No matter if you are playing in Lincoln against Nebraska or up in East Lansing against Michigan State, winning a basketball game on the road in the Big Ten is never easy. While some environments might be tougher than others, teams know when they hit the road in conference play, they are going to get a game from the hosts.
When the Big Ten schedule is released each year, there are some road games on the schedule that almost feel like a loss at first glance on the schedule for Ohio State just because of how tough certain road arenas are to win at. While the Buckeyes might end up winning some of those games, it takes a complete team effort for Ohio State to leave certain settings around the Big Ten with a win.
So what is the toughest road environment in Big Ten basketball? There certainly are plenty of options to choose from. Before the end of the regular season, Ohio State will see a number of road venues that are in the mix for the toughest road environment in the conference.
At the end of the month, the Buckeyes travel to Indiana to take on the Hoosiers. In February, Ohio State has back-to-back road games at Iowa and Purdue before closing out the regular season at Michigan State.
Today’s question: What is the toughest road environment in Big Ten basketball?
We’d love to hear your choices. Either respond to us on Twitter at @Landgrant33 or leave your choice in the comments.
Brett’s answer: Mackey Arena
As tough of a time as the Ohio State football team has had in West Lafayette, the basketball team has had an even tougher time — especially lately. Last season, the Buckeyes fell behind by 20 points to the Boilermakers at Mackey before staging a furious comeback to tie the game, only to lose on a Jaden Ivey three-pointer at the buzzer.
Ohio State has lost five of their last six trips to Purdue, with the only victory being a 64-63 win in 2018. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Buckeyes also lost as a two-seed to Oral Roberts in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament when the whole tourney was held in the state of Indiana because of COVID-19.
So what makes games at Purdue so tough? The Paint Crew are a wild bunch that get extremely vocal to try and support their team. Purdue’s student section is like Duke’s Cameron Crazies, except the fans of the Boilers aren’t nearly as punchable. The noise made by The Paint Crew is amplified by the domed aluminum roof that Mackey Arena has. As a Buckeye fan, I wish we had a basketball arena that helped out the home team in terms of acoustics. Instead Buckeye fans get the sterile, lifeless building that is Value City Arena.
Mackey Arena is exactly the environment you want if you are a Purdue fan, and the environment you loathe if you are a fan of any other team in the Big Ten. At least if the Buckeyes do happen to win a game in West Lafayette, I know that they have a shot at having a really good season because it takes a team effort to leave Mackey Arena with a win.
Meredith’s answer: Assembly Hall
There’s a reason Assembly Hall has such historical significance. It was the site of Bob Knight’s famous chair throw, for example. And it’s an unapologetically vintage venue that seeps with the history of Indiana’s relevance on the hardcourt. So far this season, Assembly Hall is just edging out Purdue’s Mackey Arena when it comes to home attendance (14,898 fans per home game) to lead the Big Ten.
Fitting in all those attendees, with a total capacity of 17,000, means that seats are famously steep. It’s like the basketball version of Kinnick Stadium, where rowdy home fans are literally within reach. It’s pretty defining when it comes to the intimidation factor when, as an opposing team, you’re facing a literal wall of fans rising around you.
In commission for more than half a century, the Hoosiers are an impressive 634-136 all-time at Assembly Hall. Then again, the Big Ten has boasted absolutely terrifying environments for away teams when it’s come to hoops in recent years. On that note, Ohio State last won in Assembly Hall in 2019.
Also, it has to be said, Indiana’s warmups are the best in the conference.