Irish Illustrated – Making inroads on the road

Since 2006-07, the Notre Dame men’s basketball team has compiled an impressive 42-6 conference record at Purcell Pavilion, including three out of five seasons with an unblemished home slate.

The Irish didn’t lose a conference home game in back-to-back seasons (2006-07 and 2007-08), and then went 9-0 at home in 2010-11 after going 13-5 in the two seasons in between.

Notre Dame’s success at home only accentuated the problems away from Purcell Pavilion in 2008-09 and 2009-10 when the Irish were a combined 5-13 in Big East road games.

By and large, however, Mike Brey’s teams have been quite respectable away from home where sub-.500 records in conference play are the norm. Entering Big East play this week, only five of the 16 teams in the conference have a winning record, and Notre Dame is one of them following victories at Seton Hall and Connecticut.

The Irish are 3-2 away from home in conference play, joining Syracuse (3-1), Georgetown (3-2), Cincinnati (3-2) and Louisville (3-2) as the only Big East teams with winning slates away from home.

Brey began his stint at Notre Dame by winning 10 of his first 16 Big East road games in 2000-01 and 2001-02, and then splitting the next 16 Big East road games over the next two seasons for an 18-14 mark after four years.

The road became a pretty harrowing place for the Irish over the next six seasons as they recorded a dismal 18-33 mark away from Purcell Pavilion from 2004-05 through 2009-10. Meanwhile, Notre Dame went 40-11 at home during the same stretch.

The Irish have rebounded on the road in the Big East the last two years with an 8-6 mark. Notre Dame was 5-4 on the road in the Big East last year with key victories over Pittsburgh and Connecticut.

Brey and the Irish will have a difficult time maintaining their recent success on the road through the final four road trips of the 2011-12 campaign. Notre Dame is just 2-12 in the last 14 trips to the four upcoming venues — West Virginia, Villanova, St. John’s and Georgetown.

Still, a 44-53 mark in conference road games in the 12th season of the Mike Brey regime is quite respectable, especially when you consider that the Irish have had more winning records on the road (six) than they’ve had losing records (five).

That success, coupled with a 12-1 mark in their last 13 Big East home games, allowed the Irish to finish second in the conference last year while currently placing them in a tie for third place this season.

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