Makinen: College Basketball road performance forecasts tourney prospects

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Now that the Super Bowl game has come and gone, college basketball usually takes center stage in wagering circles for a lot of bettors. Hopefully, they’re not all starting from scratch and have a good foundation set for making a run at success the rest of the way. Once March hits, it all ramps up for sure. As we at VSiN begin our prep for a huge upcoming month of betting programming and content for all of the tournament action, I thought I’d take a deep dive into the road performances of teams this season, as that is often a good indicator of which programs are poised for success in March.

Among the key indicators are overall road records, road versus home dichotomy, recent strength, and road performance against the top-tiered teams in the country. When you’re through reading this piece, hopefully you’ll have a better idea of which teams may carry solid betting value on college basketball futures. The info should help you navigate the day-to-day betting action as well.

 

Just a note on how I conducted this study. I compiled the game logs for all of the college basketball teams this season and incorporated all of the various adjustments I use in my simulations for injuries, scheduling situations, etc., and compared the results against the level of opponent played. This is the exact methodology I use to determine my Effective Strength indicators, which can be found on the VSiN Power Ratings page updated daily. The data includes games through Sunday, February 12th, and I have grouped neutral court games with road games to get an all-encompassing away-from-home set of data.

Best road performing teams in 2022-23 season by Effective Strength

1. HOUSTON: 10-0 SU and 8-2 ATS – Effective Strength: 25.2

2. CONNECTICUT: 7-5 SU and ATS – Effective Strength: 20.7

3. PURDUE: 11-2 SU and 6-6 ATS – Effective Strength: 20

4. UCLA: 8-4 SU and 6-5 ATS – Effective Strength: 19

5. KANSAS: 8-4 SU and 6-6 ATS – Effective Strength: 18.7

6. TENNESSEE: 8-4 SU but 5-7 ATS – Effective Strength: 18.7

7. ALABAMA: 10-3 SU and 8-5 ATS – Effective Strength: 18.2

8. MARQUETTE: 7-5 SU and 9-3 ATS – Effective Strength: 17.4

9. TEXAS: 7-4 SU but 4-7 ATS – Effective Strength: 17

10. VIRGINIA: 7-3 SU but 4-5 ATS – Effective Strength: 16.8

Worst road performing teams in 2022-23 season by Effective Strength

1. HARTFORD: 0-11 SU and 3-8 ATS – Effective Strength: -24.5

2. LONG ISLAND: 1-14 SU and 5-10 ATS – Effective Strength: -23.1

3. NEW ORLEANS: 1-9 SU and 3-7 ATS – Effective Strength: -19.2

4. IUPUI: 1-15 SU and 7-9 ATS – Effective Strength: -18.5

5. WI-GREEN BAY: 1-16 SU and 5-12 ATS – Effective Strength: -17.7

6. MISS VALLEY ST: 1-19 SU but 12-8 ATS – Effective Strength: -17.6

7. HOUSTON CHRISTIAN: 2-11 SU and 5-8 ATS – Effective Strength: -16.8

8. BETHUNE-COOKMAN: 3-13 SU and 7-9 ATS – Effective Strength: -16.2

9. FLORIDA A&M: 1-14 SU but 10-5 ATS – Effective Strength: -15.1

10. S CAROLINA ST: 1-17 SU and 8-10 ATS – Effective Strength: -14.9

This is essentially a list of the worst teams in the country this season, and it’s no wonder they have struggled so badly on the road. To put these numbers in perspective, my average team power rating is 70.9 this season. If you take the Effective Strength number and add it to 70.9, you’ll get what amounts to a road power rating for each team. Comparing Houston’s and Hartford’s road Effective Strength values, essentially, the Cougars are nearly a 50-point-per-game better team when playing away from home than the Hawks. Interestingly still, two of the teams on this bottom list have winning point spread records, meaning oddsmakers have over-adjusted to these teams’ futility.

 

College basketball teams performing much better on road than at home in 2022-23 season

1. LAFAYETTE: 5-13 SU but 12-5 ATS – Effective Strength margin: 11.2

2. CAMPBELL: 5-9 SU but 9-5 ATS – Effective Strength margin: 8.2

3. MINNESOTA: 2-7 SU but 6-3 ATS – Effective Strength margin: 8.2

4. S FLORIDA: 3-7 SU but 9-1 ATS – Effective Strength margin: 7.7

5. WRIGHT ST: 8-5 SU and 9-4 ATS – Effective Strength margin: 7.6

6. LASALLE: 5-7 SU but 8-3 ATS – Effective Strength margin: 7.4

7. WICHITA ST: 6-5 SU and 8-3 ATS – Effective Strength margin: 7.3

8. CAL SAN DIEGO: 5-9 SU but 9-5 ATS – Effective Strength margin: 7.2

9. E TENN ST: 5-8 SU but 8-5 ATS – Effective Strength margin: 7.1

10. E MICHIGAN: 2-13 SU and 7-8 ATS – Effective Strength margin: 6.9

 

