The Iowa Hawkeyes gave the #13 Wisconsin Badgers all they could handle in forty minutes of play on Wednesday. It wasn’t until overtime that the Badgers (18-5, 8-3) pulled ahead for a 62-59 win over the improving Hawkeyes (10-14, 3-9).
While the Badgers have been untouchable at the Kohl Center, the road has been an entirely different story in 2010-11.
By: Nick Grays
True road wins are hard to come by when playing in one of college basketball’s power conferences. The Badgers are very aware of this as their hard-fought win at Iowa marked only their third true road win in seven tries.
Wisconsin’s four losses on the road are against UNLV, Illinois, Michigan State and Penn State. Luckily for the Badgers, none of these losses are necessarily bad losses with the exception of Penn State depending on where they finish the season.
Their wins are against Marquette, Northwestern and Iowa; all teams who most likely won’t be dancing come March.
So why hasn’t there been more attention surrounding the Badgers mediocrity on the road?
Well maybe it’s the fact that the Badgers have dominated opponents by almost twenty points a contest in their 13 wins at home. Four of the six Big Ten games played at the Kohl Center have resulted in double-digit wins for the Badgers.
This begs the question, why do the Badgers play so well at home and struggle on the road?
In previous seasons, I would have ranted on about how the Kohl Center and the fans can’t be the confounding factor, but maybe they are this season.
Away from home in 2010-11, the Badgers seem to be far more inconsistent on offense. The first half of the Iowa game was a perfect example as they shot an ugly 6-for-33 (.182). Granted, the Badgers usually scrap to end up in their usual 60-70 point range, they still struggle with scoring droughts on the road.
This could also provide a hint to why the Badgers enter NCAA tournaments with higher seeds, but offensively struggle to hang with some of the best teams in the country.
There’s also the theory that the best defensive teams in the country (Badgers have been in top 10 in six of the last eight years) are almost impossible to beat at home. I like to stick to this theory because it almost always makes sense.
This season, Wisconsin ranks third in the country while allowing just 56.2 points per game. They have also held 14 of their 21 opponents under 60 points.
Regardless of what the reason is behind the success at home, the Badgers need to improve their game on the road if they want to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
In the next month or so, the Badgers will visit Purdue, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio State. If Wisconsin is for real, they should be able to win three of the four or at the very least earn a split.
Nick Grays is a senior editor at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers, Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Brewers. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.Follow paulmbanks