The Vols had a great chance to sweep the four until they blew Saturday's game at Auburn. Still, 3-1 in SEC road games would be fine if the Big Orange hadn't also blown a couple of conference home games. That's why the Vols must hold serve this week against invasions by Georgia (Wednesday) and Vandy (Saturday).
With tough road tests remaining at Ole Miss (Feb. 18), at Kentucky (Feb. 21), at Florida (March 1) and at South Carolina (March 5), Tennessee may not win another away game. If you think that's overly pessimistic, check out this past weekend's SEC results. Not one SEC road team won. NOT ONE.
It is no secret that SEC basketball teams typically win at home and lose on the road. That's why, during my days as a sports writer for The Knoxville Journal, I built this trend into a ratings system I call the Home-Road Factor. It's based on the premise that home wins and road losses are the norm. Thus, the H-R Factor focuses merely on road wins and home losses. Awarding two points for each road win and deducting two for each home loss gives a clearer picture of where each team stands in relation to its divisional foes than traditional standings.
Each SEC team has a Home-Road rating of zero until it wins a road game (moving to Plus-2) or loses a home game (dropping to Minus-2).
Ultimately, the H-R rating is a projection of how many games over/under .500 you will finish if you win your remaining home games and lose your remaining road games. Plus-4 would be four games over .500 or 10-6. Plus-2 would be two games over .500 or 9-7. Conversely, minus-four would be 6-10 and minus-2 would be 7-9. A rating of Zero, of course, means you're on pace to finish 8-8.
A win at Auburn on Saturday would've given Tennessee a Home-Road rating of plus-4, putting the Vols on pace to go 10-6 in SEC play and 19-11 overall. That should be good enough for an NCAA Tournament bid.
By losing at Auburn, Tennessee has a Home-Road rating of plus-2, meaning the Vols are on track to finish 9-7 and 18-12. That puts them on the NCAA bubble with South Carolina, Kentucky and Mississippi State – all of whom have better overall records. Tennessee might get an invitation to The Dance at 18-12 and 9-7 but I wouldn't bet the house on it.
That said, here's a look at the newest SEC Home-Road ratings:
Florida 4-0 home 2-2 road 6-2 total .... PLUS-4
S.Carolina 4-0 home 1-3 road 5-3 total .... PLUS-2
Kentucky 2-2 home 3-1 road 5-3 total .... PLUS-2
Tennessee 2-2 home 3-1 road 5-3 total .... PLUS-2
Vanderbilt 3-2 home 1-3 road 4-5 total .... MINUS-2
Georgia 0-4 home 0-4 road 0-8 total .... MINUS-8
Louisiana St. 4-0 home 3-1 road 7-1 total .... PLUS-6
Miss. State 3-1 home 3-1 road 6-2 total .... PLUS-4
Ole Miss 3-1 home 1-4 road 4-5 total .... ZERO
Auburn 2-2 home 1-3 road 3-5 total .... MINUS-2
Alabama 3-1 home 0-5 road 3-6 total .... MINUS-2
Arkansas 1-3 home 0-4 road 1-7 total .... MINUS-6