A lot of college basketball handicappers tend to think of home court advantage as being relatively static – it will be basically be the same from game to game in the same building. That’s not always the case. There are several different circumstances in which even the most supportive and vocal of crowds can elevate their noise and enthusiasm to a higher level. That can have a big impact both on the excitement their players play with and on the way the officials call the game. Here are six situations for the college basketball handicapper to consider in which the crowd could be more of a factor than expected:
Big football recruiting weekend – If a school has a strong football program along with a strong basketball program then the fans will be very aware of what is going on in recruiting. That means that they will know if big name recruits are on campus, and they’ll be able to recognize those recruits. If it’s a big recruiting weekend – like a junior day or a big weekend for official visits, for example – then the crowd will be fired up and looking to make sure the football recruits know that they are in a good place and that they are welcome. That can add an extra layer of energy to a crowd that could already be excited about the basketball game.
Rare weekend night game – A lot of college basketball programs are used to playing their weekend games on the afternoon. If they were to play an evening game on the weekend it would be for a big reason – a special celebration, national prime time coverage, and so on. When a school doesn’t typically play evening games then there is a very good chance that there will be extra energy and enthusiasm around the night game they do play. On a practical matter, the night game means that the students in the student section have had more time to drink, party, and get ready to really be obnoxious.
National media presence – When there is extra media presence at a game the players will know it and the fans will know it. If that media presence is relatively rare and relatively significant – like if ESPN is hosting coverage from the game, for example – then that will have the effect of adding energy and excitement to the game.
Popular opponent, important game – Fans will fire up their level of energy and support – both in terms of noise and perhaps in terms of attendance if that can be an issue at the school – if the game is particularly important. It could be that they are hosting a hated rival that fans really don’t like. Or it could be that they are playing a game that is particularly significant – they can clinch a conference championship, for example.
Senior night – The last home game of the season is typically senior night. On that night the basketball team celebrates the senior players who are graduating from the school. There family is there and it can be quite an emotional ceremony. At some programs and in some years that’s not a big issue. Sometimes, though, senior night can be a big deal. If the senior is a star player who has stuck around for four years then the fans will be very fired up. They’ll also be excited if it is a player who has become very popular to the fans – for his style of play, his leadership, his toughness, or whatever else. The ceremonies often happen before the games, so that can lead to an extra level of energy and enthusiasm at the start of the game, and that can carry over throughout the game – especially if one of those popular seniors has a particularly strong showing in the game.
Celebration of alumni – College basketball teams love celebrating their tradition. That means that they will often find reasons to have old heroes return for games. They could be honoring the jerseys, or celebrating the anniversary of a championship or of a milestone reached by a star player. If the star basketball player is big enough then his presence at the game will have the fans whipped into a frenzy, and will have a big impact on the crowd. It doesn’t just have to be a basketball player, either – at a football school the presence of a former football great could have even more of an impact. It’s important here, though, that college basketball handicapper make sure that his presence is a relatively rare and exciting thing. The presence of even the greatest legend won’t have a huge impact of he still lives in the town and frequently attends games. His attendance needs to be a special occasion.