How Rutgers, Seton Hall basketball stack up on the road

·3 min read

Steve Pikiell has described playing on the road as “most difficult thing to do in college basketball.”

Rutgers’ head coach repeats a version of that mantra after just about every trip.

“When you go on the road, you’ve got to play great,” he said following Tuesday’s loss at Penn State. “You can’t just play OK.”

Over the past couple of weeks, Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard repeatedly warned about this week’s two-game road swing, calling it “real tough” even though the first opponent was last-place DePaul. He was right; the Blue Demons tripped his Pirates Thursday in Chicago.

They’re not the only ones who view road games like mountain climbs. The NCAA’s NET ranking, which helps determine who makes the postseason, places extra weight on road victories.

Such resume-builders are on the table Saturday. No. 20 Seton Hall (11-4 overall, 2-3 Big East) looks to improve on a 2-2 road record at Marquette (11-6, 3-3) at noon (Fox Sports 1). Rutgers (9-6 overall, 3-2 Big Ten) takes an 0-5 road record into Maryland (9-7, 1-4) at 2 p.m. (Big Ten Network).

Just how hard is it to win road games? Below are some charts that tell the story.

Dec 12, 2021; Newark, New Jersey, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights forward Ron Harper Jr. (24) dribbles against Seton Hall Pirates forward Alexis Yetna (10) in the second half at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 12, 2021; Newark, New Jersey, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights forward Ron Harper Jr. (24) dribbles against Seton Hall Pirates forward Alexis Yetna (10) in the second half at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Big East teams’ road records

Since the league realigned in 2013. Connecticut’s mark includes its time in the American Athletic Conference.

Villanova 69-27 (.719)

Providence 42-44 (.488)

Xavier 43-46 (.483)

Creighton 44-51 (.463)

Seton Hall 42-53 (.442)

Butler 36-52 (.409)

Marquette 36-53 (.406)

UConn 35-52 (.402)

Georgetown 29-54 (.349)

St. John’s 24-61 (.282)

DePaul 25-70 (.263)

Big Ten teams’ road records

Since Rutgers and Maryland joined the conference in 2014.

Michigan State 45-31 (.592)

Wisconsin 46-38 (.548)

Purdue 39-38 (.506)

Maryland 36-39 (.480)

Ohio State 35-40 (.467)

Michigan 33-43 (.434)

Iowa 32-46 (.410)

Illinois 27-53 (.338)

Penn State (27-55, .329)

Indiana 22-54 (.290)

Northwestern 22-57 (.279)

Minnesota 17-61 (.228)

Rutgers 15-68 (.181)

Nebraska 14-72 (.163)

Takeaways

Obviously much of this has to do with the quality of the program. Struggling teams are going to take it on the chin on the road more often than not.

While these are overall road records, the Big Ten is known for its crazed campus environments and that could be why seven of its 14 teams are under .340. The Big East, by contrast, has just two teams under .340.

It’s interesting that the team with the weakest home court in the Big Ten, Penn State, is notably better on the road than some programs of comparable success like Rutgers, Nebraska and Minnesota. This plays into the RAC-is-a-drug theory — some programs become overly dependent on their intense home-court edge.

Beyond Villanova, whose road record is incredible by any measure, the Big East features more road parity, with eight of the 11 teams over .400. One factor could be the Big East’s concerted effort to schedule well out of conference, which likely toughens teams up for traveling during the league gauntlet.

In Big Ten games only, Rutgers is 10-57 on the road since joining. That includes last year’s 4-6 mark with no fans (so, 6-51 with fans). It should be noted that the Scarlet Knights travel farther for their games than anyone else aside from Maryland, whose mileage is comparable.

In Big East games only, Seton Hall is 34-43 on the road since the 2013 realignment. The Pirates own a total road record of 16-13 since 2019, behind only Villanova (17-10) and Creighton (15-10) during that span.

Willard has credited his team's experience level. In recent years his rotations are dominated by upperclassmen.

"It helps that we have older guys," he said.

That will be tested in Milwaukee Saturday.

Jerry Carino has covered the New Jersey sports scene since 1996 and the college basketball beat since 2003. He is an Associated Press Top 25 voter. Contact him at jcarino@gannettnj.com.

This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: How Rutgers, Seton Hall basketball stack up on the road

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