Home court offers many benefits

There’s something to be said about playing at home come playoff time: relaxing in your own bed, not worrying about having “bus legs,” and relaxing in the friendly confines of your own facilities before the game begins.
It’s a great luxury to have, and it certainly will be something the Muskie boys’ basketball and girls’ volleyball teams will use to their advantage next Wednesday (Feb. 15) in the NorWOSSA playoffs.
Although the final standings won’t be determined until after the Muskies host the Dryden Eagles tomorrow in the regular-season finale, the black-and-gold already know they’ll be the home team come playoff time, which gives them a few advantages.
The first, no doubt, is travel time as both the Eagles and Kenora Broncos will have to drive down to Fort Frances for the games while the Muskie players will be relaxed at home the night before without having to worry about any driving conditions.
Plus, since the games will be taking place during the school day, their fellow students, along with family members, will be out in full force to cheer on the black-and-gold, which could be enough to drive any team into a bit of nerves.
But while there are advantages to playing at home, there remains one key question that occurs at every NorWOSSA court sports playoff event no matter where it takes place: how many games will the winning team have to go through?
You see, the regular-season champs get a bye straight to the finals later that afternoon, which means they have to wait around all day through the other semi-finals before they hit the court.
However, even as they wait around, they will have to face a team that already has played earlier in the day, who may be beaten up from a tight semi-final encounter a few hours earlier.
Still, there’s always the danger of a lower-seeded team building momentum thanks to their semi-final win and pulling off the upset in the final, which has happened quite often in sports of late.
Look at the recently-completed NFL season for example. If you had thought that the N.Y. Giants had a chance to make the post-season before December, most people would think you were insane.
However, it’s the Giants who are atop the football world once again after Sunday night’s Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots despite of not having the best of regular seasons.
So what do I think is better for a team? While I understand all of the momentum a team can pick up by virtue of winning a semi-final game and riding that into the final, I would rather be the team which has the bye.
Instead of being worried about having to win an extra game earlier in the day, you can focus your attention on the championship game and also rest up a bit more to prepare yourself for it.
It will be interesting to see where the winning teams next Wednesday will come from in the regular-season standings, along with seeing if having home-court advantage will make any difference in the end.

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