This will be the last non-conference opponents' update before Selection Sunday, as we're solidly in the field. ESPN has blessed us with lock status, meaning that even an unexpected loss to Nebraska on Thursday still has us in the field with a very weak Bubble. If Northwestern is still considered as a possible NCAA tournament team with an 8-10 record in conference then Purdue is more than safe at 10-8 with two wins over the Wildcats.
That means we're playing for a seed, and to try and avoid the dreaded 8/9 game.
Record: 20-11, 10-8 Big Ten (No. 1 RPI conference)
RPI: 42 (according to CBS Sports)
Top 25 RPI wins: at Michigan (12), Temple (14) (neutral)
Top 50 RPI wins: at Northwestern (49), Iona (42) (neutral), Northwestern (49)
Record vs. Top 50: 6-8 (2-7 vs. Top 25)
Bad Losses (sub 100 teams): Butler (114) (neutral), at Penn State (159)
Northern Illinois Huskies - 5-25, 3-13 MAC West, RPI: 336 - The Huskies pulled off a stunner last night, going on the road in the opening round of the MAC Tournament and shocking West Division winner Eastern Michigan 55-52. They now advance to the MAC quarterfinals to face another former opponent of ours: Western Michigan. That's just about the best this team could hope for, as they rank 343rd out of 344 teams in field goal percentage.
High Point Panthers - 13-18, 8-10 Big South, RPI: 269 - The team that scared us so much has seen their season end in the Big South quarterfinals against UNC-Asheville, who went on to take that league's automatic bid. High Point did win its tournament opener 68-58 over Gardner Webb.
Iona Gaels - 25-7, 15-3 MAAC, RPI: 42 - It's time to sweat for the Gaels. They got a bye to the semifinals of the MAAC tournament and immediately lost to Fairfield 85-75. They now sit squarely on the bubble, but in my mind they are a much more deserving team than someone like Northwestern. My thoughts on teams that cannot finish at .500 or better in their league are well known, but with Iona, you have a team that can very obviously play with most teams in the country. Their most costly loss might have been to Purdue, as it prevent them from playing games against Temple and either Wichita State or Alabama to boost their profile. As it is, they were 1-1 against the top 50, beating Nevada. Frankly, it is a travesty if a team like Northwestern or Connecticut gets in ahead of them.
Temple Owls - 24-6, 13-3 Atlantic 10, RPI: 14 - Temple finished the year as the sole champion of a multi-bid league, give us a very good win in the early season. Temple does not have to win the A-10 Tournament, as they are a stone-cold lock in the NCAA Tournament. Given Iona's position and Miami's struggles the Owls could be the only NCAA team we beat out of conference.
Alabama Crimson Tide - 20-10, 9-7 SEC, RPI: 32 - This is not a bad loss, as the Tide is likely in the tournament unless they gack it in the opening round of the SEC Tournament against South Carolina. That is possible, as the Gamecocks beat Alabama during the regular season for one of their two SEC wins. Still, this team beat Wichita State, VCU, and us, so they have to be considered in.
Western Michigan Broncos - 13-19, 6-10 MAC West, RPI: 209 - WMU beat Ball State to open the MAC Tournament and they get Northern Illinois next. They should at least make the semifinals, but in this league heavily skewed to the East they'll likely fall in the semis. Still, they are alive for the NCAAs.
Coppin St. Eagles - 14-15, 9-7 MEAC, RPI: 266 - Coppin State opens the MEAC tournament against Florida A&M tonight. This is a league likely bound for the play-in games unless Savannah State wins, and even then it's a stretch.
Miami Hurricanes - 18-11, 9-7 ACC, RPI: 55 - The Canes lost at NC State in a game they really needed, but they still closed out with a home win over Boston College on Saturday. The Canes open the ACC tournament against Georgia Tech and it is a must win, as is a quarterfinal game against Florida State. That might be enough to get them into the Tournament, but they would be a team that could get in at the expense of Iona or Northwestern.
Xavier Musketeers - 19-11, 10-6 Atlantic 10, RPI: 54 - What do we do with the X-men? They get a bye to the A-10 quarterfinals, but this is a team that likely needs to win a game or two there to feel better about itself. They've got wins over Purdue, Vanderbilt, and Cincinnati, but the rest of the profile is meh. I think they are in if they reach the A-10 final.
Western Carolina Catamounts - 17-18, 8-10 Southern, RPI: 224 - WCU damn near made a miracle run to the NCAAs before falling by two in double overtime to Davidson. Teams like Miami, Iona, and Northwestern breathed a sigh of relief too. Davidson was a possible team that would have gotten an at large bid because of their very impressive win over Kansas. As it is, w lost out on a win over another (albeit unlikely) NCAA team.
Eastern Michigan Eagles - 14-18, 9-7 MAC West, RPI: 225 - Eastern Michigan won the AMC West, but crapped themselves at home against one of the worst teams in the nation to open the MAC Tournament. So, it is Northern Illinois moving on, not the Eagles.
Butler Bulldogs - 20-14, 11-7 Horizon, RPI: 114 - The Bulldogs had to take the long way through the Horizon Tourney after the regular season finale loss to Valparaiso, but they beat Wright State and Milwaukee before losing to Valpo again in the semis. This team is likely going to get snatched up by the NIT on name-recognition alone, and it is setting itself up for an NCAA return next year. As always, Butler is going to be dangerous. They'll be playing in the postseason somewhere.
IPFW Mastodons - 11-19, 5-13 Summit, RPI: 278 - The Mastodons qualified for the Summit League Tournament and put the fear of God into Oral Roberts once again before losing 71-67. That scared them so much that ORU lost to Western Illinois 54-53 in the tournament's semifinals last night. Oral Roberts now goes to the NIT, while either Western Illinois or South Dakota State will make the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever.