To say Indiana men’s basketball has struggled at the Kohl Center would be underselling it.
Going into Friday’s matchup against Wisconsin, the Hoosiers have lost 19 straight games in Madison. It’s IU’s longest road losing streak against any opponent in program history — more than 100 years.
There aren’t many opponents who even come close to that mark. IU lost 17 straight away games against Michigan State from 1992 through 2012, before finally snapping that slump in 2013. And the Hoosiers dropped 12 straight road games against Purdue in West Lafayette in the early days of the rivalry, from 1908 through 1922.
But 19 consecutive losses is hard to pull off. In fact, Indiana only has 19 or more total losses all-time against 11 teams — the other nine original Big Ten schools, along with Kentucky and Notre Dame.
Indiana won one game at the Kohl Center in 1998, the year the building first opened, and hasn’t won there since. But there have been some agonizingly close calls in recent years.
This is IU’s first trip to Madison since December 2021, in its 2021-22 Big Ten opener. The Hoosiers led that game at halftime, 42-25, only to see it evaporate in the second half. One season prior, in January 2021, the Badgers needed double overtime to keep their streak alive.
Indiana’s overall record against Wisconsin, regardless of location, has not been pretty in recent years. The Hoosiers defeated the Badgers in Bloomington in their lone meeting last season. But even counting that win, IU is 2-8 against UW in the last 10 matchups. Over the last decade, IU is 4-12 against Wisconsin.
Part of this road losing streak has been pure scheduling luck. Three of IU’s six winningest teams since its last win at Kohl Center — the 2001-02 Final Four squad, the 2012-13 group that earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and Trayce Jackson-Davis’ 2022-23 team — didn’t play in Madison. One of the other three — the 2015-16 Big Ten champions — lost in overtime.
But even despite the prolonged Kohl Center woes and Wisconsin’s recent dominance, Indiana has a 98-79 record in the all-time series, with an overall away record of just 40-45 even with the 19 straight losses.
IU’s slump in Madison isn’t the only extended streak of note in this all-time series. The Hoosiers won 31 straight games against the Badgers from 1980 through 1996. Wisconsin snapped its skid in 1997, at home. And then in 1998, IU picked up what still remains its most recent road win over UW.
So what changed?
Well, multiple things.
Obviously, when this road losing streak began in the late ’90s, Bob Knight had only a few years remaining at the helm in Bloomington. And though IU’s had a few successful runs since Knight left, the program hasn’t been able to sustain those periods with much consistency.
But also, Bo Ryan’s arrival in Madison changed everything. The Badgers won the first two games of their streak before hiring Ryan ahead of the 2001-02 season, and his arrival signaled a new era for Wisconsin men’s basketball. He won Big Ten titles in his first two seasons, and a conference tournament championship in year three. The Badgers reached a new level of success under Ryan.
That’s largely continued under Greg Gard, even though Wisconsin ended a run of 19 straight NCAA Tournament berths in his second season.
Now, on Friday night, Mike Woodson’s Hoosiers will hope to end another Badgers streak sitting at 19.