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Non-Conference Opponents Update: January 16

Thanks again to everyone that came out on Saturday in support of JJ and E`Twaun. It was a great night and I hope everyone enjoyed themselves.

As it turned out, the weekend was a big one for us even without playing. Minnesota picked up two wins, one of them at Indiana, to help our profile. We also now have a win over the co-leader in the Big Ten in Illinois, making us the only team to defeat the Fighting Illini in league play. Iowa is continuing their surprising run, which I am totally fine with as long as we take care of business at home Tuesday night.

It is making the Big Ten race for bids look very interesting. I would say only Penn State and Nebraska don't have a realistic shot at getting an at large bid. I would argue that Iowa, if they continue their strong run of play, can get into the at large argument if they get something crazy like 10-12 wins in league play. The Big Ten is strong enough this year that anyone close to .500 is going to have multiple top 50 wins, thus they will be in the at large discussion.

As for our own profile, we got a boost with Minnesota's surge. The Golden Gophers are now at No. 38 in the RPI, giving us a very solid road victory. Iowa's run has them creeping toward the top 100, but Butler's home loss to Cleveland State toppled them over the 100 (and "bad loss" mark). Miami is holding firm, but they have a nice stretch of mediocre in the ACC to get on a run and get into the top 50.

Record: 13-5, 3-2 Big Ten (No. 1 RPI conference)

RPI: 48 (according to CBS Sports)

Top 25 RPI wins: Illinois (16), Temple (23) (neutral)

Top 50 RPI wins: Iona (35) (neutral), at Minnesota

Bad Losses (sub 100 teams): Butler (102) (neutral), Penn State (143)

Northern Illinois Huskies - 2-13, 1-2 MAC West, RPI: 334 - Someone break up the Huskies! They now have a win over a Division I opponent when they beat Central Michigan 74-66 on Saturday. They are still considered one of the 10 worst teams in the country, but last week they were at 340 out of 343. any progress for them with an incredibly young team is good, but I doubt we will see them come out of the 300's all year.

High Point Panthers - 7-10, 3-4 Big South, RPI: 260 - Once again, we dodged a huge bullet in this one. The Panthers earned a win over perennial Big South tournament team Winthrop last Thursday, but they lost by seven at home against conference leader UNC-Asheville on Saturday. Asheville is currently 7-0 atop their league, but it is not like this is a conference in danger of getting an at large bid.

Iona Gaels - 14-4, 6-1 MAAC, RPI: 35 - Iona stumbled for the first time in their conference last week, losing at home against Manhattan 75-72. Manhattan is at least a respectable team that can challenge in their conference though. I'd say Iona can have one more stumble before their at large chances are in seriously jeopardy. They rebounded to beat second place Loyola (MD) over the weekend and still lead the MAAC by one game. One win carrying a surprising amount of weight for them is Denver, but they also beat Maryland, Richmond, and St. Joesph's.

Temple Owls - 11-5, 1-2 Atlantic 10, RPI: 23 - Temple did beat St. Louis 72-67 last week, but they fell to Richmond over the weekend to go to 1-2 in the Atlantic 10. This conference is still going to be a multi-bid league. Nine teams have already reached at least 11 wins, so it means that there are several chances for respectable wins throughout. Still, I would like to see the Owls generate some consistency, as they are 2-2 since upsetting Duke.

Alabama Crimson Tide - 13-4, 2-1 SEC, RPI: 21 - I still label this game as the only one in which we did not beat ourselves, and I have to give Alabama massive trolling credit for cheering when LSU crossed midcourt last week. They went on to beat LSU, but lost a four point road game to ranked Mississippi State. This is still a solid tournament team unless the bottom falls out.

Western Michigan Broncos - 8-9, 2-1 MAC West, RPI: 126- WMU is getting a lot of credit for playing a brutal early schedule, and they earned two wins last week in conference play over Northern Illinois and Toledo. As we know, the win over Northern Illinois is not much, but Western michigan could get on a bit of a run and squeeze into the top 100.

Coppin St. Eagles - 8-9, 3-1 MEAC, RPI: 213 - Coppin State defeated South Carolina State and Hampton to move into third place in the MEAC. Savannah State is 4-1 in the league and has handed Coppin State their only league loss. Norfolk State is undefeated in the conference at 5-0 and is the only team in the league with a winning record overall at 13-5.

Miami Hurricanes - 9-6, 0-2 ACC, RPI: 60 - The ‘Canes had the weekend off in ACC play and lost a midweek game at North Carolina. Still, they have a nice run right now where they can establish themselves as an NCAA-worthy team. They have Clemson, NC State, at Georgia Tech, at Boston College, and Maryland in their next five games. That is the creamy nougat middle of the ACC, so Miami needs to make a run and their RPI will rise in kind.

Xavier Musketeers - 12-5, 3-1 Atlantic 10, RPI: 43 - The X-men zipped up Duquesne and St. Boneventure this week to move to 3-1 in league play, so it looks like they have righted their ship somewhat. They face the same prospects as Temple in that their at large profile should be fine as long as they don't totally collapse. This week they face St. Joseph's and Dayton, giving them two more chances at good wins.

Western Carolina Catamounts - 8-10, 3-3 Southern, RPI: 198 - WCU's chances in the Southern Conference took a major hit with losses to Davidson and Furman, so they are no longer leading their division. They sit a half game behind Elon in the North Division, but this is a conference tournament or bust league for everyone except maybe Davidson, who has a stellar road win at Kansas.

Eastern Michigan Eagles - 7-10, 2-1 MAC West, RPI: 196 - EMU lost in the midweek to Central Michigan, but they won this weekend over conference leader Ball State. This really only served to show that the MAC is as cannibalistic as the Big Ten, but with just one conference bid. They face Western Michigan and Toledo this week and will try to gain separation from a four way tie for the lead in their division.

Butler Bulldogs - 10-9, 4-3 Horizon, RPI: 102 - Butler suffered a crippling 76-69 home loss to Cleveland State Friday night, but the Vikings then lost on Sunday to throw this league in further disarray. Milwaukke leads at 6-1 (their only loss was to Butler), but Cleveland State, Valparaiso, Youngstown State (whom Butler beat on Sunday), and Butler are all right there. The winner of the regular season gets to host the conference tournament and the top two teams only need two wins to get the auto-bid, so a lot is at stake here.

IPFW Mastodons - 9-8, 3-5 Summit, RPI: 249 - IPFW only played once this last week, losing at home to Oakland to fall to seventh in their conference. Really, this is of very little use to us except for the fact we avoided a bad loss.