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Is Marquette Men’s Basketball The Best Home Team In The Country?

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Fiserv Forum has provided a hostile environment for visiting teams, but how do the Golden Eagles compare to the other greats?

Marquette Golden Eagles basketball
Look at that, MUBB is 14-0 at home this season!
Facebook.com/MarquetteMBB

YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles are ranked in the top 10 in the AP Poll for the first time since the 2011-12 season. Marquette’s 19-3 start is their best since they began the 2009-10 campaign 20-2 before picking up their third loss. That’s reason to celebrate. It’s also a great week for Marquette hoops in general as it marks the first time ever that both the men’s and women’s basketball teams are top 10 in the nation. Cheers! *sips Old Fashioned*. It’s truly a great time to be alive as a die hard Marquette fan.

Want to have some more fun?

As you’ve probably noticed, the Golden Eagles have been prrrettttyyy good at home this year. Fiserv Forum has become a death trap for MU opponents as every team that has come to Milwaukee has lost. Yup, Marquette is a perfect 14-0 within the confines of The Forum. If you’re a history buff, the last time they went undefeated at home was the 2012-13 season.

This begs the question: Is Marquette the best home team in the nation this year?

I will answer this two ways. First if you’re data inclined, I have created a chart that outlines the parameters I have set to guide my analysis. In research, we call this quantitative data. If you aren’t a numbers person, scroll past the chart and go to my personal takes on the topic. I have used a qualitative approach here. In laymen’s terms, I have used the data I gathered to come up with my own opinions. Either way, the chart is helpful if you want to understand my reasoning better. I’m also only measuring the home success this year since Fiserv Forum opened up at the beginning of the season.

Okay so here are my parameters:

  1. You must be undefeated at home
  2. You must be ranked in the top 35 in KenPom and BPI
  3. You must be ranked in the AP top 25
  4. You must have an average of 85% home attendance or above

Before I get into my reasoning for this criteria, I highly encourage you all to comment below if you have any alternate/better criteria for determining the best home team in the country. Also, there are only 9 teams that currently fit this criteria. Marquette is at the very least one of the best nine home teams in the nation.

Okay so the first one seems pretty obvious...you can’t be the best home team in the country if you’ve lost at home. Especially when it was to a team we very much find disgusting in Syracuse. Laughing at you, Duke.

KenPom and BPI are very fun statistical analyses that I am very fond of. We use KenPom a lot here at AE and BPI is ESPN’s way of having a stake in the college basketball metrics game. Let’s not forget the preseason BPI poll was very friendly towards Marquette. Then there’s the well known and often infamous AP top 25 Poll. There are 64 media members that vote on who they think are the 25 best teams in the country. Although individual voters can be pretty wacky at times, it’s usually a decent measuring stick for how well your team is doing. I would have included more polls and predictive analyses but that would have taken more time that I don’t have. So I stuck with these three.

Point number 4: you can’t seriously call yourself the best home team in the country if you’re not getting your fans to show up on game day. 85% attendance is the number I stuck with partially because it seems like a reasonable standard for great home crowds and partially because Marquette has been just above that number this season.

Now let me introduce to you the fancy chart I made. It’s important to note that this chart only includes teams that meet all four criteria mentioned above. Too bad for Duke, UNC, Louisville, Texas Tech, and Iowa State for having 1 home loss. Sucks to be Buffalo, LSU, Virginia Tech, and Houston who are undefeated but can’t get more than 85% attendance. Y’all are trying, just not hard enough.

A quick key for the chart: S.S* is the Super Score I created by averaging the KenPom, Associated Press, and Basketball Power Index poll rankings together. As you can see, I have sorted the teams by my Super Score ranking. It doesn’t tell the full story though. HCA is Home Court Advantage which is something KenPom tracks. The score is the calculated by how much better a team performs at home vs on the road. This is an important metric because it gives you an idea on how much a team treasures its home arena. CP is arena capacity. The bigger the arena, the more fans you can get to the game - simple as that. It’s not to say that a team can’t have great HCA in a smaller arena, but in my opinion the more fans the better the environment. In parentheses are the national ranks for HCA and CP for each team. Okay, now behold the chart.

Best Home Teams in the Country

Team Name S.S* KP AP BPI HCA CP
Team Name S.S* KP AP BPI HCA CP
Virginia 2.5 #1 #3 #1 3.4 (111th) 14,623 (36th)
Gonzaga 3.67 #4 #4 #3 2.9 (225th) 6,000 (195th)
Tennessee 4 #6 #1 #5 3.6 (64th) 21,678 (5th)
Michigan State 4.33 #3 #6 #4 3.4 (103rd) 14,759 (32nd)
Michigan 6 #5 #5 #8 3.4 (123rd) 12,721 (46th)
Kentucky 8.33 #8 #7 #9 4.1 (8th) 23,000 (2nd)
Nevada 14.33 #17 #8 #18 3.6 (78th) 11,536 (62nd)
Kansas 14.67 #16 #11 #17 3.8 (43rd) 16,300 (20th)
MARQUETTE 20.33 #25 #10 #26 3.5 (86th) 17,600 (15th)
1/31/19 Besay, Anonymous Eagle

There are a few things I want to point out. First and foremost, the Golden Eagles rank 3rd in capacity and 4th in HCA amongst the teams listed. Also, every team with the exception of Gonzaga has a larger student body than Marquette. Yet, the Golden Eagles are getting more students and general attendance to their games simply because how much larger the Fiserv is than the other arenas. That, combined with Marquette’s 88% average attendance this season makes them a top contender for best home team in the country. The fans play a huge part in team success.

The only two teams that challenge Marquette are Tennessee and Kentucky who have a better HCA and arena capacity than Marquette. I’ve heard Kansas has a great student section but Allen Fieldhouse can’t hold as many fans as Fiserv Forum. Plus Rock Chalk is a pretty lame slogan. I can’t say it without laughing. Speaking of tradition, Marquette’s developed a new one at the Fiserv this year.

Does any arena in the country have a better tradition than the Shake Shack Free Throw Freeze? Opposing teams clearly still haven’t caught on that if they miss two free throws after the 10 minute mark of the second half everyone in attendance gets a free shake at Shake Shack. The crowd has never been louder at the Fiserv than when an opposing player misses their first free throw after the 10 minute mark. And yes, I speak from personal experience. There’s no way this doesn’t distract the free throw shooter. I don’t care how good you are at free throws...if you have 17,000 strong heckling you to miss, good luck pal.

Marquette has beaten #44 Kansas State, #10 Wisconsin, and #18 Buffalo at home this year (rankings according to KenPom). That’s two Q1 wins and a Q2 win (though K-State was ranked #12 in the AP poll at the time...). Kentucky has beaten #26 Mississippi State and #16 Kansas at home: both Q1 wins. Tennessee has zero Q1 wins with their best victory coming against #41 Alabama. Their other Q2 win is against #57 Arkansas. Sooooooo, in terms of quality wins at home, Marquette is on par with if not slightly better than both Kentucky and Tennessee. If you’re wondering what Q1 and Q2 mean, it stands for Quadrant 1 and Quadrant 2 wins. Here’s a guide to what that means.

I think Marquette is currently the best home team in the country. They are certainly one of the hottest teams in the country (I see you, Hofstra) reeling off 8 straight wins and a perfect 14-0 record at the Fiserv. Let’s pray that this continues for as long as possible. They face huge tests next week when they get their much needed revenge game at home against St. John’s and then the biggest game of the year on National Marquette Day against #14 Villanova. Buckle your seatbelts, next week is going to be hectic.