College basketball potential NCAA Tournament teams performing much better on the road than at home in 2022-23 season

1. WISCONSIN: 7-6 SU and 8-5 ATS – Effective Strength margin: 6.1

2. NORTHWESTERN: 7-3 SU and 8-2 ATS – Effective Strength margin: 6.1

3. MEMPHIS: 8-5 SU and 7-5 ATS – Effective Strength margin: 4.4

4. MISSOURI: 5-4 SU and 6-3 ATS – Effective Strength margin: 4

5. PITTSBURGH: 7-4 SU and 9-1 ATS – Effective Strength margin: 3.9

6. KANSAS: 8-4 SU and 6-6 ATS – Effective Strength margin: 3.5

7. AUBURN: 6-6 SU and 7-5 ATS – Effective Strength margin: 3.4

8. HOUSTON: 10-0 SU and 8-2 ATS – Effective Strength margin: 3.3

9. PURDUE: 11-2 SU and 6-6 ATS – Effective Strength margin: 3.2

10. VIRGINIA: 7-3 SU but 4-5 ATS – Effective Strength margin: 2.8

It shouldn’t come as a big surprise to see teams like Wisconsin and Northwestern atop this road achievement list among tournament contenders. Both teams play a style of game that tends to travel well, and they rarely veer from it. If you’re looking ahead to potential Final Four contenders, Kansas, Houston, and Purdue would have to be at the top of your list. If you’re confused as to how to interpret these numbers, consider that at 6.1 Effective Strength Margin, Wisconsin and Northwestern have performed at a level over 6 points better per game on the road this season than at home.

Potential NCAA Tournament teams whose road performance as compared to home in the 2022-23 season could be of concern

1. ALABAMA: 10-3 SU and 8-5 ATS – Effective Strength margin: -10.1

2. RUTGERS: 2-7 SU and 3-6 ATS – Effective Strength margin: -9.5

3. IOWA ST: 4-7 SU and 5-6 ATS – Effective Strength margin: -9.1

4. INDIANA: 5-6 SU and 3-8 ATS – Effective Strength margin: -8.1

5. DUKE: 5-8 SU and 3-10 ATS – Effective Strength margin: -7.8

6. ORAL ROBERTS: 9-4 SU but 6-7 ATS – Effective Strength margin: -7.7

7. CINCINNATI: 4-6 SU and 5-5 ATS – Effective Strength margin: -7

8. IOWA: 4-7 SU and 3-8 ATS – Effective Strength margin: -6.6

9. BAYLOR: 7-4 SU and 5-5 ATS – Effective Strength margin: -6.3

10. GONZAGA: 9-4 SU and 2-11 ATS – Effective Strength margin: -5.5

Although almost all these teams have essentially posted some impressive wins away from home this season, when you consider their bodies of work, they have proven to be far more effective at home than they have away from home. In the case of Rutgers and Iowa State, the margin numbers are quite extreme. I believe it leaves all three programs vulnerable for overseeding and eventually being upset victims in the tournament. To be fair though, considering Alabama, the Tide has been so dominant at home that it makes their very good road performance seem much worse. In essence, Alabama’s Effective Home Power Rating on my scale right now would be 99, a ridiculous figure. On the road, it would be 89, a value still befitting a Final Four team. Duke’s 3-10 ATS record, as well as Gonzaga’s 2-11 ATS mark on the road are clear reasons for concern as well.

Teams who have performed best on the road in the 2022-23 season against Top 60 teams (SM Power Rating 80 or higher)

1. ARIZONA ST: 3-0 SU and 3-0 ATS – Effective Strength: 30.2

2. HOUSTON: 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS – Effective Strength: 24.8

3. PURDUE: 7-2 SU and 5-3 ATS – Effective Strength: 21.7

4. CONNECTICUT: 4-5 SU and 5-4 ATS – Effective Strength: 21.1

5. MEMPHIS: 2-2 SU and 3-1 ATS – Effective Strength: 18.7

6. ALABAMA: 7-3 SU and 7-3 ATS – Effective Strength: 18.4

7. TENNESSEE: 4-2 SU but 2-4 ATS – Effective Strength: 18.2

8. ARKANSAS: 3-4 SU and 4-3 ATS – Effective Strength: 17.4

9. KANSAS: 7-4 SU but 5-6 ATS – Effective Strength: 17.3

10. UCLA: 3-4 SU and ATS – Effective Strength: 17.3

The ability to perform well and beat good teams on the road is paramount when it comes to NCAA Tournament success. These 10 teams have all performed at an equivalent Power Rating of about 88.5 on the road, a key number that I have used in qualifying Final Four and Championship candidates. On this list, you’d have to respect the seven impressive outright road wins by Purdue, Alabama, and Kansas. That’s not only a lot of success but a lot of high-quality road experience as well.

