A standard trope when talking about the Big Ten basketball is how hard it is to win on the road. The reason why commentators say it so often is because it is true. When a team at the top of the conference standings manages to eke out a win on the road at a bottom-feeder, it is considered a great success. The main reason that a lot of people left Wisconsin for dead after their two early home losses is that they know how hard it is to pick up road wins. Michigan's win over Purdue Wednesday night was big because a conference road win over a middle of the pack team is considered a major accomplishment.
I rooted around on statsheet.com for awhile and found out some things about home court advantage in the Big Ten. I haven't used a Q and A format before, so that seems like something worth trying.
Q: How hard is it to win on the road in the Big Ten this season compared to others?
Short A: About the same.
Long A: Let's start with this year's stats (through Jan. 27):
Home team record in conference play: 32-17 (.653)
Away team record in conference play: 17-31 (.347)
Click on for the rest of this answer and some more Q and As.
Let's take a look at home team records for the past few years in conference play:
As you can see, the current .653 home team win % is almost exactly what the average over the past six seasons has been.
Q: Is it harder to win on the road in the Big Ten compared to other conferences?
Short A: Not really.
Long A: The following table shows the home records for selected conferences over the past three full seasons.
As you can see, it is hard to win on the road in any conference. The Big Ten sits in the middle of the pack of these conferences, and the larger conferences (other than the Big East) tend to do a better job protecting home court than the smaller conferences (other than the Missouri Valley).
Q: Are there any home/away record oddities for teams in the Big Ten this season?
Short A: Yes.
Long A: I am glad that I asked this question. Teams normally win more games at home than away. Good teams win most, if not all, of their home games and steal some on the road. Bad teams normally win a few games at home during the season, but are lucky to get one on the road. Let's take a look at two teams that aren't following that trend.
Iowa: 3-5 overall, 1-3 at home, 2-2 on the road
The Hawkeyes are 3-5 in the Big Ten so far, which is pretty good considering how they looked in the non-con. After losing at home to Purdue, they beat Wisconsin and Minnesota on the road. Since then they have lost to OSU and Nebraska at home and Purdue and MSU on the road. Their lone win was at home against Michigan. The strangest results were the win at Wisconsin and the home loss to Nebraska.
Wisconsin: 6-3 overall, 3-2 at home, 3-1 on the road
Wisconsin's home loss to Iowa was a shock and it was followed by another one, this time to MSU. Since Bo Ryan's teams normally rely on a near-perfect record in the Kohl Center to keep them in the conference hunt, this was not a good sign. The Badgers went on to prove that they were a decent team with wins at Illinois' Assembly Hall and Mackey Arena.
Q: Can you think of anymore questions to answer about home and away games at this time?
Short A: None that would be easy to research.
Long A: If anybody else has a question about home and away games, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll try to answer it. If anyone has some information that might be considered interesting about this topic, please leave it in the comments as well.