It’s no secret that the Big Ten is one of the most brutal conferences to play in. Whether it be football or basketball there always seems to be that under dog that surprises everyone at home against the top ranked team in the conference.

 

In this post I’m going to lay out the toughest places to play in the Big Ten.  I’ll state that the numbers that I’ve found could be a tad bit off but are none the less accurate and are from the recent past (starting at 2004 or even later). However, the teams overall history and home court advantage/presence was taken into thought when writing this post.  Without further ado here’s my list of the Big Ten toughest places to play!

1.  Wisconsin. 

The Badgers hold a modest 85-35 conference record dating back from 2004 to the present.  The only other team to match that many wins in the same time is Ohio State.  I’ve been to a game inside the Kohl Center and the noise level is crazy! What’s even more impressive about the game I attended in Wisconsin was that there was literally a blizzard going on.  Fans still showed up to support the Badgers in a close win last season (2010-2011) over the Purdue Boilermakers.  The fans make the home court advantage for the Badgers and they show up game in and game out regardless of weather and lay into the opposing team with heated hatred (but respectful) and support for their home team!

2. Indiana

Indiana has a terrible recent record in the Big Ten (32-56). But, that’s during the Tom Crean and Kelvin Sampson eras.  Which, to say the least, have been overwhelmingly disappointing for IU fans for the past 5 seasons.  However, contrary to the recent past of IU’s basketball program it’s hard to argue that Assembly Hall in Bloomington is one of the toughest, and many could argue the toughest, arenas to play in.  IU has possibly the most loyal fans of any college basketball team out there and they show that every game that’s played in Assembly Hall.   Regardless  of IU’s lack of success recently they play their best and even better than their abilities when they play in Assembly Hall.  That’s why I rank IU so high. 

3. Michigan State

The Spartans boast a very respectable 79-41 conference record in the past seven seasons.  During this time they’ve posted six 20+ win seasons and one at 19 wins.  What Tom Izzo has done at Michigan State is remarkable and when visiting the Breslin Student Events Center you can bet your butt it’s going to be a tough battle! Sparty and his fans bring their all every game and let the opposing team know it.  Earning them the 3rd toughest place to play in the Big Ten!

4. Three way tie between Ohio State, Illinois, and Purdue.  I couldn’t decide on which team really deserves the 4th toughest place to play outright.  I’m leaning more towards Purdue and Ohio State but Illinois sneaks in there with it’s crazy student fan section! 

Ohio State ties Wisconsin with the best conference record since 2004-2005 season with a 85-35 record.  Illinois has a 70-50 and Purdue boasts a humble 63-37 conference record (since 2005-2006).  I’ve been to a couple games in Mackey Arena and I have to say the student section is insane! The atmosphere is awesome and makes the game heck for an opposing fan/team and much more enjoyable for home fans and the team.  I’ve never been able to attend a game at Ohio State or Illinois but I can only imagine how the atmosphere would be inside those arenas. 

If I had to choose a team out of this bunch to hold the #4 spot alone I’d go with Purdue.  For those who didn’t know Purdue has the most Big Ten Titles with 22 and is the ONLY team in the Big Ten to hold winning records against ALL other Big Ten teams. Yes, that takes talent, however, you need some advantage, motivation, and help and the Boilermaker fans give them that edge every game inside Mackey Arena. 

7.  Another tie between Michigan and Minnesota

It’s no doubt that these two schools are incredibly difficult to beat at home. With Michigan’s increasing success and young talent obtaining victories in Crisler Arena (please correct if spelling is off there) will become even more difficult.  But, what makes home court advantage home court advantage? The fans.  These two schools’ fans are incredible and give them a slight advantage every home game.  I’ve ranked these two arenas so low due to the lack of rich rich history.  However, that can change and it wouldn’t surpise me if it does.  I also have Minnesota here because they always seem to be upsetting top of the conference teams at home. Last season (2010-2011) they upset Purdue and the year before Robbie Hummel tore his ACL during this game in Williams Arena aka The Barn.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see more upsets happen in these stadiums in the near future. 

9.  Northwestern and Penn State…..yes another tie.

It’s difficult to distinguish who should be where after a certain point with these rankings as I can personally see either team in any of these ties holding the same spot.  However, neither of these teams have boasted incredible conference records. Especially at home.  Though, Northwestern is unarguably improving and have some special upsets in the recent past and have held many, thought to be, power schools close.  Penn State is on the same page as Northwestern to me.  This could all change with Ed Dechellis and Taylor Battle leaving the program.  Dechellis resigned as Head Coach and Taylor Battle graduated. This could effect fan morale and fan support.  However, that’s the future and not history….which this post is focused on. 

11. Believe it or not another tie!

Iowa and Nebraska.  Iowa is no doubt rebuilding it’s basketball program and has a decent fan base. But, I’m not sold that they have much, if any, home court advantage behind their backs. As for Nebraska this will be their first season in the Big Ten.  They don’t have much experience against Big Ten schools and I’m not convinced that they’ll have much of an advantage at home against many schools in the Big Ten.

That’s all I have for this post. I hope you enjoyed it and I’m more than open to hearing any comments or thoughts!

Thanks for reading everyone

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