There’s no place like … the road?
Big Ten road teams won seven of the nine conference games last week.
Wisconsin got the strange week started, knocking off then No. 2 Indiana on Jan. 15 at Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers finished the week with a 67-59 win against Northwestern on Sunday at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
“Maybe we have to flip-flop it this year,” Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said during the Big Ten teleconference Monday. “It’s hard to get home wins. It certainly has been for us.”
The Wildcats are 0-3 in home conference games. But Northwestern has found success on the road. The Wildcats are 2-1 in road Big Ten games, including a 68-54 victory at then-No. 23 Illinois on Thursday. Three teams ranked in last week’s Associated Press poll – Indiana, Minnesota and Illinois – each suffered a home loss last week.
“Generally speaking, road teams have a much harder time,” Carmody said. “(But) some people say ‘you’re focused.’ You don’t have all these people around. ‘Who am I giving my tickets to?’ All those things that can take your attention away from the goal at hand. You become more focused, more single-minded about what you’re trying to do when you are on the road.”
Home teams are just 16-16 in Big Ten games. Penn State is 0-4 in Big Ten games at Bryce Jordan Center.
The Nittany Lions (0-2) and Illinois (0-2) are the only two Big Ten teams without a road conference win. Indiana is 3-0 in Big Ten games away from Assembly Hall.
“We haven’t been very successful in the past winning on road. So it’s big for us to start off 3-0 on the road in the Big Ten,” Indiana sophomore forward Cody Zeller said Sunday.
“It’s always tough whether you are playing the bottom of the league or the top of the league. It’s going to be a tough game. You just have to find a way to come out with the wins.”
Purdue won for the first time on the road Jan. 19, beating Nebraska 65-56.
“You can’t beat yourself,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said of the keys to a road win. “Any time you go into an opponent’s arena where they practice every single day and they play, it’s going to be harder. Just from human nature, with the crowd and the feel that they have. And the referees, there are factors there. Your backs are against the wall before you start the game.
“Especially in the Big Ten, it’s tough to win on the road. The crowds really separate themselves from other leagues across the board when you talk about from top to bottom.
“You have to probably be more patient,” Painter added. “You can’t shoot the ball as quick. You also have to be able to steal some points. You have to be able to get in transition, get some layups, get some offensive rebounds. You have to make your free throws. You have to do that in a regular basketball game, but on the road those things are even more important.”