Indiana’s win on Sunday was so impressive it allowed the Hoosiers to remain number one in the AP poll after losing at an unranked team three days earlier. Yes, they had a little help with three other members of the top five falling during the same week, but it was still a big, big win.
As touched on yesterday, you can argue whether winning at Ohio State or beating then number one Michigan, or even Indiana’s victory over current co-Big Ten leader Michigan State was their most impressive or important win of the season. There’s no denying it’s the Hoosiers best road win.
But where does it rank amongst the best road wins league-wide? Welcome to this week’s edition of Rake’s Rankings.
First, some general information about life away from home this year in the B1G. Road teams are a combined 27-39 through this weekend’s games. Indiana has the best road record in the league at 5-1, and not surprisingly, the team they’re tied with atop the standings has the next best record. Michigan State is 4-2. Ohio State and Wisconsin are the only other teams above .500 in league action, both sporting 3-2 marks.
Only Penn State is without a road win, at 0-5. Then again, they don’t have a win in games played at any location on days that end in ‘y,’ as they’re 0-11.
So, in descending order to allow the drama to build, the five most impressive road wins in Big Ten play this season:
5. MICHIGAN DEF. MINNESOTA 83-75 JANUARY 17TH
At the time, the Gophers were ranked ninth in the country. The Wolverines were on the heels of their first loss of the season, at Ohio State. Minnesota had last played Indiana five days earlier. While the Gophers had lost the game, they had nearly made up a 23-point first half deficit, and had to feel good about returning to the Barn for their second straight game against a top five team.
Tim Hardaway Jr.’s skills that night were not ugly, but were most certainly deadly. He’d miss just one shot, pumping in a game-high 21. The Wolverines won despite Trey Burke’s 5-15 night from the floor, and getting outrebounded by eight on the road.
Since that time, Michigan has lost two other road games at Indiana and Wisconsin, but the Golden Gophers have gone into free fall mode. Minnesota has won just twice since that time, and the Michigan loss was the second of a four-game skid. They’re still an NCAA tournament team, but their title hopes have gone bye-bye.
4. ILLINOIS DEF. MINNESOTA 57-53 FEBRUARY 10TH
Illinois backed up their potential season-saving win against Indiana by picking up the road win at Williams Arena. For the second time on this list, the Gophers were shot down in their own building. The Illini went 11-23 from deep, making just seven baskets inside the arc for the game. Minnesota lost despite outboarding Illinois by 13.
The momentum from Griffey’s last second lay-in against the Hoosiers carried over to Sunday, sparking him to score 16 points to pace Illinois. The Illini now can think NCAA tournament again. Now its just about avoiding any more embarrassing losses for John Groce’s squad and they should make the field of 68.
3. MICHIGAN STATE DEF. WISCONSIN 49-47 JANUARY 22ND
There are no two teams more similar in the Big Ten than these two. They could not care how ugly it might look on TV or on paper, it’s all about getting the win by any means necessary. Sparty went to Bucky’s house and out-Wisconsined the Badgers. No Wisconsin starter made 50 percent of their field goals for the game.
The Spartans had the most physical presence on the floor, Gary’s Branden Dawson, who finished the game with 18 points and 13 rebounds. And you know you’re tough when you can not make a field goal in the final 6:56 and still win the game. Then again, Michigan State didn’t allow a field goal during that stretch of time until there were 17 seconds remaining in the game.
The win looks even more impressive with the struggles that Michigan had in winning there this past Saturday. It should also make Hoosier fans happy that a trip to Madison isn’t on the schedule this season.
2. WISCONSIN DEF. INDIANA 64-59 JANUARY 15TH
Many of us (okay, me) didn’t think that Indiana would lose at Assembly Hall this season. I knew they wouldn’t get through the road schedule unscathed, and that has now played out as well. Bo Ryan could not care where his team plays the Hoosiers, or Tom Crean for that matter, because they simply have their number. The Hoosiers have now gone over six years since their last win against Wisconsin.
Wisconsin held a team that now has 12 halves of shooting 50 percent of better in Big Ten play to 7-26 from the floor in the second half. And they hit huge shots down the stretch once Indiana finally made a run to close the deficit from double-digits to one with just under five minutes to play.
It was a Wisconsin team that was thought to be down this season. Now, they’re in the thick of the Big Ten race and have two wins over teams once ranked number one this season.
1. INDIANA DEF. OHIO STATE 81-68 FEBRUARY 10TH
Sunday was the day of the road team in the Big Ten. Two of the five games on this list happened two days ago. Michigan and Wisconsin already own losses at Ohio State. Indiana never allowed the Buckeyes to get close in the second half. Ohio State on average allows 59 points per game. Indiana flew past that mark.
The Hoosiers had three players score 20 or more in the game, the first time that had happened in over six years. It was the first road win for Indiana over a top 10 team since a win at Notre Dame in 2000. And knowing what remains on the road for Indiana (Michigan State, Minnesota, and Michigan), it was a game the Hoosiers had to have after dropping Thursday’s game in Champaign. If Indiana can go 2-1 in their final three road games, a number one seed is theirs.
Each week, we’ll update how the Indiana teams stack up 1-10 in D1 hoops…
1. Indiana 21-3, 9-2 Big Ten
2. Butler 20-4, 7-2 A-10
3. Notre Dame 19-5, 7-4 Big East
4. Indiana State 16-8, 9-4 Missouri Valley
5. Valparaiso 19-6, 9-2 Horizon League
6. Purdue 12-12, 5-6 Big Ten
7. Evansville 14-11, 7-6 Missouri Valley
8. Ball State 9-13, 3-7 Mid-American
9. Fort Wayne 10-16, 3-9 Summit League
10. IUPUI 6-20, 1-11 Summit League
The only movement this week was switching Purdue and Valpo. The Crusaders have won three in a row, and are inching closer to hosting the Horizon League tourney at the ARC for the second straight year. Win the regular season league crown, it guarantees them an NIT berth. And that’s certainly not guaranteed to Purdue at this point.