NCAA Profile And Non-Conference Opponents Update

Yesterday was a fun day. Every major publication was producing their mea culpas about writing Purdue off before the season, but now they believe. For the record, I called this months ago. Still, it was nice to see the following:

Purdue’s a Final Four contender, no doubt | Beyond the Arc
Mike Miller at NBC is also on the list of writers seeing us as a Final Four contender.

Weekly Watch: Week 13 - ESPN
Andy Katz also admits he was wrong.

Moore's 38 caps off Purdue's huge week - College Basketball Nation Blog - ESPN
Eamonn Brennan is on board (with credit for citing me as one of those that dissented at the start of the season).

Doubt what's possible with Painter? Never again - CBSSports.com
A mea culpa from Gary Parrish

All that can change if we crap the bed in Bloomington tomorrow night. We have only completed step one: We have successfully made the NCAA Tournament. Our profile has us locked in even if we lose the next five games before the tournament. Those five games can negatively effect or seed, but as of right now our profile has never looked better. Could we still get a coveted #1 seed? It is difficult to say. The only chance we have is by winning out, winning the Big Ten Tournament with a second victory over Ohio State, and getting a little help. Ohio state somehow dropping two games to give us an outright Big Ten title would be nice, but I don't see it happening. I would say we have a 5% chance at a #1 seed, with a two seed looking more likely if we go 4-0 before Indy. Regardless, I am cheering hard for Illinois tonight.

Let's take a look at that profile and what our non-conference opponents are up to:

Purdue Boilermakers

ESPN/USAToday Ranking: 8

AP Poll ranking: 8

CBSSports RPI: 7

ESPN Bracketology Seed: 2 Southwest opening in Chicago (1 seed: Pittsburgh, 3 seed: Florida. 4 seed: North Carolina)

Top 50 RPI wins: 4 Ohio State, 19, Wisconsin, 41 Minnesota, at 40 Illinois, 44 Michigan State

Top 100 RPI wins: at 57 Michigan, at 54 Valparaiso, 60 Penn State, at 60 Penn State, at 67 Virginia Tech, 63 Oakland, 79 Northwestern, 72 Alabama.

Worst loss: 62 Richmond (neutral court)

Remaining games: 40 Illinois, at 44 Michigan State, at 164 Iowa, at 179 Indiana

In just looking at our overall profile we have a number of wins lurking near the top 50 range, but Illinois is still out only top 50 win away from Mackey Arena. Valparaiso was in the top 50 until losing by a point in overtime last night at Green Bay. Michigan has an excellent chance of sneaking into the top 50 if they can beat Wisconsin this week. Since that is a road victory for us, I would cheer for Michigan tomorrow night. Valpo can sneak back in, but their at large profile took a major hit last night. Alabama is the biggest surprise so far.

Howard (6-21, 4-10 MEAC) RPI: 333 - At least the Bisons aren't in last place in the MEAC. They are merely in second to last ahead of Maryland-Eastern Shore. Four of their six wins have come in their last six games, so they have showed a little promise. They have nothing remotely close to a good win.

Alcorn State (3-22, 3-12 SWAC) RPI: 340 - The Braves have seen their RPI fall to horrible levels. Only South Carolina State, Centenary (the only winless team in Division I), Southern, Texas-Pan American, and Houston Baptist have a lower RPI. This is what happens when you're in last place in the worst league in the country. Alcorn State might get a win this week, as they travel to Southern, whom they beat at home.

Oakland (20-9, 15-1 Summit) RPI: 63 - The Golden Grizzlies would be an at large team if they had been able to beat Illinois and Michigan State instead of suffering close losses to them. Their only loss in the Summit League is to IUPUI in Indy. I think if they had won the Summit League undefeated, then lost in the tournament final, there could be an argument for an at large bid, but it is unlikely now. They only have one victory against the top 100 (Tennessee). They have already clinched the Summit League regular season title and at least an NIT berth.

Austin Peay (17-12, 11-5 Ohio Valley) RPI: 125 - With two games to play, the Governors are a game out of first place in a jumbled OVC. Murray State and Morehead State are tied for first, and Austin Peay went a combined 2-2 against them. They wrap up regular season play this week against Eastern Illinois and Southeast Missouri State.

