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The SEC isn’t so bad… Or maybe it is


A down year in the Southeastern Conference means a down year for Kentucky and its chances of making the NCAA Tournament. While the odds are still favorable that the Cats find their way in, with a better conference overall, Kentucky may not have been teetering so close to the edge for as long as they had.

The current perception of SEC basketball is not good. The Pac-12 was the mutt of the power-six conferences a year ago, but this season the boys in the south are taking all the flak for being the ugly duckling. It is understandable. With only one top-25 team currently in the AP poll, combined with several others — Kentucky, Missouri, and Mississippi — making appearances and dropping out hard, it is difficult to point to the SEC and call the basketball “good” overall.

But there is one thing SEC teams can hold their heads high about. It’s not win-loss record, or number of bids to the tournament, or any notable record-breaking performances. The SEC is the best conference when playing at home.

It means nothing in the grand scheme of things, but it is interesting at least. Kentucky and a handful of other SEC teams dancing on the bubble receive constant criticism from national media for “not having enough quality wins away from home,” which is a fair point. That is certainly a legitimate judge of NCAA tournament résumés. But when you consider just how dominant SEC teams have been at home, you might want to reconsider just how harshly you judge a road loss.


I took the top eight teams from each power-six conference and plugged in their home win-loss record and away win-loss record, including neutral site games. This captures just how good teams are at home and how, ahem, bad teams are when the home crowd isn’t behind them. I also threw in strength of schedule as an added variable to simulate how tough a road win might be, or how difficult it is to earn that home win. It’s quick and dirty but allows added depth to the home and away win percentages.

Without further ado, here are the results…


Click here to see the full spreadsheet of each conference broken down by the top eight teams.

The SEC has an astounding .903 home win percentage, by far the best of the power-six conferences. Boasting an average of 15.1 wins but only 1.6 losses, that is the top mark, beating out the Big East and Big Ten — the two most dominate conferences this season.

Naturally, the SEC is the worst conference away from home, with an abysmal .413 away win percentage. It looks even worse when you consider the Big East is second-best at home, and the best on the road with a .571 win percentage. The Big Ten is close behind with a .519 away win percentage.

When you start to consider strength of schedule though, is where things get really ugly. The SEC has only one team in the top-25 of SOS, and the next closest is distant 42nd. The top eight teams in the SEC have an average strength of schedule of just 74. Compare that to the Big Ten’s 24 and the Big East’s 29 and the bragging rights to the best home conference start to fall apart.

Furthermore, the average strength of schedule of the top eight teams in the five conferences sans the SEC is 38.

The one saving grace is the Pac-12. While the teams out on the west coast have certainly been improved over last season, and all things considered played better than most SEC teams, the conference isn’t too far ahead of where the SEC is right now. And when you consider the rebound their conference had after a bad season, the SEC could follow suit.

What does this all mean? Very little. But it is interesting to think that despite the SEC being so bad overall, the teams get it done at home — even if the competition is weak. Maybe this means the SEC’s home crowds care more? Maybe it means the other conferences care less? It’s a stretch, but it is the only thing I could think of to make sense of these bizarre numbers.

Article written by Stuart Hammer

B.S. Broadcast Journalism from the University of Kentucky. @StuartHammerKSR

11 Comments for The SEC isn’t so bad… Or maybe it is

  1. Cal's Cats
    5:05 pm March 12, 2013 Permalink

    Why would your road success be any more of a judge for who deserves in, then your home success?

    The tournament isn’t played on someone elses court, where all the yelling is towards you. It is played on a neutral court, where you have fans for you and against you.

    In UK’s case, your home success would be more warranted of a judge because of how well we travel. Every game will feel closer to a home environment game for UK than a road game.

  2. Duke Sucks
    5:18 pm March 12, 2013 Permalink

    Let’s be honest the SEC sucked this year! Any year UK is down the league is down.

  3. Tampa Satchel
    5:19 pm March 12, 2013 Permalink

    From what I have seen watching various SEC teams play, including many non-UK games, I would have to point to the officials as the primary reason for the huge home court advantage.

    I officiated youth and high school sports for many years, so I understand the tendency, especially for less experienced officials, to get caught up in the frenzy of a home field or court experience. In my mind, the officials in the SEC (or any BCS conference for that matter) have no business being so home team biased.

    Watching Arkansas at home where they are given 007-like status and it makes it nearly impossible to beat them (UF, UK, OU), then watch them lose on the road to teams like TX AM and blown out by South Carolina!

    I’m not picking on Arkansas because every team gets the same bias and UK likely more than most. I just wish it would stop.

  4. Mike Ranney
    5:41 pm March 12, 2013 Permalink

    When you look at the home and away winning percentages, that says to me a lot more about SEC officiating than anything else. The conference has become a home team conference. It’s like the officials are afraid they’re going to make the home crowd mad, so they just give them an officiating advantage to help them out.

  5. mudcreekmark
    6:27 pm March 12, 2013 Permalink

    UK is horrible this year and so is the rest of the SEC. If Florida truly were a contender to win it all, they wouldn’t have lost to these weak ass SEC teams no matter where they were played. NCAA is down across the board but the SEC has hit an all time low. I cannot remember South Carolina, Mississippi State and Vandy being this bad, ever. This is as bad a UK team that has came through here in years also. BCG’s teams were better than this team.

  6. scukfan22
    6:39 pm March 12, 2013 Permalink

    I think most teams would have tough games on tue road in the sec a lot of years, if you pay attention even when uk is great like last year they get played tough a lot in conference road i

  7. UK Freshmen
    7:45 pm March 12, 2013 Permalink

    Geez….I hope you didn’t hurt yourself by twisting, spinning, and bending to make this torturous argument. Oh, and the Cats are still on the bubble. Make no mistake.

  8. Hal
    9:25 pm March 12, 2013 Permalink

    It’s the officials and the $EC encourages it. It’s the only sure way to draw attendance in a predominant football league. The average fan at these football schools wouldn’t go unless they get all the calls that help their team win.

    In conference games, road teams were 42-84, a whopping .333 winning percentage, by far the lowest of power 6 conference, only one team had winning road record, Florida at 5-4, it’s corruption at its best in the good ole $EC.

  9. Butch
    9:41 pm March 12, 2013 Permalink

    Actually the record is 37-89, 30 percent winning percentage,

    Bama, Florida, Arkansas, UK and Ole Miss were 43-2 at home this year

  10. Skeps
    9:46 pm March 12, 2013 Permalink

    I’m tired of arguing with fellow UK fans about the SEC. Every year, it’s the same old tired argument. “SEC is down” blah, blah,blah. We always here about the Big East being the best. Guess what? It’s all hype. Look at the number of bids the BE gets and look at the results. Look at the out of conference schedules of these teams.

  11. UK Freshmen
    12:39 am March 13, 2013 Permalink

    10- If you’re tired, go take a nap. The SEC is historically horrible this year. Nighty-night.