A Comprehensive Look at Home-Road Performances in Big Ten Play

Gregory Shamus

Bump: Great stuff - Chris

This endeavor started as a post last year about MSU being really good at the Breslin Center in conference games. Then it morphed into a post about the home records of all Big Ten teams over the same period. Then Professor KJ handed out an additional assignment: figuring out which B1G teams benefit the most from playing at home relative to their records on the road. But much like I did in college, I procrastinated on completing this assignment and totally blew my end of fall semester due date. However, by including a scatterplot at the end of the post for extra credit, I'm hoping Prof. KJ will agree to accept the assignment late.

A note before we get into the numbers: these include all conference games from the 1989-90 season through the 2011-12 season (what I call the "Breslin Era," as it covers the time that Breslin has been open - it's also far enough back that it gives a good sample size from the modern era of the conference). None of the games from this season are included. Also, the win-loss totals do NOT reflect all the vacated games that happened during this time. And there were many (looking at you, Michigan, OSU, and Minnesota).

To recap, here are the home records, which cover 197 games per school:

B1G Home Conference Records Since 1989-90

MSU: 163-34 (.827)
Wisconsin: 148-49 (.751)
Indiana: 148-49 (.751)
Illinois: 144-52 (.735)*
Purdue: 142-55 (.721)
OSU: 135-62 (.685)
Michigan: 128-69 (.650)
Minnesota: 122-75 (.619)
Iowa: 121-76 (.614)
PSU: 76-94 (.447)**
Northwestern: 66-131 (.335)

* Illinois played a game in 2003 against Northwestern at the United Center, which is why they have 1 fewer game than the rest of the schools. I only counted true home games.

**PSU's first season was 1992-93.

Now the road records.

B1G Road Conference Records Since 1989-90

MSU: 101-96 (.513)
Purdue: 91-106 (.462)
OSU: 88-109 (.447)
Illinois: 84-113 (.426)
Indiana: 76-121 (.386)
Michigan: 72-125 (.365)
Wisconsin: 70-127 (.355)
Minnesota: 56-141 (.284)
Iowa: 56-141 (.284)
PSU: 31-139 (.182)
Northwestern: 26-170 (.133)


Second takeaway: some big changes noticeable right away, with Purdue and OSU (middle-tier home records) jumping to the 2 and 3 spots. Wisconsin and Indiana (tied for 2nd for home records) drop a lot.

Now, before we get into the breakdown, since we've got all the home and road records, we might as well put those together for the total conference records of the last 23 seasons, just for fun.

B1G Records Since 1989-90

MSU: 264-130 (.670)
Purdue: 233-161 (.591)
Illinois: 229-165 (.581)
Indiana: 224-170 (.569)
OSU: 223-171 (.566)
Wisconsin: 218-176 (.553)
Michigan: 200-194 (.508)
Minnesota: 178-216 (.452)
Iowa: 177-217 (.449)
PSU: 107-233 (.315)
Northwestern: 92-302 (.234)

Soak that in for a second, Spartan fans. I'll wait.

The Home-Road Disparities

Alright, now we get to the real question: which teams have the biggest disparity between their home and road performances? In other words, which teams rely the most on winning their home games?

First, here are the raw win totals for each team at home and on the road, ranked in order of difference between those totals:


Right off the bat, Wisconsin and Indiana jump out as the teams with the biggest difference in home and road records. Both do exceedingly well at home (winning over 75% of their games), but both are mediocre to poor on the road, with Indiana being only slightly better (.386 to .355 winning percentage).

Along with those 2, Minnesota and Iowa receive the biggest "home bump" over the road. Granted, neither team is particularly good at home (winning less than 62% of all home games), but both are equally dreadful away from home, resulting in the big difference.

Interestingly, outside of Northwestern and PSU (honestly, I could have just left them off the list because they are clearly the outliers of the conference in terms of how bad they've been historically speaking), the teams with the smallest disparities are Purdue and OSU. Both are good-not-great at home, but both have been quite good on the road to make up that difference.

Moving beyond the raw win totals, another way of looking at this is the percentage of total conference wins that come from home wins.


These numbers go more directly to the "most reliant on home wins" question. Not surprisingly, Northwestern and PSU top this list. They simply don't win much at all, but when they do, it's going to be at home over 70% of the time. Of the remaining teams, the same group of Minnesota-Iowa-Wisconsin-Indiana lead the way as the teams that get the most wins at home relative to the road. Likewise, Purdue and OSU are again the teams that get the lowest portion of wins at home. Finally, the middle tier is again MSU, Illinois, and Michigan (though MSU is actually closer to the Purdue-OSU level).

After going through all this, my single biggest takeaway is how absolutely impressive MSU's record is over this amount of time. Not only has MSU compiled the best home record of every team, they've done so while also being the best road team. So despite having 15 more home wins than any other team, they've won so many road games that the difference only places the Spartans in the middle tier for home vs road wins. Just incredible.

Extra Credit: Scatterplot!

And finally, in scatterplot form, here is a look at the home vs road winning percentages for each team.


Yes, those Spartans play good ball.

This is a FanPost, written by a member of the TOC community. It does not represent the official positions of The Only Colors, Inc.--largely because we have no official positions.

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