Southern Illinois (12-16, 5-11 MVC) RPI: 208 - The Salukis are our worst win other than Howard and Alcorn State, with Indiana just above them. They host Cuonzo Martin's Missouri State team this week, but they are only in 8th place in the Missouri Valley Conference. They have won just two of their last nine games, and are no threat for the postseason.

Richmond (21-7, 10-3 Atlantic 10) RPI: 62 - It is the same old story for the Spiders. Most tournament projections have them right on the Bubble, and their profile looks better with every win we rack up. You can't tell me they weren't the most excited team in the country that we beat Ohio State on Sunday. They're only 1-3 against the top 50, but 4-5 against the top 100. Ironically, their worst loss is to Georgia Tech, which doesn't happen often. They have won five of six, but their only loss was to a ranked Temple team that would have really helped their case. A third place finish in the A-10 (Their current position) should be enough to get them in.

Virginia Tech (17-8, 7-5 ACC) RPI: 67 - For the love of God, I wish the Hokies would do something to distinguish themselves as a tournament team. Their resume couldn't be any more bland. They are 1-5 against the top 50. The one win was against #49 Florida State. They have exactly one chance to stand out left, when they host Duke on Saturday. The fact they are 4th in the ACC should tell you how bad the ACC is.

Alabama (18-8, 10-2 SEC) RPI: 72 - When I last did this report Alabama had an RPI of 90. They have a decent 2-2 record against the top 50 (wins over Kentucky and Tennessee, losses to Purdue and Vanderbilt) and they are 3-5 against the top 100. What hurts them is the fact their schedule is incredibly weak. Their best non-conference win is against 121 Lipscomb, but their worst loss is to Iowa. The Crimson Tide finishes against Auburn, at Mississippi, at Florida, and Georgia. Would a 3-1 finish get them in? It is hard to say. If they win out they will be the SEC regular season champion, so that would help their profile a lot.

Valparaiso (20-9, 11-5 Horizon) RPI: 54 - The Crusaders just cannot get any separation for themselves. They beat Missouri State this weekend in the BracketBusters, but lost by a point in overtime to Green Bay last night. That loss was crippling, as it may have cost them a Horizon League championship and the ability to host the league tournament. Green Bay won both games against them by a total of three points, and it is safe to say that if those games were wins Valpo would possibly be an at large team at the moment. They are 4-4 against the top 100, 3-4 against the top 50, but they have five losses to sub.-100 teams, bottoming out with a loss to 329 Toledo. The Horizon League will probably get two teams in, but Valpo is currently third RPI-wise in the league.

North Florida (11-18, 8-10 Atlantic Sun) RPI: 176 - The Ospreys wont heir last game in triple overtime over Kennesaw State, but they are still a pretty mediocre team in the Atlantic Sun. They have gone just 3-6 over their last nine games and sit in sixth place in the league. Belmont, at 25-4 overall and 17-1 in the conference will be the team to beat.

Indiana State (15-13, 10-6 MVC) RPI: 122 - The Sycamores are a prime example of the Missouri Valley Conference this year. They're a good team, but pretty mediocre on a national scale. They face Northern Iowa this week with a victory giving them a third place finish. It is entirely possible they could win the Missouri Valley Conference tournament and steal the auto-bid, but they are most likely going to be a CBI or CIT team.

IPFW (17-10, 10-6 Summit League) RPI: 171 - The Mastodons are battling Oral Roberts for third place in the Summit League. Their reward would be avoiding Oakland until the championship game of the league tournament. They finish this week against Southern Utah and UMKC, but they should finish with a good enough record to be considered for one of the non-NIT postseason tournaments.

West Virginia (17-9, 8-6 Big East) RPI: 22 - The Mountaineers are a solid NCAA Tournament team after knocking off Notre Dame last week. Their overall profile is very strong with six wins against the top 50. Their worst loss is at Miami, which is far from a horrible loss. Some bracket projections have them in our bracket as a 6 or 7 seed, which would be interesting. I'd love another shot at them on a neutral floor with Jim Burr screwing things up thousands of miles way.

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