In the current issue of Chance, statistician Hal S. Stern of Iowa State University in Ames takes a look at what sort of simple information may be helpful for identifying winning teams, though not necessarily for making bets that beat the spread (or odds).
"The question of primary interest is what proportion of game outcomes could be correctly predicted by an intelligent observer," Stern
focuses mainly on U.S. professional sports, though the analysis can be easily applied to other sports, as long as the right sorts of data are available.
One simple prediction rule is to pick that team that plays at home."This rule ought not to predict very well because it completely ignores the relative ability of the teams that are competing," Stern remarks.
Nonetheless, the evidence supports the existence of a home-field advantage (see table), especially in basketball.Moreover, the home-field advantage for college sports appears to be slightly larger than for professional sports, Stern
, Hal S.
1997.How accurately can sports outcomes be predicted?Chance 10(No.4):19-23.