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There's no place like home

It's tough to advance when you don't host a regional, which is bad news for non-traditional powers

Originally Published: May 17, 2011
By Jeff Sackmann | ESPN Insider

As we approach the NCAA tournament, there's more than one bubble on which a school can find itself. Every team wants their place in the field of 64, but for the top programs, already virtually guaranteed a tournament bid, the concern is home-field advantage. Will they host a regional? Are they deserving of one of the eight national seeds?

It's easy to downplay these concerns -- if you're the better team, you'll win wherever you play, right? Well, not exactly. Baseball isn't known for its strong home-field advantage -- in the major leagues, the home team wins 53-55 percent of the time -- and in Division I this year, the home team has won 61 percent of all games. In a three-game series between evenly-matched clubs, that's a 65 percent chance of the home team advancing.

Double disadvantage

The tournament selection committee doesn't have the power to pick the teams that head to Omaha, but they can tilt the scales. For instance, last year Florida State snuck past Vanderbilt in the Tallahassee super regional with two one-run wins. There's no doubt FSU was an Omaha-worthy team, but given the rate at which home teams win Division I games, the same series in Nashville could have ended very differently.

The Seminoles deserved their hosting privileges last year. What about the instances when the wrong team gets the honor? It's more than disrespect to a quality team; it's a serious blow to the postseason chances of the jilted school.

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