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Some good news about Purdue basketball

An early congratulations to the Boilermaker that will get his first Super Bowl ring in a few weeks. Indianapolis' win over Baltimore assures that some Boilermaker will be a member of the Super Bowl champions this season, and it would be his first ring. We have the following players still alive:

Curtis Painter - Colts

Drew Brees - Saints

Nick Hardwick and Shaun Phillips - Chargers

Dustin Keller - Jets

Ray Edwards - Vikings

Anthony Spencer - Cowboys

There is no Defend That, Digger this week, mostly because we don't really have a space to be cocky at the moment. Sure, Digger's beloved North Carolina seems to be struggling more than we are, but you would never know it.

Instead, let's focus on something positive. If we can turn things around and finish strong we're still in a very good position for a 2 or 3 seed based on what is happening with our non-conference opponents. The committee will see this. They will overlook these recent stumbles somewhat as long as we come together. There is even an outside chance at a #1 seed still if we really turn it around, lose no worse than two games the rest of the way (including Big Ten Tournament) and look better once LewJack returns. I know I am delusional, but that is why we keep playing.

I think Kansas, Texas, and Kentucky have secured #1 seeds and will stay there unless they really begin to stumble. That leaves one up for grabs. If Michigan State, a team that struggled in non-conference play as much as we have struggled in conference play, can be considered a candidate for a #1 seed why can't we? Our goal should be a 2-3 seed anyways, because then we avoid a #1 for as long as possible. We currently have six wins over RPI top 100 teams, which is a number few teams can match. This following resume will help us get there.

Cal State Northridge (7-10, 2-3 Big West RPI: 207) - The Big West is clearly a one bid league, and the Matadors are not really in the hunt for that one bid. They have won three straight over Seattle (who beat Oregon State), Cal Riverside, and Cal State Fullerton (who beat UCLA). Of course, those Pac-10 wins would mean more if that conference had decided to participate in college basketball this year. Pacific leads the conference right now, and has already defeated Northridge by nine.

South Dakota State (9-9, 5-2 Summit RPI: 219) - The Jackrabbits have been playing well and are a threat in the Summit League. They sit alone in third place behind IUPUI (13-7, 6-1), and Oakland (13-7, 7-0). They did lose their most recent game to defending champ North Dakota State. The Jackrabbits host IPFW and Oakland in a couple of big conference games this week.This could be an NCAA Tournament team, although a 15 seed at best if they win the Summit Tournament.

St. Joseph's (5-11, 1-3 Atlantic 10 RPI: 163) - The Hawks have one win in conference play, and that is over 2-14 Fordham. This is not a good basketball team, as their one good win was over Boston College to play us.

Tennessee (14-2, 2-0 SEC RPI: 21) - As we know, The Volunteers beat the "elite" Kansas with six scholarship players, a couple of walk-ons, and a peanut vendor last week. They will undoubtedly pass us in the rankings, and they should. They grabbed a pair of nice wins to start conference play over Mississippi and Auburn. We want them to lose this week though. It looks better on us if Alabama beats them in Tuscaloosa Tuesday night.

Central Michigan (7-8, 2-1 MAC RPI: 216) - The Chippewas have been playing some good basketball of late. Though they lost at Western Michigan 70-61 on Saturday, they had won three in a row over Alcorn State, Toledo, and Ball State. Unfortunately, the MAC is a weak conference and we played three MAC teams.

Wake Forest (12-3, 2-1 ACC RPI 27) - Even though the Demon Deacons lost an ACC game last week at Miami, they are still a solid win in our pocket. Their last three wins have all been in overtime, but they are wins over good teams in Richmond, Xavier, and Maryland. This is a team getting some heft from playing some good mid-majors. They go to Duke and North Carolina this week, so if they win a pair that will help us tremendously.

Buffalo (9-4, 2-0 MAC RPI: 92) - Surprisingly, this is a top 100 win for us, so it is helping our profile. It will only stay that way if Buffalo does well in MAC play. They started 2-0 with wins over Miami and Bowling Green. Things can't be that bad if we have a MAC school giving us legitimate help. They have won six of seven since we beat them, losing only to Jacksonville.

Valparaiso (8-11, 3-4 Horizon RPI: 224) - The Crusaders took out Cleveland State in conference play this week, who very nearly beat West Virginia right before we played them. Valpo is playing well at home (6-1), but are awful away from home.

Alabama (11-6, 1-2 SEC RPI: 87) - It is looking a lot better that we came back and won this. Alabama has not started SEC play well, losing to Arkansas and Vanderbilt, but winning at LSU. They host Tennessee this week in a game that they need more than the Vols. Losing at Arkansas hurts, as they are 8-9 overall.

Ball State (6-8, 0-2 MAC RPI: 258) - I can't seem to figure out the Cardinals. They should be better than they are. Instead, they have lost three straight to Dayton, Northern Illinois, and Central Michigan. We're not likely to get any help from them, so thanks a lot, Wooden Tradition.

SIU-Edwardsville (2-15 RPI 321) - Only 26 teams in college basketball have a worse RPI than the Cougars. They are currently on a nine game losing streak and have no one of note on their schedule. Their RPI is more likely to drop than rise.

West Virginia - (13-3, 4-2 Big East RPI: 11) - Don't tell Digger, but the Mountaineers might be a tad overrated. They have lost 3 of 5 now, falling short in a furious comeback at home against Syracuse Saturday. They have fewer wins (1) over ranked teams than we do (2). They play two non-conference games this week at Marshall and at home against Ohio State. To help us, they have two games against Villanova and two games against a red-hot Pittsburgh coming up. They are struggling as much as we are, losing to good teams, but I bet they don't fall as far as us.