I’m not sure what it means that, through Tuesday, Big Ten men’s basketball teams were 17-18 at home in conference games.
Are there some soft touches at home, are teams so good that they win on the road more than you would normally expect, or is the home-court advantage simply not as great as we think?
So, I checked out the home records in league play for all 31 Division I leagues that have automatic qualifiers for the NCAA tournament.
Through Tuesday, home teams were 561-393 in conference games. Besides the Big Ten, only the Big East (20-23), Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (13-16), Southland (15-16) and Western Athletic Conference (17-19) had home teams with overall losing records. The MEAC has Howard and South Carolina State, two teams that played at Iowa this season and have a combined overall record of 8-30.
Home teams are 19-9 in the ACC, 24-11 in the Missouri Valley Conference, 14-10 in the Big 12.
In the Big Ten, Nebraska and Northwestern are 0-3 and Penn State is 0-4 at home. Only three teams haven’t lost league games at home, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State.
Localizing this, it means Iowa needs to snap up a road win or two over decent teams if it is to claw its way into NCAA tournament contention, and it’s got to win when it plays at doormats Nebraska and Penn State.
Iowa is at Purdue Sunday, and plays at Minnesota and Wisconsin the following week. None are impossible to win, but all will be hard.
If Hawkeye fans need some reason for optimism, here are good examples:
Minnesota won at Illinois.
Northwestern won at Illinois.
Wisconsin won at Indiana.
Those who think they know how this Iowa season will turn out are kidding themselves.