Commentary

Road wins don't come easy

Updated: February 7, 2013, 11:27 AM ET
By Dick Vitale

I have said it before and I will say it again. It is tough to win on the road in college basketball.

If you don't believe me, here are a few examples to bolster my case.

The most obvious one was Wednesday night in Fort Worth, Texas. Kansas came into its game with TCU as the nation's fifth-ranked team. The Jayhawks came in with a 19-2 record, including a first-place mark of 7-1 in the Big 12.

The Horned Frogs entered the game without a league win, sporting an 0-8 mark. Trent Johnson's team had gone over a month since its last win, a nailbiter against Mississippi Valley State.

So what happened? Kansas missed 19 of its 22 shots from the field in the first half. The outside shooting was ice cold, going three-of-22 from beyond the arc. It was upset city, baby, arguably the biggest stunner of the season. TCU got to the winner's circle, 62-55. The Horned Frogs missed 16 free throws and still found a way to win.

Bill Self has to be concerned with his offense. Rock, chalk has been held below 70 points in seven of its last eight games.

Let's move to exhibit two.

In the Missouri Valley Conference, one of the most underrated leagues in America, Wichita State was expected to win easily at Southern Illinois. The Shockers came in at 19-4. The Salukis were 8-14, 1-10 in the MVC. My friends, Wichita State was shocked.

Finally, exhibit number three. Florida at Arkansas.

The Gators came in with a 10-game win streak and an 18-2 overall mark. During that run, Florida's closest game was a 14-point decision. Billy Donovan's team was playing as well as anybody in America, moving up to number two in the rankings.

Well, it was blowout city for the host Razorbacks. Arkansas came out and went for the jugular.

As I said, it is not easy to win on the road. The host school has a major advantage with the fans going wild, trying to help their team raise their level of play. The adrenaline is flowing, and it has to give a lift.

The road team doesn't have the familiarity of the court, the shooting background, and there is an adjustment to the hostile environment.

Let's also face facts. These are college kids, 18-22, who do have a big game here and there. That is why this season is intriguing; the parity as we head into March Madness is appealing.

There are a lot of good teams out there, just not a lot of great ones. On any given night, you will see a surprising score.

Then again, Kansas losing at TCU is more than surprising. Proof that it is difficult to win away from the friendly confines of home.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.