Friday, January 18, 2013

Beating No. 2 on the Road—An Investigation

Wisconsin's win over Indiana in Bloomington the other night was one of the greatest wins in program history. Never before had the Badgers beaten a team ranked as high as No. 2 on the road. Offhand, I can think of only three definitively better wins: the two wins over OSU when they were ranked No. 1 (in 1962 and 2011) and the win over Purdue to advance to the Final Four in 2000.

But it is also one of the great wins for any program over the last several years. Teams ranked as high as No. 2 in the AP poll almost never lose at home. Indeed, according to my research, the AP No. 2 was 188-5 at home over the six seasons between 2006-07 and 2011-12. The five losses were:

12/2/2007 — #8 Texas* beat UCLA
12/29/2008 — #11 Georgetown beat UCONN
2/14/2010 — Louisville (unranked) beat Syracuse
1/22/2011 — #10 Texas beat Kansas
1/24/2011 — #15 Notre Dame beat Pitt

[*This Texas team, which eventually lost in the Elite 8, lost in Austin a few weeks later to Michael Flowers and the Wisconsin Badgers. It was the Longhorns' only home loss that year.]

Although No. 2 lost at home only five times in the six years I looked at, it also happened twice in three days in January 2011. Gotta love sports.

Over the same six seasons, the AP No. 1 team lost at home just four times:

2/23/2008 — #2 Tennessee beat Memphis
1/4/2009 — Boston College (unranked) beat North Carolina
1/21/2009 — Virginia Tech (unranked) beat Wake Forest
2/16/2009 — #4 Pitt beat UCONN (in Hartford, so not true home)

Again, although it happened only four times total, it also happened three times in six weeks during the 2008-09 season. Gotta love sports.

Overall, teams ranked in the AP top two lost at home just nine times over the previous six seasons.

Make it ten.


  1. Note: No. 6 Syracuse beat No. 1 Louisville on the road yesterday—the first time No. 1 has lost at home since 2009.

  2. And now Oklahoma State beats #2 Kansas at Phog Allen. They come in bunches.