Road woes continue

Huskers couldn’t hold a first half lead and I don’t think they ever got the lead in the 2nd half.

So this puts them in 5th place in the conference with 2 games left.

Huskers NET drops to 43, but Lunardi still has them as a 9 seed.

Poor shooting, 39% from the field and 30% from 3 pt. OSU shot 20 more FT’s and 10 more rebounds. Tominaga was abysmal from the field shooting only 25% including 0-6 from 3.

Very disappointing performance.

Greg Zimmerman, UNL '75
Overland Park, Kansas

Does anyone track fouls/free throw attempts by home/away/neutral? I know some people say the home team gets the close calls, is there any statistical evidence for that?

It would be tough to get any reliable stats on that. The first thing what would have to be determined is what constitutes a “close call”?

John Papenhagen

I’m just looking for differentials based on home/away/neutral locations. If teams shoot significantly more free throws in home games than away games, that seems to suggest there’s a home team effect, though not causality. There probably aren’t enough neutral site games in a season to have much statistical weight.

Sorry for the late reply, was on the road…

Back in 2011, Tobias Moskowitz (a behavioral economist at U of Chicago) and L. Jon Wertheim (sportswriter) published Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won. You might still be able to track down the book in the local library system. Amazon still offers it on Kindle.

Its focus was on home field advantage. The biggest takeaways from the book were that:

  1. Basketball has the second largest home-field advantage in professional sports, behind only soccer.
  2. The primary source of home-field advantage is referee bias in favor of the home team, especially for calls in high-leverage situations.

Digging further into the numbers, they say that soccer’s home advantage comes from having one of the highest-leverage judgment calls in sports when the ref has to decide whether to award a penalty kick for a foul in the box and they also note the significant difference in stoppage time allotted based on whether the home team is ahead, tied or behind when regulation time runs out.

For basketball, it is the sheer number of opportunities to make judgment calls on foul calls over the course of the game, well ahead of the opportunities for throwing flags or altering the strike zone (though both effects exist in their respective sports as well).

Another Freakonomics type of book, it seems. U of C has never been a place where economics is dull.

Coincidentally, yesterday I saw a link to a story (that I didn’t read) about some MLB teams for whom playing at home has not been an advantage.

I am not responding to a book, article, or whatever. I am just throwing out some things about home team advantage.

I believe the home team does have an advantage to a certain level. I just the bigger advantage doesn’t lie with home crowd, home field/stadium, referees make more calls for the home team, and whatever.

I think the main home advantage comes with players sleeping in their own beds, living with a familiar routine and surroundings, not having to travel be it via, a plane/terminals, bus, etc. Any travel over 100 miles takes something out of a person regardless of travel mode anyway and they have to play an athletic event.

To me every arena is a little different both in the physical arena, the floor, and atmosphere. The crowd is a part of that atmosphere but only a part. I believe this affects visiting basketball teams more than other sports. Since much of the time is spent practicing on the same floor the team plays home games on that is advantage home team.

A lot of basketball teams are like UNL right now in that they don’t do all their practicing on the game floor but they do an amount of practicing at Pinnacle it is an advantage.

Anyway, those are the things to me that really make the difference.

John Papenhagen

The Scorecasting book does consider this theory among several other possible causes for the disparity as well. This article from 2015 by Nathan Pinger summarizes some of their findings.

Home Field Advantage: The Facts and the Fiction

The authors noted that the home-field advantage is not diminished in games between cross-town opponents like Angels-Dodgers or Rangers-Islanders, which tends to rule out travel as being a significant factor.

Also, both the book and the article were written at the beginning of the last decade. Since then, unfortunately, the pandemic seasons in the various sports gave us a fairly natural experiment for home field advantage. Even in the sports with travel and that mostly stayed in their own facilities (unlike the Orlando bubble for the end of the NBA season), the home field advantage vanished, leaving either the direct effects of the crowd or the secondary effects of the crowd as the only plausible sources of the advantage.

In the original book, the authors came to the conclusion that it was the secondary effect caused by the refs reacting to the crowd that was the dominant factor. As I recall, they were not making any claims of conscious bias, just that when in doubt, there was a statistical advantage to having the crowd on your side. The most damning evidence towards that argument was the bias concerning stoppage time in soccer because that is not even making a judgment in the moment about the current action on the pitch. The booth is supposed to be accumulating all of the stoppage time during the course of the match and announcing it at the end of regulation. A lot of that stoppage time would have been accumulated early in the half, often before it was known whether the home team would need to have an extra minute or two to get the equalizer. But still, there is a clear record of home teams trailing by one getting an extra minute or two longer than the average stoppage time while home teams leading by one have to defend that lead for a minute or two fewer than the average.

Mike Nolan mentioned a headline that a couple of MLB teams that seem to have developed a home disadvantage. By itself, that is an argument against familiarity with the playing field being a significant advantage. Baseball, of course, has the most variable playing fields.

But I think it is also a measure of the effectiveness of MLB evaluating their umpires based on their conformance with the computer’s strike zone (the continuing presence of Angel Hernandez in the league notwithstanding). There are comparatively fewer opportunities for umpire bias to affect baseball games and the primary opportunity to display bias is in the strike zone. By reducing those effects, the league with already the smallest home field advantage has had the advantage shrink further. (And I say this as a Rockies fan, where there are undeniably large differences in how the game is played here.)

MLB now has the challenge system (though not for balls and strikes), as does the NFL, is there data on whether challenges by the home team are more successful than challenges by the visiting team?

Given how much grief Buie was taking from the MSU fans the other day, it’s hard to believe that didn’t have any impact on SOMEONE.

Depending on many factors home field (court, pitch, whatever) can be a mercurial thing. Wasn’t there a stretch during the Pelini years when the team performed better on the road than home? IIRC, the explanation at the time was there were fewer distractions and therefore more focus when the team was traveling.

Bill Smith
Towson, MD

The football season is so short that scheduling has a lot of impact on home/road differential. If we host Maryland and Indiana instead of OSU and Penn State, that’s gonna shift the ‘home field advantage’. And with MSU you never know if it’ll be Jeckyll or Hyde.

Throwing in the 4 west coast teams mixes things up even more, UCLA has not been strong the last few years, USC usually is, and so are Washington and Oregon. But that could change in the next few years.

I have heard that argument a few times. When interviewed players of different sports have said there were less distractions and less pressure to perform well when not in front of the home crowd.

John Papenhagen