BOZICH BLOG: Pitino Credits Refs For Shrinking Homecourt Edge - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH BLOG: Pitino Credits Refs For Shrinking Homecourt Edge

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Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino credits improved officiating and TV with the shrinking homecourt edge in college basketball. Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino credits improved officiating and TV with the shrinking homecourt edge in college basketball.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The road is where you never get a call. It's where you shoot at rims that you don't know as well as the friendly rims you know at home.

Hotels have lumpy mattresses and bed bugs. Flights are delayed. Somebody in the student section is calling you names that you can't believe.

Home is where you want to be in college basketball, right? Jeff Sagarin's college basketball analytics, a formula he has tested over decades, rewards a team with 3.5- point advantage for playing at home.

Guess what?

This season it appears the home teams need the points, especially in the Big East.

The homecourt advantage has been about as advantageous as a glass of warm spit. Maybe that is good news for the University of Louisville.

After losing at home to Syracuse Saturday, the Cardinals have Villanova precisely where they want them – at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. That's where the teams will play at 8 p.m. Tuesday. ‘Nova got whacked by Pittsburgh, 58-43, the last time the Wildcats played at home. Of course, they did.

"The thing that's unique about the Big East before it breaks up is all the different styles," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "The one thing you can see about the Big East is you can win on the road, compared to some of the other conferences. Also, you can lose to anybody on any given night."

The sample size remains small. That's important to remember. Most teams have yet to play a third of their conference schedules. But here are the numbers for road teams in league play for the six BCS conferences this season:

1. Big East, 21-19, .525 winning percentage

2. Big Ten, 16-16, .500.

3. Pac-12, 15-17, .469.

4. SEC, 12-16, Big 12, 9-12, .429.

6. ACC, 9-17, .346.

Overall that makes road teams 82-97 – .458 winning percentage. Not bad.

Get this: In the Big East, 13 of 15 teams have already lost home games. In the SEC, the number is nine of 16 teams, including Kentucky. In the Big Ten, it's eight of 12, including Indiana and Minnesota.

What's going on here?

More evidence of parity? A generation of players schooled on the non-stop travel of AAU basketball who have learned not to flinch playing anywhere, any time any place? Global warming? Concerns about the debt ceiling?

Pitino has multiple theories – improved officiating, the illuminating eye of television and grittier players.

"It's the refereeing today is so schooled not to react to the crowd," Pitino said. "That is the number one thing  (why) I think teams win on the road today. It's the strength of the refereeing.

"John Adams (the NCAA national coordinator of officials) is getting to the point right now with the coaches, if they berate or swear at an official, it's an automatic technical foul.  So they can't try to do that.  They can now referee the game.

"I think television is the second factor …  Referees don't want to be embarrassed by making the wrong calls on TV because (ESPN analyst) Jay Bilas is going to jump down their throat with Sean McDonough (another ESPN announcer).

"They realize they're on national television and they don't want to look like a homer. In the old days they called it that."

Anything else?

"Players have gotten tougher mentally," Pitino said. "I think it doesn't bother them as much. They're much more ready to play on the road. Refereeing has helped. TV has helped.

"Probably the third factor is the strength of these conferences has gotten so strong that it has made them tough on the road."

Even if somebody in the student section is calling you a name that you can't believe.

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