Rounding Third and Heading Home
By Marc Lawrence
In the blink of an eye the 2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament will begin its annual pulse-pounding extravaganza. In all likelihood hearts will be broken, a new champion crowned, and memories of upsets and game-winning shots will leave the court in assured dramatic fashion when the 'Big Dance' takes center stage Thursday, March 17th.
Before we take in all the 'Big Dance' has to offer, there remains the final portion of the regular season as teams jockey for position prior to conference seeding tournament action. As you know, the higher the finish in the regular season standings the better the slotting in conference tourney play. And with it comes my favorite time of the regular season, namely Last Home Games.
Last Home Games often times find teams putting their best foot forward. This happens primarily because teams choose to honor outgoing seniors in their final home game. It is 'their day', a game played in recognition of the sweat and toil laid on the line by seniors on the squad in their four years at the university. These games also carry added significance from other emotional angles as well.
Most teams look to leave a favorable impression in their final home game of the season. Adding fuel to the fire, revenge is a great performance enhancer in Last Home Game scenarios. Playing off a loss (or a string of defeats) tends to bring out the best in these finales. So, too, does playing in the role of an underdog, especially when it involves winning teams.
In fact, a search of my powerful database shows me that, on the blind, double-digit (+10 or more points) underdogs in their final home game of the season are a rather nifty 70-52-3 ATS since 1990.
In addition, home dogs in their Last Home Game who won their previous game straight up as an underdog are just as impressive, going 70-51-5 ATS. And if these teams own a win percentage of .464 or more they are 36-17-2 ATS, including 30-12-1 ATS when seeking revenge.
That's it for now. I'm heading home and getting ready for the Big Dance, if you know what I mean..