Contending teams who have performed worst on the road in the 2022-23 season against Top 60 teams (SM Power Rating 80 or higher)

1. UTAH ST: 0-3 SU and ATS – Effective Strength: -2.1

2. ORAL ROBERTS: 0-3 SU and 1-2 ATS – Effective Strength: -0.2

3. NEVADA: 0-4 SU and 1-3 ATS – Effective Strength: 3

4. CINCINNATI: 0-3 SU and 2-1 ATS – Effective Strength: 3.6

5. TEXAS TECH: 0-8 SU and 2-5 ATS – Effective Strength: 4.1

6. FLORIDA: 1-8 SU and 3-6 ATS – Effective Strength: 4.3

7. UTAH: 0-5 SU and 1-4 ATS – Effective Strength: 4.8

8. WAKE FOREST: 1-5 SU and 4-2 ATS – Effective Strength: 5.8

9. SETON HALL: 2-6 SU and 4-4 ATS – Effective Strength: 6.2

10. DUKE: 2-8 SU and ATS – Effective Strength: 6.8

When you consider the merits of this grouping, an Effective Strength of 6.8 equates to a Power Rating of about 78. That is about 10 points below the level of a team that I consider a potential Final Four contender. That is the level Duke has performed at on the road against the country’s best teams this season. The other nine teams above Duke on the list have been even worse. None of these teams should be given a lot of consideration in your future brackets or in road games against good teams the rest of the way. Texas Tech’s 0-8 road record versus top teams is a real eye-opener.

Best performing teams in their five most recent road games (by Effective Strength)

1. HOUSTON: 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS – Effective Strength: 23.3

2. TEXAS A&M: 3-2 SU and ATS – Effective Strength: 20.6

3. TENNESSEE: 3-2 SU and ATS – Effective Strength: 20.6

4. MARQUETTE: 3-2 SU and ATS – Effective Strength: 19

5. ILLINOIS: 3-2 SU and 4-1 ATS – Effective Strength: 18.9

6. CREIGHTON: 3-2 SU and 2-3 ATS – Effective Strength: 18.5

7. BAYLOR: 4-1 SU and 3-1 ATS – Effective Strength: 18.1

8. KANSAS: 2-3 SU and ATS – Effective Strength: 17.6

9. DRAKE: 5-0 SU and 3-2 ATS – Effective Strength: 17.6

10. SETON HALL: 4-1 SU and 4-0 ATS – Effective Strength: 17.3

These teams have been most effective lately on the road in terms of outplaying their opponents. For anyone concerned about Kansas’ recent losses on the road, note that even though the Jayhawks have gone 2-3 SU and ATS in their last five road games, they are still effectively playing at a Final Four caliber level. Of note, Houston has not only been the best road team overall in the 2022-23 season, but lately as well.

Contending teams that have struggled in their five most recent road games (by Effective Strength)

1. PENN ST: 0-5 SU and 2-3 ATS – Effective Strength: 3

2. VIRGINIA TECH: 1-4 SU and ATS – Effective Strength: 6.9

3. FLORIDA: 1-4 SU and 2-3 ATS – Effective Strength: 7

4. VILLANOVA: 1-4 SU and 2-3 ATS – Effective Strength: 7.3

5. OHIO ST: 0-5 SU and ATS – Effective Strength: 7.5

6. USC: 1-4 SU and 2-3 ATS – Effective Strength: 8.3

7. UTAH ST: 2-3 SU and ATS – Effective Strength: 8.4

8. UTAH: 2-3 SU and ATS – Effective Strength: 8.5

9. WISCONSIN: 2-3 SU and ATS – Effective Strength: 8.6

10. TEXAS TECH: 1-4 SU and 3-2 ATS – Effective Strength: 8.8

Again, it’s very important to understand that even though Penn State has a positive Effective Strength value in their last five road games, the Nittany Lions’ effective Power Rating would be less than 74. That is 6 points worse than their overall Power Rating. It’s no mistake that PSU has lost its last five road games against quality Big Ten foes. The same can be said for Ohio State, although the Buckeyes’ struggles were a little tougher to foresee. As you can see, Wisconsin finds itself on this concerning list, despite being a better road team overall this season. Villanova and Texas Tech are in uncharacteristic positions, as they are typically among the better road teams in the country, particularly down the stretch.