Yes, the NCAA Tournament is still very much a longshot with eight games to go in the regular season. Purdue is just 14-9 overall and has an RPI of 102, which is far from the stuff that at large bids are made of. The dream likely died with Sunday's loss in Happy Valley, but after last night's triple overtime victory over Minnesota there is still at least a small chance. The win stands as Purdue's only victory over a top 50 RPI team (Purdue is now 1-5 vs. the top 50), and the only thing keeping us remotely alive is a backloaded schedule.
Purdue's final eight games are all against top 100 teams and five of those are against the top 30.Should Purdue beat the non-top 30 teams (Indiana, Northwestern, at Nebraska) and pull out three wins against the top 30 the profile will improve at least to the Bubble. At minimum, Purdue would be a team that "finished strong", which is always good in the eyes of the committee.
At best we're looking at a 5% chance, but if Purdue can knock off Ohio State in Columbus on Saturday things will look a lot better. All we can do is take it one game at a time. In the meantime, here is how the non-conference profile is looking:
Vs. Top 50: 1-5
Vs. 51-100: 4-1
Sub.-100 losses: Butler, Washington State, Penn State
Northern Kentucky (8-15, 4-7 Atlantic Sun) - RPI: 284, KenPom: 302 - Since the last update the Norse have fallen on hard times, as they have dropped four of five in the Atlantic Sun. The only victory was against Kennesaw State, who is now 2-20. Some good news for their future, however. Tayler Persons from my hometown has returned from a torn ACL just 4.5 months after surgery and had 40 points in two games last weekend. He is committed to the Norse and got hurt during football season.
Central Connecticut State (6-15, 2-6 Northeast) - RPI: 326, KenPom: 320 - CCSU has conference wins now against Robert Morris and Wagner, with the RMU victory coming on the road by a point on Saturday. That was a significant win because Robert Morris leads the NEC at 7-1 and has been a recent tournament representative for them several times of late. They even almost pulled off a 15 over 2 upset of Villanova in 2010. It's unlikely, but the win over RMU shows CCSU could be an NCAA team if they get hot in the conference tourney.
Rider (12-9, 8-4 MAAC) - RPI: 172, KenPom: 184 - Rider is in the running for the automatic bid out of the MAAC after three straight wins over Monmouth, St. Peter's, and Fairfield. They are currently tied for third at 8-4 in the league with Manhattan and Quinnipiac, two games behind Canisius and Iona. They have a legitimate chance to win the conference tournament and get the automatic bid.
Eastern Illinois (8-14, 5-5 Ohio Valley) - RPI: 281, KenPom: 309 - EIU has alternated wins and losses in each of their last eight games, which has them in second place in their division in the Ohio Valley Conference, four games behind perennial power Murray State. Belmont is the class of the conference at 16-8 and, with an RPI of 60, has an outside chance at an at large berth.
Siena (10-13, 6-6 MAAC) - RPI: 205, KenPom: 189 - Purdue's double wins over the Saints continue to have very little value, as Siena is middling along in the MAAC. They had won three in a row over St. Peter's, Fairfield, and Niagara before losing to Quinnipiac. On Sunday, February 23rd they play Rider again, having already beaten the Broncs once.
Oklahoma State (16-6, 4-5 Big 12) - RPI: 29, KenPom: 23 - The Cowboys are fading fast, as they have lost four of five and their only win in that time came over West Virginia, which hurts Purdue even more given our victory over WVU. Stevie Clark was recently dismissed from the team, which has lost to Kansas, Baylor, Iowa State, and Oklahoma. At least those are not bad losses.
Washington State (9-13, 2-8 Pac-12) - RPI: 153, KenPom: 187 - WSU continues to be Purdue's worst loss because at least Butler is playing teams close and Penn State is on fire. Washington State is ahead of only USC in the Pac-12 and only has victories over Utah and Washington.
Boston College (6-16, 2-7 ACC) - RPI: 175, KenPom: 144 - Someone has to be at the bottom of the ACC and it is Boston College. Virginia Tech sits behind them with one victory while defending champion Miami is also 2-7. Miami is at least rebuilding. Boston College just sucks. Both wins in league play were over Virginia Tech, though BC lost by three at Notre Dame on Sunday.
Eastern Michigan (12-10, 4-5 MAC) - RPI: 78, KenPom: 125 - At one point it looked as if EMU might contend for an at large berth out of the MAC. They had a decent RPI, but have now lost 4 of 5 in the MAC with two of them coming to a pretty good Akron team. Eastern Michigan trails in the Western Division by three games.
Butler (12-10, 2-8 Big East) - RPI: 107, KenPom: 95 - Butler's first season in the Big East has been full of close losses. Outside of the conference the Bulldogs fell to Oklahoma State by two and LSU by two in overtime. In conference They lost to Villanova in OT by 3, DePaul in double OT by 5, and Georgetown in OT by 3. Half of their losses have been outright painful, otherwise, this is a 17-5 NCAA lock.
Maryland-Eastern Shore (3-16, 1-6 MEAC) - RPI: 344, KenPom: 346 - Maryland-Eastern Shore is not the worst Division I team in America, but they can see the bottom from where they are. They ranked ahead of only Presbyterian, Abilene Christian, The Citadel, Southern Utah, and Grambling according to KenPom's numbers. They did get a recent conference win over North Carolina A&T at 67-60, which broke a 13 game losing streak.
West Virginia (14-9, 6-4 Big 12) - RPI: 74, KenPom: 61 - The Mountaineers are surging right now, as they have moved to 6-4 in the Big 12 and are in third place after last night's upset over Oklahoma. They have won four of five with the only loss coming to Oklahoma State and two of the wins were over Kansas State and Baylor. They get Kansas, Iowa State, and Texas int heir next three as they too fight to reach Bubble consideration.