in college basketball, I have taken the teams’ game logs at home since the start of the 2021-22 season, or essentially the last 2 1/2 seasons. I compared their average power rating in those games to their opponents’ average power rating, using my actual logged numbers during that span for every game. This margin would be considered the amount they should have won or lost by when meeting on a neutral court or the expected margin. I then compared this amount to the actual point differential that the team accumulated in those games. In essence, it compares the actual result against the expected results. This is the TRUE HOME-COURT ADVANTAGE. Obviously, the teams that had a greater actual differential than expected differential played the “best” at home. For college teams, the margins went as high as +10 for Bradley to -1.2 for Bellarmine and VMI. 

Of course, no one would ever assign a home-court edge of 10 points to Bradley, as that would be a stretch. However, the Braves are worthy of your betting consideration when oddsmakers don’t give them the respect they perhaps deserve when playing as hosts. Just this season alone, Bradley is 8-2 SU and 6-2-1 ATS at home. The Braves’ next home game is Wednesday vs. Murray State. Alternatively, there is no way those setting the lines could penalize Bellarmine or VMI when they play at home, but to give them the full credit of three or more points would also be wrong.

In general, I believe most bookmakers will assign an average of about 3.0 points in a college basketball game to a home team. In this study, I have personally found that the TRUE college basketball number is closer to 3.5 for non-conference games over the last 2 1/2 seasons, but drops to about 2.8 in conference play. Naturally, the familiarity for conference teams on the road is notably greater than for visiting non-conference foes, plus the teams are most often on more similar levels in terms of talent, thus the road team is more comfortable. 

One important thing to note, I don’t specifically assign MY home-court ratings following the True Home-Field Rating, as I also give strong consideration to the straight-up and ATS records, as well as the perceived difficulty of playing at a particular arena. My overall home-court ratings range between 2.0 and 4.0 points and I do make adjustments to lower that number by about 0.6 points for every conference game. 

Let’s take a quick look at some of the other highlights I have found from my college home-court advantage study, then stay tuned toward the end of the week as I do this same exercise for road-court performance.

College basketball home-court advantage study highlights

  • Collectively, the conference with the best overall TRUE home-field advantage rating is in fact the Big 12, at +4.51. That is well ahead of the next five conferences, the MEAC (+4.04), WAC (+4.0), Missouri Valley (+3.96) and Summit (+3.7).
  • The conferences with the least TRUE HOME-COURT ADVANTAGE over the last 2 1/2 seasons have been the Patriot (+1.19), MAAC (+1.96), MAC (+2.04) and Southland (+2.09). If you’re wondering which power conference has shown the least True HCA, it’s the ACC (+2.91).
  • The top six conferences in terms of in-conference play True HCA are the WAC (+4.3), Pac-12 (+3.85), Big 12 (+3.82), SEC (+3.71), Missouri Valley (+3.63) and Big Ten (+3.56). Four of the top six are power conferences, which validates the comments by analysts proclaiming the difficulty of winning on the road in certain power leagues.
  • The same conferences make up the bottom list in terms of in-conference play home-court performance. The Patriot (+1.4), Southland (+1.77) and MAC (+1.93) are the three leagues in which there is truly less than two points of advantage for hosting a conference foe.
  • Six teams have lost just twice at home in college basketball over the last 2 1/2 seasons, all with winning percentages of 94% or better. They are Arizona (42-2), Tennessee, Auburn and Kansas (40-2), Gonzaga (38-2) and Vermont (33-2). Vermont (26-0) and St. Mary’s (16-0) are the only undefeated teams at home in league play during that span.
  • The worst outright record for any team at home since the start of the 2021-22 season belongs to IUPUI, at 3-26. Mississippi Valley State (4-20), Delaware State (6-19) and Eastern Illinois (7-21) are the three other schools that have won less than 25% of home games. If you’re wondering which power conference team has had the worst record, it’s Georgetown at 18-28, and the Hoyas also own the country’s worst mark in conference games, 2-20.
  • Four teams have compiled ATS records better than 70% at home since the start of the 2021-22 season. They are Bradley (27-8 ATS), Southern (16-5 ATS), Indiana State (21-9) and Middle Tennessee State (23-10 ATS). Bradley also owns the best in-conference ATS mark in that period, 17-5 ATS, followed by Nebraska (18-6 ATS) and Gonzaga (12-4 ATS).
  • Three teams have gone under 30% ATS at home over the last 2 1/2 seasons. They are Texas State (7-19 ATS), Portland State (7-18 ATS) and Texas Southern (7-16 ATS). The worst power conference team in this regard has been NC State (15-27 ATS).
  • Only Brown (3-11 ATS), Texas State (5-16 ATS) and Loyola Chicago (5-16 ATS) are under 25% against the Vegas number in league play since the start of the 2021-22 season.
  • The four teams that have played to the average biggest point spreads at home in recent seasons are no surprise. That list is topped by Gonzaga (-22.8) and followed by Houston (-21.4), Connecticut (-19.7) and Arizona (-19.1).
  • Three teams have been worse than seven-point average underdogs at home in recent seasons, and they are IUPUI (+9.2), Mississippi Valley State (+7.8) and Delaware State (+7.1).
  • Five teams have averaged at least 84 PPG in their home games over the last 2 1/2 seasons, they are:
    • Gonzaga – 90
    • Iowa – 89.6
    • Arizona – 87.9
    • Alabama – 86.4
    • Kentucky – 84.7
  • Four teams have allowed 57 PPG or fewer in home games since the start of the 2021-22 season. They are:
    • Houston – 52
    • Virginia – 55.3
    • North Texas – 55.6
    • Iowa State – 56.5

  • The only three teams that have outscored opponents by more than 22 PPG at home since 2021 are Houston (+25.9 PPG), Gonzaga (+22.8) and Arizona (+22.7).
  • Using my formula comparing how much teams have won by at home compared with how much they were supposed to win by based on average power ratings, the top teams for TRUE HOME-COURT ADVANTAGE over the last 2 1/2 seasons have been:
  1. Bradley +10
  2. Alabama +8
  3. Towson State +7.6
  4. Houston +7.5
  5. Norfolk State +7.5

The teams with the worst TRUE HOME-COURT ADVANTAGE ratings based on their home performances over the last 2 1/2 seasons have been:

  1. VMI -1.2
  2. Bellarmine -1.2
  3. Jackson State -1.1
  4. Manhattan -1.1
  5. McNeese State -1

You will find the entire list of all 362 NCAA Division I teams and their home-court performance in THIS CHART with a breakdown by overall and conference games. They are sorted in order of TRUE HOME-COURT ADVANTAGE overall rating.