Home field advantage is no myth

By Blake Snow

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Sept. 12 2011 10:00 p.m. MDT

In fact, the numbers bear this out. Since it's a lot harder to prepare for a team you've never played or haven't seen in a long time, most road wins happen when playing nonconference teams.

So what leads to those rare home losses?

"I don't know if there's a common thread," said Whittingham. "At least, we haven't been able to pinpoint any one factor to losing a game at home. It all boils down to a lack of execution."

Morrill, whose teams have averaged only one home loss per season during his 13-year tenure, cites two reasons.

"Usually they were really good," he said of the victors. And once in a while, "you feel like a guy pulled something on you. In sports, there's no worse feeling than being outcoached, particularly at home."

If you really want to overcome home-field advantage, however, you have to believe. It sounds corny, but it's difficult to do when you consider the odds. For example, football teams win an estimated 60 percent of the time at home. Basketball teams win 70 percent of the time at home. And in the NBA, playoff teams win an overwhelming 80 percent of the time at home.

Consequently, teams who accept those numbers play as expected and lose when they're supposed to. Teams who reject those numbers play with a sustained effort throughout the game. When coupled with an uncommon offense, they're even capable of becoming slight favorites, Gladwell found, winning upward of 64 percent of the time.

Fredette believes those two ingredients — deceptive offense and mental toughness — are what's made him Jimmer. Not only that, but they keep him going.

"All my life, I have ignored the odds. I've been told by critics at every stage of my career that I couldn't play. But I also know that playing hard is 50 percent of winning and outsmarting your opponent always gives you a big advantage."

BYU vs. Utah

From 1992 to 2006, the road team won 11 of the 15 rivalry football games — including six straight from 1995-2000. However, the home team has won the last four matchups.

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