Non-Conference Opponents’ Update: January 9

It is time once again for the weekly look at Purdue's NCAA profile, various bracketologies, and how well our non-conference opponents are doing. If you can believe it, our overall profile actually increased despite a 20 point loss at one of the lowest rated teams within our conference. That means it could have been an even better week had we taken care of our business in Happy Valley. Here are some of our major boosts from the past week:

  • Temple defeated Duke - This was a huge boost, as our non-conference win over Temple in Puerto Rico is by far our best.
  • Illinois escaped twice - It wasn't pretty for the Fighting Illini, but wins over Northwestern on the road and Nebraska at home moved them into the top 25 RPI-wise.
  • Iona kept winning - This is another critical team that will make us look good the better they are. They have a serious chance of being an at large team if they lose their conference tourney.
  • Miami won a track meet - Miami was in danger of a pretty bad loss mid-week at home against UNC-Greensboro, but they pulled it off. Too bad they couldn't do the same over the weekend.

Of course, there were some bad things that happened as well:

  • We lost at Penn State - At least it was on the road, but they are at 125 and unlikely to rise much.
  • Butler lost at Detroit - Butler is in danger of slipping under the 100 barrier, but they can take a huge step forward this weekend.
  • Minnesota's slow start - Since we only play the Golden Gophers once, and on the road at that, this is almost like a non-conference game. That means, as a true road win, it has more value if they can turn things around.

Our overall profile is still pretty good, and I kind of like where we are getting placed in Bracketology. According to SB Nation, we are an 8 seed in the Midwest with a very favorable draw. I do not fear San Diego State, Baylor is the weakest No. 1 seed here, and the UConn-Virginia pod isn't particularly strong, either. That could be a bracket rife for upsets to favor us, and if we get to play close to home in St. Louis you never know.

ESPN's Bracketology is very similar. There, we are a 7 seed facing Wichita State in round one, with Baylor in round 2. I like the Wichita State matchup because we got to scout them down in Puerto Rico. Our Sweet 16 opponent could well be Murray State in that regard.

Of course, these brackets mean little right now. We have more than enough time left to build our profile and improve our seed. As of now, here is our profile, followed by a look at how well each of our non-conference opponents are doing.

Record: 13-4, 3-1 Big Ten (No. 1 RPI conference)

RPI: 36 (according to CBS Sports)

Top 25 RPI wins: Illinois, Temple (neutral)

Top 50 RPI wins: Iona (neutral)

Bad Losses (sub 100 teams): Penn State (125)

Northern Illinois Huskies - 1-12, 0-1 MAC West, RPI: 340 - The Huskies finally got a win, but it was against a non-Division I team. It is entirely possible they could be the lowest rated team in the country before long, as their RPI is only above Hartford, Alabama A&M, Binghamton, and UC-Davis. We lost by even playing this game.

High Point Panthers - 6-9, 2-3 Big South, RPI: 233 - The Panthers would be on a three-game winning streak if not for an overtime loss to Gardner-Webb. This week they face perennial Big South power Winthrop, but UNC-Asheville is currently tops in this conference at 4-0. Unfortunately, the Big South winner will be hard pressed to avoid a trip to Dayton to start the tournament. Coastal Carolina has the best overall record at 11-4.

Iona Gaels - 13-3, 5-0 MAAC, RPI: 32 - As I expected, this is still a good win, but the weakness of the MAAC overall is going to drag their RPI down over time. One of their other losses, to Marshall, isn't bad, but the loss to Hofstra stings. Iona leads everyone in their conference by two games except Loyola (MD), whom they play on Sunday. As long as Iona doesn't slip up too many times they should be safe on Selection Sunday even if they are upset in the conference tournament.

Temple Owls - 10-4, 0-1 Atlantic-10, RPI: 24 - This is the first of our top 25 RPI wins, and unlike Iona, it has the potential to stay level if not rise. The win over Duke was huge for them, and consequently, us. They then lost their A-10 opener to Dayton, but this is a multi-bid league almost every season. Xavier, Dayton, Temple, St. Louis, and LaSalle will all challenge for bids in this conference, which is one of the best non-BCS leagues.

