Duke vs UNC: Who has the Better Home Court Advantage

In my previous article, I explored the advantages of having home court in teams, players, and stat categories in the NBA. However, what I also found is that home court advantage has a more consequential difference in college basketball, at least for the 2019-20 season. Similar to the NBA, all home court advantages in college basketball are not made balanced. Some colleges have greater home court advantages for a variety of reasons, such as play style and even crowd noise.

Duke has regularly been one of the best college basketball programs in the history of the sport itself. They have won five national titles ever since Coach K took over in 1980. Under Coach K, Duke has won 5 championships, gone to 12 final fours, and captured 15 ACC tournament championships, among other trophies and accolades. Due to their ongoing success, Duke reels in some of the best prospects each years, continually ranking in the top 3 of high school recruiting classes. Players like Zion Williamson, Kyrie Irving, and Jayson Tatum are just a few of the five star recruits that have risen to stardom at both Duke University and the NBA. Even before the one and done era, Duke had noteworthy players like Christian Laettner, Grant Hill, and Shane Battier.

But Duke isn’t the only great college basketball team. Other colleges like Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA, and Duke’s hated rival North Carolina have also had sustained greatness is the history of college basketball. These four colleges, along with Duke, make up the current blue bloods of college basketball (although UCLA has declined in recent years). However, both Duke and North Carolina have something special that no other college basketball team has: the greatest college basketball rivalry of all time. The Duke-UNC rivalry may even be the best in all of sports, as the games between the two blue bloods often are between two of the top teams in college basketball. There are always great games, like the 1995 double overtime game or even the game this year where Duke won on a buzzer beater. I want to investigate a part of this rivalry that is not often discussed: Does Duke or UNC have a better home court advantage.

The way that I found which team had a better home court advantage was by taking all of the home games and all of the away games for both teams from the past ten years and comparing the results. In the past ten years, Duke has had a home win-loss record of 153-13 (0.922 win%) with an average margin of victory of 19.9 points. On the other hand, the past ten Duke basketball teams have had an away win-loss record of 61-37 (0.622 win%) with a margin of victory at 4.9 points on average. In comparison, North Carolina had a home win-loss record of 135-25 (0.844 win%) and an away win-loss record of 67-45 (0.598 win%), compared to a home margin of victory at 14.5 and an away margin of victory at 3.6.

After conducting hypothesis tests on both the win percentage difference and margin of victory difference between home games and away games, I found the p-values of each team’s results. A smaller p-value means that there is more statistical evidence, and since all the p-values were so abnormally low, both teams have an obvious difference between home performance and road performance. However, the results showed that Duke had more statistically significant results for win percentage difference and margin of victory by large amounts, meaning that Duke has a more significant home court advantage. It seems that the Cameron Crazies and the effect of Duke playing at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham has a greater effect than North Carolina playing in Chapel Hill. Home court advantage is one component of basketball where Duke holds the edge over North Carolina in the past ten years of the greatest college basketball rivalry of all time.

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