There's No Place Like Home - TheStreet

In our last

column, we began a discussion of factors that affect the point spread and may be worth considering when making a wager in college basketball. We continue this week by analyzing the predictive value of a team's road record in gauging its possible success in conference tournaments and the

NCAA

tournament. We'll also look at how travel schedules can affect performance and the impact of nationally televised games on certain teams.

Home/Road Dichotomy

A number of teams play like all stars at home but morph into dogs on the road.

Bradley University

is 7-4 against the spread, or ATS, at home but only 1-9 ATS on the road. Among Lieberman's Top 25 teams,

Kentucky

is 6-4 ATS at home but only 3-6 ATS on the road.

Oregon

is 4-3 ATS at home and 3-5 ATS on the road. Not surprisingly, most of the Lieberman Top 25 teams are excellent teams to bet on when they are on the road. No. 1

Cincinnati

is 5-6 ATS at home but is a stellar 6-3 on the road.

Duke

is 8-3 ATS at home and 9-1 ATS on the road. With March Madness rapidly approaching, the single most important statistic in picking point-spread winners in conference tournaments and the NCAA tournament is whether a team can perform well on the road.

A few potential NCAA tournament teams that have very poor road records both straight up, or SU, and against the spread are:

Auburn

, 12-0 SU at home but only 2-4 SU on the road;

Kansas

, 10-1 SU at home and 4-5 SU on the road; Kentucky, 10-0 at home and 4-6 SU on the road;

Michigan State

, 9-0 SU at home and 6-5 SU on the road;

North Carolina State

, 11-2 SU at home and 1-7 SU on the road;

NC Wilmington

, 9-1 SU at home and 1-9 SU on the road;

Notre Dame

, 10-3 SU at home and 3-6 SU on the road;

South Florida

, 11-0 SU at home and 1-7 SU on the road;

Utah

, 12-0 SU at home and 4-5 SU on the road; and

Wisconsin

, 10-3 SU at home and 3-9 SU on the road.

Travel Troubles

Another handicapping factor to consider is whether the competing teams are equally rested. Because of TV schedules, college teams that are used to playing two games a week may end up playing three games in a five-day period. If some of those games involve cross-country trips, the extra games and the travel will take its toll on the 18- to 21-year-olds who play college basketball. For example, this week,

Creighton University

has to play three games in five nights. On Wednesday, the Bluejays lost to Bradley. On Saturday, Creighton plays at

Wichita State

, and on Monday, the Bluejays host

Evansville

. While the Bluejays are a fairly deep team, they're sure to have "tired legs" in Monday night's tilt. Teams that have to play in Hawaii also have trouble.

Hawaii

is 11-4 SU and 9-6 ATS at home but only 1-5 SU and ATS on the mainland. Teams that have to travel to Honolulu often suffer jet lag on their return and are sluggish in their next few games.

Televised Games

While we don't have the statistics to back up this claim, we think nationally televised games favor the home team when the home team arena is sold out. (Send an

email if you've got anecdotal evidence for or against this.) This is particularly true of home underdogs. When was the last time you saw a nationally televised game where the fans did not come pouring out of the stands when a home underdog won? While a game that is televised nationally increases the motivation for both teams to play to their full capabilities, the adrenaline rush provided by a loudly cheering home crowd often encourages the home team to overachieve. This week, look for

Oklahoma

to put a whuppin' on

Missouri

in the Saturday night nationally televised game on

ESPN

.

Lieberman's Top 25 This Week

This Weekend's Top 25 Games

This week, there are five games pitting Lieberman's Top 25 teams. On Saturday,

Maryland

hosts

North Carolina

and should be about a 6-point favorite.

Indiana

hosts Michigan State, and the Hoosiers should be about a 1-point favorite. Indiana was embarrassed earlier this week at

Illinois

, and Bobby Knight should have his team ready to play a big game. Indiana is 11-2 SU at home, and we'll be making a wager on the Hoosiers if they are underdogs or we only have to lay 1 point. If they are a 2-point favorite or more, we won't be making a play.

On Saturday night,

Iowa State

hosts

Oklahoma State

in the matchup that will probably decide the Big Twelve regular season champion. Iowa State should be favored by about 3 points. We'll be making a wager on the game only if the line is more than 3 points off our projected line; that is, if it's a Pick'em game we'll be betting on Iowa State and if Iowa State is favored by 6 points or more, we'll be wagering on Oklahoma State.

On Sunday,

Florida

hosts Auburn. The Gators should be favored by 11 points. This is one game we'll be betting on if our projected line is the actual line. As you can tell from our power ratings, Auburn is a grossly overranked team. The Tigers' record is the only reason they are ranked 11th in the AP poll. Florida is a young team that is getting better every week and has a legitimate shot at making the

Final Four

in the NCAA Tournament. They pressure the opposition all game, regardless of the score. We're hoping that the public overrates Auburn and we can make our bet laying single digits. If the line is 11 or less, we'll be on the Gators. The play will become stronger (more money) if the line is 9 points or less.

The other Sunday matchup is a great one. An underrated Illinois team visits

Ohio State

. The line on the game should be Ohio State -3 1/2. We think Illinois is a better team than Ohio State. Our only concern is that the young Illinois team is coming off a major drubbing of Indiana on Tuesday. Illinois has a very underrated coach in Lon Kruger, but because the team is so young, it often plays undisciplined basketball. That will be fatal against a veteran Ohio State team. We won't be playing the game unless we can get Illinois plus at least 5 1/2 points.

Next week, some of the conference tournaments begin. We can't wait for March Madness to start because it's our favorite time of the sports year.

Would you like to see a midweek Vegas Vice when the basketball tournaments begin?

God no.

Hell yes.

I would rather be forced to read Padinha.

Gambling is evil and wrong.

Barry Lieberman is the general counsel for a Las Vegas gaming company and an associate of James Padinha. He's been an amateur gambler for more than 20 years, and welcomes your feedback at

barrylieberman1@prodigy.net.