Playing a lot of games at home is a nice luxury. Most seasons, anyway.
Last year ACC arenas lacked on-site spectators for most games, somewhat blunting that edge. Late in the season Covid restrictions did loosen in some places, allowing a little-noted advantage in home-fan support against teams that were deprived of similar backing earlier in the year.
That was certainly the case when Duke faced UNC. The Blue Devils served as hosts on Feb. 6 in a close defeat in empty Cameron Indoor Stadium. Exactly a month later the Devils lost decisively before 3,263 at the Smith Center, about one-seventh of capacity, before the largest hostile crowd they encountered in 2021.
Now doors are open to fans from season’s start, although facilities like Cameron wisely require proof of vaccination to gain admission.
During the ACC part of the season, teams have little, if any, say in how their schedules are structured. Note that 10 of the 15 squads play an even-handed five of their last 10 games at home.
The nonconference segment of competition is far more susceptible to manipulation.
That’s why most ACC teams enjoy their longest runs of home cooking in the early going. Duke leads the way with six straight early Cameron contests after opening on neutral turf against Kentucky. BC, Florida State, Georgia Tech, NC State and Pitt each play at home five times in a row.
Louisville, UNC and Notre Dame never play more than two consecutive home games, although the Irish enjoy that privilege on five different occasions.
Only Notre Dame and Syracuse play the majority of their first 10 games away from home.
All of this assumes, of course, that there will be no Covid cancellations or shuffles as we witnessed in ’21.
WHERE THE HEART IS
|First 10||Last 10|
|* Three games possible in Charleson (SC) Classic v. out-of-state opponents. ** Two games in Jacksonville (Fl) Classic v. out-of-state opponents.
$ One game in Atlanta in Holiday Hoopsgiving v. out-of-state opponent (LSU).
% Three games possible in Kissimmee (Fl) in ESPN Invitational v. out-of-state opponents.