If Purdue is going to return to the NCAA Tournament in 2014 it will have a solid building base to start from with its non-conference schedule. The @BoilerBall Twitter officially released the 13 game non-conference schedule today, and the 18-game Big Ten slate is coming later. I tracked it in an earlier entry today, but here is the full list:
October 30 Indianapolis (Exhibition)
November 4 Wayne State (Exhibition)
November 8 Northern Kentucky
November 13 Central Connecticut State
November 17 Rider
November 20 Eastern Illinois
November 24 Siena (Old Spice Classic)
November 28-December 1: Old Spice Classic, Orlando, FL (includes: Butler, LSU, Memphis, Oklahoma State, St. Joseph's, Siena, and Washington State)
December 4 Boston College
December 7 Eastern Michigan
December 14 vs. Butler at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
December 17 Maryland-Eastern Shore
December 21 at West Virginia
Purdue will have an extremely young team next season with only two seniors (as it stands right now) and no juniors, but there is still enough there to build a respectable non-conference resume before getting into Big Ten play, which always has plenty of resume win chances.
In 2012-13 Purdue played three teams that made the NCAA Tournament at the end of the year during the non-conference schedule. A big reason Purdue didn't make the tournament is that the Boilers lost all three of these games to Bucknell, Villanova, and Notre Dame.
Purdue can play a similar number of teams this year, depending on how the Old Spice Classic shakes out. There is the guaranteed game against Butler, who reached the round of 32 and near knocked off Marquette. Purdue could play them twice depending on the Old Spice Classic. Oklahoma State and Memphis also made last year's tournament.
Teams such as West Virginia, Boston College, St. Joseph's, and Siena have played in recent NCAA Tournaments while any game against LSU or Washington State at least has the stigma of playing a major conference opponent.
Here are the 2012-13 records of all opponents:
Northern Kentucky - 11-16, 9-9 Atlantic Sun - It should be noted 2012-13 was the first season at the Division I level for the Norse.
Central Connecticut State - 13-17, 9-9 Northeast - CCSU made the tournament as recently as 2007, losing to Ohio State in round 1
Rider - 19-15, 12-6 MAAC - Rider played in the fourth tier CIT Tournament last season, reaching the second round. They also had only two seniors, so they could be the MAAC favorites and an NCAA team in 2013-14.
Eastern Illinois - 11-21, 6-10 Ohio Valley - Eastern Illinois last made the NCAAs in 2001.
Siena - 8-24, 4-14 MAAC - After making three consecutive NCAA Tournaments under Fran MCCaffery in 2008, 2009, and 2010 they have fallen apart a bit. We remember them as Purdue's first round opponent in 2010 when every expert thought the Boilers were ripe for an upset because of Robbie Hummel's injury. They also are breaking in a new coach.
LSU - 19-12, 9-9 SEC - LSU was a win short of 20 wins and didn't even receive an NIT or CBI invite. SEC basketball, everyone!
Memphis - 31-5, 16-0 Conference USA - Purdue's best possible non-conference opponent depending on what Butler does. Their only losses last year were to VCU, Minnesota, Louisville, Xavier, and Michigan State.
Oklahoma State - 24-9, 13-5 Big 12 - Like Memphis, the Cowboys got to the NCAA Tournament and won a game. They should be pretty good led by Marcus Smart, who might be the best player that did not declare early for the draft.
St. Joseph's - 18-14, 8-8 Atlantic 10 - You always know any game against the Hawks will be a tough affair, as they play pretty solid basketball. This team lost in the first round of the NIT to St. John's.
Washington State - 13-19, 4-14 Pac-12 - The Cougars finished in a last place tie in the Pac-12 with the same Oregon State team that beat Purdue. They last went dancing in 2008 when they reached the Sweet 16.
Boston College - 16-17, 7-11 ACC - BC reached the 2009 tournament, but they have struggled since moving to the ACC. They came within a point of beating both Duke and Miami at home this past year.
Eastern Michigan - 16-18, 7-9 MAC - Of all the losses last year, and there were a lot, this one pissed me off the most. We had no business only scoring 44 points against a crappy MAC team that was 339th nationally in scoring.
Butler - 27-9, 11-5 Atlantic 10 - It never hurt to have two possible games against a good team like Butler, and the Bulldogs are the premier team in the state of Indiana. In fact, they have been for some time now minus the slight dip in 2012.
Maryland-Eastern Shore 2-26, 2-14 MEAC - They have never made the tournament and they would have been the worst team in Division I last season if not for Grambling State going 0-28 and losing every game by double digits except for the final one.
West Virginia 13-19, 6-12 Big 12 - Bob Huggins' teams are rarely awful two seasons in a row and this was a young team that took some lumps last season. Think of them as similar to Purdue in that light, making this a good road game Purdue could use if its resume is on the Bubble.
Teams Purdue has no valid excuse to lose to: Northern Kentucky, Central Connecticut State, Rider, Eastern Illinois, Siena, Eastern Michigan, Maryland-Eastern Shore
Possible NCAA Teams: Rider, Butler, Oklahoma State, Memphis, LSU, St. Joseph's, Boston College, West Virginia
Sneaky upset team if Purdue isn't paying attention: Rider
Best three wins Purdue could get: Memphis, Oklahoma State, Butler (x2?)
Worst loss if it happened: Maryland-Eastern Shore
Purdue's worst-case scenario for an at large bid: 9-4 with losses to Memphis, Oklahoma State, a split with Butler, and at West Virginia
Way too early prediction from T-Mill: 10-3. I see Purdue dropping a close one at West Virginia (but learning a lot in the process) and possibly two in Orlando depending on the draw. I wouldn't be surprised if Purdue lost to Butler, but beat West Virginia while dropping two in Orlando, either.