We hear Madison is a nice town.
Cold as hell, but charming — so we’re told.
Unless, that is, you are a fan of, or really have anything at all to do with IU Athletics.
Let this sink in.
If you are an IU football and basketball fan under the age of 20, you’ve never seen EITHER of the programs win a game in Madison, Wisc. Not one game — in what is effectively a generation.
While that is miserable on its own, it is much worse for the older IU crowd.
Because if you are over the age of 45, you no doubt recall that Madison was once a somewhat reliable place to pick up a Big Ten road win in both sports.
So what changed?
The timelines don’t line up perfectly, but you can pretty much distill it down to this:
Two iconic figures left Indiana — Bob Knight and Bill Mallory, and two arrived at Wisconsin — Bo Ryan and Barry Alvarez.
CAMP RAND-HELL STADIUM
IU football’s last win in Madison was a beatdown of historic proportions.
So much so that it might have awoken ghosts from under the frozen tundra — and started a curse.
What Indiana did to Wisconsin during the first 15 minutes on October 6, 2001 was something to behold. Truth be told, most IU fans sat in shocked disbelief, as if they were the victim of a cruel practical joke.
You see, Indiana had a 32-0 lead over the Badgers that day….at the end of the first quarter. And they did it despite possessing the football for only 4 minutes in the period.
An 0-3 Indiana squad recorded 449 rushing yards and was paced by senior running back Levron Williams, who rushed for a career-high 280 yards, and a still difficult to comprehend six touchdowns on only 20 carries. Senior quarterback Antwaan Randle El completed 8 of 13 passes for 182 yards and one score and rushed 14 times for 102 yards.
When the dust settled Indiana had won 63-32. And the revenge in Madison since that game has been swift and angry.
Here are the scores of the last 5 games in Madison since Williams ran wild, and no, these are not typos:
2005: Wisconsin 41, Indiana 24
2007: Wisconsin 33, Indiana 3
2010: Wisconsin 83, Indiana 20
2011: Wisconsin 59, Indiana 7
2013: Wisconsin 51, Indiana 3
That’s an average score of 53 to 11 if you are keeping track at home.
Bloomington has not been much friendlier. Indiana’s last win in the series was in 2002. The resulting 10 game Wisconsin winning streak includes 52-17, 55-20, 62-14, and 45-17 Badger wins at IU.
It is difficult to imagine that Mallory’s troops once had a 5-game winning streak over Wisconsin from 1986 to 1992. But since Alvarez led Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl in 1993, it has been 16-2 Badgers, with six IU head coaches during that span.
And it is even more difficult to comprehend what has happened on the hardwood.
THINGS ARE WORSE OVER AT THE KOHL CENTER
They say misery loves company, and IU finds it just a few blocks across town.
Wisconsin basketball opened the doors to the Kohl Center on January 17, 1998. Eight days later Indiana waltzed in and beat the Badgers 69-59.
Nice new arena. Thanks for the invite little friend.
That 1998 win extended IU’s series lead over Wisconsin to 87-47. Hoosier fans likely thought at the time that their domination of Wisconsin would simply roll on despite the lovely new 17,000 seat facility.
They were sadly mistaken.
Since then the script has been completely flipped. Wisconsin owns a commanding 29-10 series advantage since that 1998 IU win at the Kohl Center.
And much of this reign of terror coincides with the 2001-2015 tenure of former Badger head coach Bo Ryan, who compiled an incredible 24-5 record against the Hoosiers.
Ryan arrived a year after Knight was fired by IU. The legendary IU coach once owned a 31 game winning streak over Wisconsin from 1980 to 1996.
Knight was actually hired by Wisconsin in 1968 to be its head coach, only to withdraw his name after word leaked out. Perhaps he had placed a curse on the Badgers, and then reversed it upon his firing by IU?
Whatever the case, Indiana hasn’t claimed a basketball win in Madison since the Knight era.
While Wisconsin has been a tough out for Indiana over the last two decades irrespective of the venue or the coach, the Kohl Center has been a veritable house of horrors. Since their 1998 win in Madison, Indiana has lost 17 in a row there by an average score of 71-58.
A 58 points per game average no doubt brings to mind one long, slow, methodical Madison death after another.
For some, death at Wisconsin is all they’ve ever known.
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