Purdue's NCAA Tournament profile looks light years better this week than it did last week. I think we can safely say that as long as the Boilermakers don't lose all three of the next three games (Penn State, Indiana, and the 11 or 12 seed in the Big Ten Tournament) we will be in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. A big reason for that is Robbie Hummel, who was named the Big Ten Co-Player of the Week for his efforts last week.
We're also getting help from our opponents. Miami recovered from a mid-week choke at Maryland to dominate Florida State in the second half yesterday. Iona continued to improve their profile and they enter the MAAC tournament as a legitimate at large candidate. Temple lost finally, but is still a strong win.
It also helps that the Bubble continues to shrink and is very week. Northwestern, which barely pulled out a win at Penn State, is still considered a last 4 in team. As long as that statement remains true we're perfectly fine.
Now we're playing for a seed. Most projections have us in a dreaded 8/9 game, but I would rather slide to a 10/11 or move up to a 6/7 because those mean we avoid a No. 1 seed for as long as possible. To me, it is very important we at least win a game once we get to the tournament because of our 13 game first round winning streak. I also would like to hang around as long as possible. Butler and VCU have proven that seeds don't matter, and if you get hot at the right time anything can happen.
I'm not booking tickets to New Orleans yet, but you just never know what can happen. The hard part, making the tournament, is likely over.
Record: 19-10, 9-7 Big Ten (No. 1 RPI conference)
RPI: 39 (according to CBS Sports) - A 14 spot rise from last week
Top 25 RPI wins: Temple (14) (neutral), at Michigan (16)
Top 50 RPI wins: at Northwestern (44), Miami (FL) (48), Iona (42) (neutral), Northwestern (44)
Record vs. Top 50: 6-7 (2-6 vs. top 25)
Bad Losses (sub 100 teams): Butler (119) (neutral), at Penn State (152)
Northern Illinois Huskies - 3-24, 2-12 MAC West, RPI: 334 - Can the Huskies unofficially be the worst team in the country? With an RPI of 339 they rate ahead of only five other teams in Division I. they lost this week at Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan to clinch a last place finish in the MAC.
High Point Panthers -12-17, 8-10 Big South, RPI: 271 - High Point closed its regular season with a 98-60 win over Campbell, who blew out Iowa earlier in the year. They will begin the Big South Tournament at home tonight against Gardner Webb (12-19, 6-12), with whom they split a pair of overtime games, each by four points.
Iona Gaels - 24-6, 15-3 MAAC, RPI: 42 - Iona should be an NCAA Tournament team. I go based on "the eye test" when I say that more than the numbers. The Gaels were the regular season MAAC champion and likely only team with an at large chance out of that conference, so like Oral Roberts in the Summit, teams want them to win their conference tournament. I would say that as long as Iona reaches the final against Loyola (MD) or Manhattan, they are in. Iona is suspect defensively, but more than good enough offensively to be a bastard of a 12 seed for some team unlucky enough to play them. Don't be surprised if they make a Sweet 16 run.
Temple Owls - 22-6, 11-3 Atlantic 10, RPI: 14 - Temple's loss at St. Joseph's is far from a bad one, especially since a Big 5 title was on the line. Those Big 5 Philly games mean more than regular conference games, and St. Joe's is playing to get themselves into the dance. Temple can claim the outright A-10 title with wins over UMass and Fordham this week, or if they win only one of those games and St. Louis loses once.
Alabama Crimson Tide - 19-9, 8-6 SEC, RPI: 27 - I think Alabama likely booked its ticket to the NCAA Tournament this week with wins at Arkansas and at home against Mississippi State. One more victory in the next three gets them to the magical 20 win plateau, assures them of a winning SEC record, and the RPI is solid with wins over Wichita State, Purdue, and Maryland in Puerto Rico, plus a nice win over VCU, and a close call with Georgetown.
Western Michigan Broncos - 12-17, 6-8 MAC West, RPI: 188 - WMU beat Ball State this week before losing to Toledo, and they are sitting tied for second in the MAC West. They're still not much a threat in the MAC with their overall record, but the RPI is a tad higher than the rest of the MAC bottom feeders because of a stronger schedule. They played five straight possible NCAA teams in Temple, Iona, Colorado, Purdue, and Gonzaga.
Coppin St. Eagles - 13-14, 8-6 MEAC, RPI: 267 - The Eagles only played once last week and fell to lowly Morgan State 91-80. They get Maryland-Eastern Shore and Bethune Cookman this week, but can finish no higher than fourth in a very weak conference.
Miami Hurricanes - 17-10, 8-6 ACC, RPI: 48 - Miami did not get into the NCAA Tournament with yesterday's 78-62 win over Florida State, but they are much closer now that they have a second top 25 win. The win at Duke is, of course, stellar. Florida State at No. 25 is a very good win, but they are still only 2-6 against the top 50. They play at NC State this week and though the Wolfpack is only at No. 67, it is almost a Bubble elimination game. NC State also won in Coral Gables by five earlier this year. What stung the ‘Canes was blowing a five point lead at Maryland with two minutes left last week. If Miami beats NC State they finish at home on Saturday against Boston College, and since I'll be in the MIA I just might go to that game. Yes, I am a college basketball addict.
Xavier Musketeers - 18-10, 9-5 Atlantic 10, RPI: 54 - This loss still pisses me off, because now we've become a good win for them. Xavier plays at St. Louis tomorrow night and that can help us two fold. First, Xavier likely needs this win for its NCAA profile. Second, a Xavier win all but gives the A-10 regular season title to Temple, making our win over the Owls look even better. Xavier is hanging around down in the "Last Four In" area of many projections.
Western Carolina Catamounts - 14-17, 8-10 Southern, RPI: 241 - Break up the Catamounts! They enter the SoCon Tournamnet on a four game winning streak after beating Samford and Appalachian State, and they will play The Citadel on March 2 in the first SoCon Tourney game. Davidson is the heavy favorite and, like Iona and Oral Roberts, the only team with even remote at large hopes in their conference.
Eastern Michigan Eagles - 13-16, 8-6 MAC West, RPI: 228 - The Eagles have all but clinched the MAC West title! Okay, that means very little in what is probably the weakest top to bottom division in America, but it means they get the overall No. 2 seed in the MAC Tournament. EMU beat northern Illinois and Ball State in their final two home games this week and they will now get a first round bye in the MAC Tourney, but they have games against Western Michigan and Toledo this week. It's unlikely, but because of seeding this team is only 3 wins away from the NCAAs.
Butler Bulldogs - 18-12, 11-7 Horizon, RPI: 119 - Oh Butler, it was all right there for the taking. A win at Valpo in a game the Crusaders had nothing to gain would have given you the No. 2 seed and a bye to the Horizon semifinals. Instead, your five game win streak was snapped 71-59. Now the Bulldogs have to host Wright State tomorrow night before going to the Horizon quarterfinals at Valparaiso. Butler swept Wright State and a Horizon tourney win that gets them into the Dance would put Butler's profile above the 100 line, but that is much harder now.
IPFW Mastodons - 11-18, 5-13 Summit, RPI: 280 - IPFW won at UMKC 76-73 on Saturday to break an eight game losing streak and assure they get at least one more game. That qualified the Mastodons for the Summit League Tournament as the No. 8 and final seed, meaning they get Oral Roberts (26-5, 17-1) in the opening game. IPFW played ORU tough two weeks ago, losing 75-71 at home. Oral Roberts has seen their RPI rise to No. 41, so they are an at large candidate, but only if they lose in the Summit title game to South Dakota State (No. 57).