Alabama Crimson Tide - 12-3, 1-0 SEC, RPI: 20 - The best thing that came out of Puerto Rico is that we played the three best teams in the field and got two wins. Alabama started SEC play this week with a win over Georgia and they play LSU, a possible NCAA team, in the midweek. Of course, good luck finding anyone one campus that cares about LSU vs. Alabama basketball today.

Western Michigan Broncos - 6-9, 0-1 MAC West, RPI: 114 - Western Michigan is the closest team under the 100 barrier to breaking it. They opened MAC play with a loss to Ball State, but they should get a win on Wednesday when they host Northern Illinois. On January 3rd Western got a very nice out of conference win over Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who leads the Horizon League at the moment. As you know, the Horizon League is always a pretty solid mid-major conference, so that is a win that can't be slighted.

Coppin St. Eagles - 6-9, 1-1 MEAC, RPI: 227 - As of now, their RPI is tied with IPFW, so the 227 you'll see later is not a typo. Unfortunately, this is another conference that is likely bound for Dayton regardless of who wins it. They earned a conference win over Howard last week, but dropped their second league game to Savannah State. Leader Norfolk State at 11-5 is the only team with a winning record.

Miami Hurricanes - 9-5, 0-1 ACC, RPI: 60 - The ‘Canes missed a great opportunity to boost their own profile with a one point conference opening loss at Virginia on Saturday. Durand Scott had a chance for the win in the closing seconds, but could not get off a good shot as they lost 52-51. They have another great opportunity tomorrow night at North Carolina to get a good win. The Virginia loss broke a four game winning streak. After the UNC game Miami has a nice five game stretch where they can really gain some ground against the middle of the ACC.

Xavier Musketeers - 10-5, 1-1 Atlantic-10, RPI: 48 - Once again, I continue to be angry with Xavier and their inability to "zip ‘em up". In fact, they've had a veritable zombie apocalypse of losses against the supposed dead bodies they were leaving. They dropped their conference opener at LaSalle before winning at Fordham on Sunday. Fordham was coming off of an upset of a ranked Harvard team, so that wasn't a bad win, but Xavier's struggles need to be straightened out before they fall behind in a tough league.

Western Carolina Catamounts - 8-8, 3-1 Southern Conference, RPI: 168 - WCU has an excellent opportunity to help itself on Thursday when they play at Davidson. They are now 3-1 in the SoCon after beating Wofford, but losing at Chattanooga. If they can topple Davidson, who also beat Kansas, they can move into first place in the SoCon. As of right now they lead the North Divison by a half game over Elon. This is a team that could certainly steal an auto-bid and give us a small boost on Selection Sunday.

Eastern Michigan Eagles - 6-9, 1-0 MAC West, RPI: 206 - Again, this isn't a great win, but someone has to win the MAC West, right? EMU ranks 342nd out of 344 teams in scoring. They did beat Northern Illinois last week by seven for their only conference win so far. This week they get to face Central Michigan and Ball State in key divisional games.

Butler Bulldogs - 9-8, 3-2 Horizon League, RPI: 98 - If Butler is going to win the Horizon League regular season title they need a home sweep this weekend. Cleveland State and Youngstown State, both of whom are 4-1 in conference play, come to Hinkle Fieldhouse on Friday and Sunday, respectively. Right now, Cleveland State is the best hope for making this a multi-bid league at 14-3 overall. They are a legitimately tough team, but Butler can still have a say by winning the conference. If they do, they would host the tourney at Hinkle and only need two wins to reach the NCAAs. Their loss to Detroit on Sunday hurts, as it broke a four game winning streak.

IPFW Mastodons - 9-7, 3-4 Summit League, RPI: 227 - Oakland is struggling in this conference, but Oral Roberts has emerged at 6-0 and the likely pesky No. 14 seed for someone in round one. IPFW had a busy week last week with wins over Southern Utah and IUPUI, but lost to Western Illinois. This week they host Oakland on Saturday, with their following game being at Oral Roberts.

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