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There's No Place Like Home: A Statistical Analysis of Wake Forest's Road Woes

In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy Gale had her sparkling ruby slippers, and in the ACC, the Demon Deacons have the Lawrence Joel Memorial Coliseum; for both, there's no place quite like home.

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Any loyal Wake Forest fan who has watched our games this year has seen two very different teams: home and away. Websites such as FireBz show statistics such as Jeff Bzdelik's dreadful ACC road record, which is now 1-25 through his first three seasons on the Wake Forest sideline. Those statistics will also be prominently displayed in the sports section of the Greensboro News & Record during the 4 days of the ACC Tournament. I suppose a Jeff Bzdelik defender (all 6 of them) could say, 'yes his road record is very poor, but how many of those games were we supposed to win anyway?' Truth be told, according to KenPom we were not favored to win any individual road game this season, but our expected number of wins over the course of those 9 games was 1.9.

Our average expected home ACC game this season was supposed to be a 4.11 point loss, but what happened was that our actual average home ACC game was a 4.89 point win, which is a 9 point or an incredible 219% increase. Our expected road ACC game this season was supposed to be a loss by 10.89 points, but we actually lost each road ACC game by an average of 15.33 points, or a 41% decrease from what was expected.

Opponent Location Projected Outcome Actual Outcome Net
Boston College Home 3 3 0
Duke Home -17 -5 12
Florida State Home -1 25 26
Georgia Tech Home -1 -1 0
Maryland Home -2 -10 -8
Miami Home -11 15 26
NC State Home -7 3 10
Virginia Home -7 3 10
Virginia Tech Home 6 11 5
Total Home -37 44 81
Average Home -4.11 4.89 9.00
Boston College Away -6 -3 3
Clemson Away -8 -16 -8
Duke Away -28 -18 10
Florida State Away -3 -14 -11
Georgia Tech Away -7 -20 -13
Maryland Away -11 -26 -15
NC State Away -15 -15 0
North Carolina Away -15 -25 -10
Virginia Tech Away -5 -1 4
Total Away -98 -138 -40
Average Away -10.89 -15.33 -4.44

To further quantify our road woes this season I took a look at the 7 ACC teams who we played against both at home and on the road. According to KenPom our average expected home outcome was a 2.71 point loss. What actually happened was that we outscored our opponents by 3.71 points per game, or a jaw dropping 237% increase. Our average expected road outcome was a 10.71 point loss, which is depressing enough. The actual outcomes were even worse as our average actual turnout was a 13.86 point loss, or a 29% decrease. That is a difference of a whopping 17.57 points per series. Furthermore, the average expected difference of those 7 series was an 8 point difference between home and away games. That's right, on average we were expected to perform 8 points better per series at home, but instead we performed 17.57 points per game better, or an increase of 120%.

Opponent Home Outcome Home Expected Outcome Away Outcome Away Expected Outcome Actual Difference Expected Difference
Boston College 3 3 -3 -6 6 9
Duke -5 -17 -18 -28 13 11
Florida State 25 -1 -14 -3 39 2
Georgia Tech -1 -1 -20 -7 19 6
Maryland -10 -2 -26 -11 16 9
NC State 3 -7 -15 -15 18 8
Virginia Tech 11 6 -1 -5 12 11
Total 26 -19 -97 -75 123 56
Average 3.71 -2.71 -13.86 -10.71 17.57 8

These stats confirm the perception and horrible reality that has been Wake's conference road performance this season.

To be honest, these stats were even more jaw-dropping than I anticipated before beginning this research. Clearly these stats raise a significant amount of questions, and I don't necessarily have answers to those, but I have a theory.

A popular phrase this year has been 'youth.' We've heard countless analysts and play-by-play announcers discuss our 7 freshmen, and sometimes even 9 if they felt like including our walk-ons. And to be fair our team is the 13th youngest team in the country, with an average of .9 years of experience. We are ranked as the 127th best team overall.

But when you look at other teams around us you see teams like Boston College (106 Ken Pom Ranking, 7th youngest), Vanderbilt (92nd Ken Pom Ranking, 24th youngest), Maryland (64th Ken Pom Ranking, 27th youngest), Virginia (21st Ken Pom Ranking, 34th youngest) and Colorado (41st Ken Pom, 37th youngest) among many others, you have to start thinking there's more to what's going on than just youth.

Clearly we've demonstrated that we have talent to play with almost any team in the country, but it's not translating to consistent (i.e. home and road) success. There's something those 5 teams have in common besides youth, and it's one thing we don't have in common with them. I'll leave it up to you all to interpret what the missing ingredient is.