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Why Is It So Darn Hard to Win a B1G Road Game?

So far in conference play, the road team wins less than a third of the time.

Marquette v Purdue Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

We’ve all heard of home-court advantage, right? Well this year in B1G games, the advantage is larger than years past by far. Let’s dive into the stats:

B1G Home Records in conference games:
2021-22: 83-57 (59.3%)
2022-23: 91-48 (65.5%)
2023-24: 45-19 (70.3%)

Clearly the home records of teams are trending up. It’s obviously difficult to win on the road but why is it getting harder? Obviously, the schedules are grueling for student athletes, so it could simply be that playing in road games is inherently more difficult. It is even more difficult to beat the top teams in the Big Ten, which is obvious. But the home record of the top 4 B1G teams this season is absurd.

B1G Home Record of Top-4 Teams in conference games:
2021-22: 32-8 (80.0%)
2022-23: 29-10 (74.4%)
2023-24: 18-1 (94.7%)

So, you have roughly a 5% chance at beating a Top-4 Big Ten team on the road. Good luck with that. If this trend continues, the top-4 teams will only lose 2-3 games in Big Ten play. You could say that the top teams haven’t played many of the top half teams yet. The graph below shows that’s not really the case. Wisconsin has beaten Northwestern, Nebraska, and Indiana at home, Purdue has beaten Illinois at home, Illinois has beaten Northwestern and Indiana at home, and Northwestern has beaten Purdue, Illinois and Maryland at home. That accounts for 9 of the 18 home wins of the top 4.

Some other interesting tidbits :

  • Nebraska is on pace to go undefeated at home but winless on the road in Big Ten play.
  • Wisconsin will avoid 3 of the 4 teams directly below them. They only will travel to Purdue.
  • Over the previous 2 seasons, only 2 teams had a worse home record than road record (Wisconsin and Nebraska in 2021). So far this season, Iowa and Michigan are the only teams with a worse home record than road record, but they have played different amounts of home and road games.

Altogether, there is no sure reason why road games are so difficult this year. Whether it’s the incredible student sections, the game ball, or just the change in routines, it is clear that the home team has the advantage so far. Luckily, everyone gets to play 10 home and 10 road games so the best teams should rise to the top.