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Road Woes: Ivy League Inhospitality

Cornell is sitting pretty atop the Ivy League right now at 4-0, but there's a pretty good race going on in the rest of the conference. Yale and Pennsylvania are locked together at 2-2 and the rest of the league is only a game back in the run toward the fourth conference tournament spot.

That's tight, yo.

What's really interesting, though, is that road teams are having a tough go of it in the league.  Visitors are 4-8 in conference games this season with the Big Red having secured two of those victories.  That's not so hot. 

This got me thinking about who has played the best or worst at home and on the road.  To answer this, I looked at each team's efficiency margin* for home games compared to road games.  I then plotted them on a graph (a la Luke Winn) to show the differences.

Ready?  Set?  Graph! 


Here's a chart that reflects the actual values:

Brown -6.43 -5.71
Cornell 16.73 -0.62
Dartmouth 3.03 -13.96
Harvard 4.67 2.92
Pennsylvania 12.83 1.98
Princeton 4.15 -14.70
Yale -3.27 -9.00

With the exception of Harvard and Brown (and the Bears aren't really worth excepting given the small difference), nobody in the league has played nearly as well on the road as they have at home.  The gigantic swings for Cornell, Dartmouth, and Princeton are seismic. 

Now, there are some important things that should be noted:

  • The sample size here isn't huge -- only three or four games for every team -- and the schedules aren't exactly balanced through a home-and-home round robin.  There's usually consistency after five games in the data pool, and this is pretty close.
  • I didn't adjust any of the margin values for strength of competition.  I have a life and sometimes I like to experience it.
  • Don't read tangential stuff into this graph, such as, "Syracuse should take care of Cornell because the Big Red are heading to the Carrier Dome." Remember: These are conference-only values.  Be mindful of the scope.

Regardless, it's striking how much more poorly Ivy teams have played on the road this year in-conference compared to their home production.  If Harvard hopes to make a move toward the top of the league, it'll need to continue its even play whether hosting or visiting.

* Here's the quick and dirty on efficiency margin -- it measures the overall strength of a team (how powerful a team's offense is and how stingy its defense is). For example, a team that scores on every single one of its offensive possessions and doesn't ever yield a goal on any its defensive possessions would have an efficiency margin of 100.  A team in the inverse -- never scoring and always yielding -- would have an efficiency margin of  -100.