Coming off the season-opening 70-65 victory at Nebraska, I got to thinking about what it would mean to go to East Lansing on Monday and come away with a second consecutive road victory to open the Big Ten.
In a phrase, it would be huge.
How big? Chew on these numbers for a minute.
Since 1994, a span of 21 seasons, IU has opened the Big Ten with consecutive road victories a total of three times. The Hoosiers did it once in that span under Mike Davis, once under Kelvin Sampson and once under Tom Crean.
That’s it. Three times in 21 years.
But when you look even deeper at the numbers, some interesting facts emerge.
In the 28 years dating back to and including the 1987 IU national championship team, Indiana has opened the season with at least two road victories in a row eight times. The years: 1987, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 2002, 2008 and 2013.
To say that winning your first two conference games on the road has equated to a great deal of future success would be a major understatement.
In each of those eight seasons that IU has won at least its first two Big Ten road games, the Hoosiers have won a minimum of 25 games per season. In six of those eight seasons, IU claimed at least a co-Big Ten championship and in one of the two years it didn’t (1992) it made the Final Four.
Here’s a closer look at that success. Here are the last eight times that Indiana has opened the season with at least two consecutive Big Ten road victories and how IU has fared that season:
2013: 29-7 overall, 14-4 Big Ten, Big Ten champs, Sweet Sixteen
2008: 25-8 overall, 14-4 Big Ten, First round NCAA
2002: 25-12 overall, 11-5 Big Ten, Big Ten co-champs, National runner-up
1993: 31-4 overall, 17-1 Big Ten, Big Ten champs, Regional finalist
1992: 27-7 overall, 14-4 Big Ten, Final Four
1991: 29-5 overall, 15-3 Big Ten, co-Big Ten champs, Sweet Sixteen
1989: 27-8 overall, 15-3 Big Ten, Big Ten champs, Sweet Sixteen
1987: 30-4 overall, 15-3 Big Ten, Big Ten co-champs, National Champions
I’m not suggesting that if Indiana beats Michigan State Monday night that the Hoosiers are in some way a title contender. I’m not saying that Indiana will go on to win 25 games or more. I’m not saying that it would mean that Indiana would have a team that would go deep into the NCAA Tournament.
I'm not trying put that kind of pressure on a young Indiana team.
All I’m saying is that recent history would indicate that if you can open the Big Ten season with back-to-back road victories it simply provides you with the kind of start that gives you a chance to be very successful moving forward.
Indiana’s victory over Nebraska was a good start. But it was just one game out of 18 in conference play. Now we’ll sit back and see what the Hoosiers are able to accomplish Monday night against a Michigan State team that is 0-1 in the Big Ten and has already dropped a game at home in conference play.Analysis: A big first B1G victory
Five Things: IU 70, Nebraska 65