It is back!
The near weekly rundown of how well Purdue's Men's Basketball non-conference opponents are doing has returned as I look at what is a high value win and what is a bad loss. Generally in the eyes of the committee a "bad loss" is one to any team that has an RPI of 100 or lower. They generally give more credit for true road wins with neutral court victories also carrying a little more weight than a home victory.
All of those factors come into play when it comes to Purdue's non-conference schedules. Unlike teams that play almost exclusively at home in the first two month of the season, Purdue has a pair of true road games out of the conference and three neutral court games. Three of those five games are past with the next coming Saturday at Eastern Michigan and the final one a week later against Notre Dame at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
So far Purdue has not done a lot, but as you'll see, the strength of schedule is there to erase some of the losses.
Bucknell - 8-1, RPI: 27 - I am tired of people saying this is a bad loss. Purdue played without its leading scorer, played five freshmen, and took on a very experienced team that won 25 games last year. Their RPI is really high for a mid-to-low major, and the better Purdue does the more likely they can get an at large bid out of the Patriot League. The one loss was a 60-57 loss at Penn State. This team could be in the top 25 when it plays at Missouri on January 5. If you call this a bad loss you know nothing about college basketball. If anything, THEY have a bad loss at Penn State.
Hofstra - 3-6, RPI: 277 - Purdue's worst win is likely going to get worse as Hofstra had four players suspended indefinitely as they face burglary charges. These fools broke into their own coach's house! On the court Hofstra had a three-game win streak over South Dakota State, District of Columbia, and in double overtime over Marshall before losing four in a row.
Villanova - 4-4, RPI: 145 - This is our worse loss to date, making the egregious call at the end of the game sting even more. The Wildcats have since lost to Columbia, LaSalle, and Temple as they are 0-2 in their Philadelphia Big 5 round-robin. Sadly, the loss to Columbia was by 18 points. At least Villanova recently beat Vanderbilt.
Oregon State - 4-2, RPI: 107 - Oregon State's RPI will go up as they play better teams and get into Pac-12 play. Their lone loss since New York was 84-78 to Kansas last Friday, which is not a bad loss at all. Angus Brandt was lost for the season against Purdue with a torn ACL, so they will be slightly short-handed. Expect this team to get on a run with several home games against weaker opponents before conference play starts in January.
UNC-Wilmington - 4-4, RPI: 237 - The Seahawks have won three of four since losing at Purdue. The only loss was at Marshall, though one of the wins was a non-D1 win over Coker. They play at Georgia Tech this Saturday in a game that could really help Purdue if they won it.
Clemson - 5-2, RPI: 161 - This is another team whose RPI will go up significantly as it gets into ACC play, and they have a golden chance to make it better by hosting Arizona Saturday night. They recently beat in-state rival South Carolina by nine, but have whiffed in their other two games against decent opponents. We could really, really use and upset of Arizona Saturday.
Xavier - 6-1, RPI: 29 - Just like Bucknell, this is another game that got away from us in the second half on our home floor. If we had just held court at home we'd be 6-2 right now with two really nice home victories over solid mid-majors. Xavier is much more likely to hold steady as they play in a tough Atlantic 10. They also host Vanderbilt tonight and still host Cincinnati and go to Tennessee and Wake Forest.
Lamar - 1-7, RPI: 249 - These Cardinals have yet to play a home game and won't until December 29 against Long Island. There are no ranked team on their schedule with only Baylor left as a possible NCAA team, so this is not the place to look for schedule strength.
Eastern Michigan - 5-2, RPI: 119 - Saturday is clearly a must-win for Purdue. EMU is close enough that their RPI could inch into the top 100, giving us a semi-decent road win like two seasons ago at Valparaiso. Lose it, and we can likely kiss the NCAAs goodbye barring a miraculous run through the Big Ten. The Eagles have two non-D1 wins and have lost to Jacksonville State and big at Syracuse. If they could win at Michigan on December 20 that would be really nice.
Notre Dame - 7-1, RPI: 62 - The first regular season game against the Fighting Irish in more than 45 years is now huge for Purdue. Their lone loss was in overtime against St. Joseph's and they have already beaten Kentucky. Putting this game on a neutral floor with the subplot of The Traitor in the background heightens things. A Purdue victory would finally give the boilers a true quality win and would get some momentum going headed into the conference season. Purdue has been so close in each of its four losses that it needs to break through here.
Ball State - 3-4, RPI: 225 - The only Division I teams the Caridnals have beaten are Wofford and Grambling. Their tow of Indiana has included losses to Indiana State, Indiana, and Butler, so Purdue has to do what the rest of the state has done: beat Ball State High School. Butler came the closest to losing, winning by 14 at Hinkle.
William & Mary - 4-3, RPI: 258 - This needs to be another easy win at home against an overmatched team. The Tribe started 3-0 by beating Hampton, Liberty, and High Point. They then lost three in a row, including one in double overtime at Richmond. They pushed Wake Forest before losing by six and recently beat Old Dominion. They could be a threat in the Colonial Athletic Association now that VCU is gone.
West Virginia - 3-3, RPI: 137 - It won't be as good of a win as the famous New Year's Day victory over an eventual Final Four team, but beating a major conference team like the Mountaineers is a must. They opened the season with a 34 point loss at Gonzaga before beating Marist and losing to Dayton and Oklahoma in the Old Spice Classic. They have since beaten VMI and Marshall (who seems to play every Purdue opponent this season). They will face Michigan on December 15 in a game that could help us too.
We can't do a whole lot about the four losses except hope that Bucknell and Xavier continue to play well while the Big East and Pac-12 drag up the RPIs of Villanova and Oregon State, respectively. I still think the following 5-8-2 model will be enough for Purdue to get to the NCAA Tournament. That breaks down as follows:
- Five wins against the five remaining Non-conference teams (Eastern Michigan, Notre Dame, Ball State, William & Mary, and West Virginia)
- Eight wins against the following Big Ten teams: Penn State (x2), Iowa (x2), Northwestern (x2), Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Illinois (x2)
- Two upset victories somewhere against the following Big Ten teams: Ohio State, Michigan State (x2), Michigan (x2), Indiana (x2), Minnesota.
That would have Purdue at 19-12 going into the Big Ten Tournament, where a first round victory being a nice cherry to put us on the happy side of the Bubble. Two wins in Chicago removes all doubt.
So, as I keep saying, it is long season. Let's go win some games.