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Non-Conference Opponents Update: February 20

Another week, another split. That is the mantra here, both for Purdue and for the non-conference opponents on our resume. At least we know that if we draw two more splits, making us 2-2 in our final four games, we're probably going to be safe on Selection Sunday. If that 2-2 involves wins over Penn State and Nebraska it would probably be wise of us to win our opening round game in the Big Ten Tournament. Right now we're looking at about a sixth place finish if we split, and that likely means a first round game against Nebraska, Illinois, or Penn State. Winning that game serves three purposes:

  1. It gets us a precious 20th win and 10th against Big Ten competition.
  2. It avoids a dreaded "bad loss" being hung on us as our last impression.
  3. It gives us one more chance for a good win in the Big Ten Tourney quarterfinals.

Personally, I think we go 3-1 in our final four to make the Big Ten Tournament totally irrelevant, but I stand by my assessment of wins over Nebraska and Penn State at home will be enough. It won't be the prettiest resume, but this year enough is, well, enough. Yesterday was only a missed opportunity, and we have plenty of opportunities still ahead while still being on the happy side of the Bubble. We're going to upset Michigan or Indiana on the road. I can feel it.

Record: 17-10, 7-7 Big Ten (No. 1 RPI conference)

RPI: 53 (according to CBS Sports)

Top 25 RPI wins: Temple (16) (neutral)

Top 50 RPI wins: at Northwestern (43), Miami (FL) (47), Iona (44) (neutral), Northwestern (43)

Record vs. Top 50: 5-7 (1-6 vs. top 25)

Bad Losses (sub 100 teams): Butler (113) (neutral), at Penn State (133)

Northern Illinois Huskies - 3-22, 2-10 MAC West, RPI: 334 - Once again, we get no help from the Huskies, who have fallen back into the bottom 10 of teams in the entire country RPI-wise. This past week they lost to Western Michigan and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. Just by playing this game, we lost, and it is very unfortunate we couldn't get someone like UCLA, who sucks but at least is a major conference opponent, to play in the Mackey Rededication game. Hell, Wabash College might have been better.

High Point Panthers -11-17, 7-10 Big South, RPI: 281 - Could this be out biggest win to date? Allow me to explain. Yes, we barely held on against an awful team, but if we drop this game there is very little question that we're in a much worse position right now. Finding a way to win this really helps at the moment, because it can be forgotten early in the season rather than be an ugly blot on the resume. This week High Point beat Radford at home before losing to Stephen F. Austin in the BracketBusters.

Iona Gaels - 22-6, 13-3 MAAC, RPI: 44 - One of the biggest winners in the BracketBusters was Iona, who knocked off a good Nevada team at home 90-84 and climbed back into the top 50 RPI-wise. They have two more games against Fairfield (16-11, 11-4) and St. Peter's (5-23, 4-12) both at home this week before the MAAC Tournament. Iona is a viable at large team if they lose in the conference tournament final to Loyola (MD), but they still want to get the auto-bid to totally be safe. Look for them to be a bastard of a 12 or 13 seed for someone.

Temple Owls - 21-5, 10-2 Atlantic 10, RPI: 16 - To those who say we can't beat a ranked team I say suck it! The Owls will likely crack the top 25 this week (Finally!) and they have more than enough good wins (Duke, Wichita State, St. Louis, Xavier) to get in. They won at St. Bonaventure and at home against Duquesne to move to 10-2 in the A-10 and have now won 10 in a row. They also own the tiebreakers over their two closest rivals in the A-10.

Alabama Crimson Tide - 17-9, 6-6 SEC, RPI: 40 - This team continues to labor without JaMychal Green. They lost at Florida by nine last week but beat Cuonzo Martin's Tennessee team on Sunday by 12. Remember, we'll be judged as losing to them at full strength, so that helps. As it is, they are cruising directly towards Bubble land.

Western Michigan Broncos - 11-16, 5-7 MAC West, RPI: 186 - WMU continues to be exactly what they are: a bad MAC team. They beat Northern Illinois but lost to North Dakota State of the Summit League in the BracketBusters on Saturday. Like a lot of our wins, this is no help at all.

Coppin St. Eagles - 13-13,8-5 MEAC, RPI: 256 - Coppin State drops an astounding 30 points this week after beating Maryland-Eastern Shore but losing to Howard. Savannah State has now taken over their league's lead at 17-10, 10-2.

Miami Hurricanes - 16-9, 7-5 ACC, RPI: 47 - Miami is another team right on the Bubble, and they had North Carolina on the ropes a bit before falling in a game that was a little similar to our loss to Michigan State. At least they handled their business Saturday against Wake Forest. This team has four games left. They need to win at Maryland tomorrow and Saturday's game at home against Florida State is gigantic. Win both and the Canes are likely fine with a split in the final two (at North Carolina State and home against Boston College). Since I'll be in Miami and I am a basketball addict I will likely go to that Boston College game.

Xavier Musketeers - 17-9, 8-4 Atlantic 10, RPI: 54 - The X-men had one game last week and it was an important 86-83 overtime win over Dayton. That gave them some separation in the A-10, moving them to third behind Temple and St. Louis. This is probably a tournament team as long as they win three of their last four.

Western Carolina Catamounts - 12-17, 6-10 Southern, RPI: 252 - The Catamounts had a 2-0 week against the Citadel and Elon, winning the last game 78-76 in overtime. All it does is give WCU a little breathing room from the basement of its conference, however.

Eastern Michigan Eagles - 11-16, 6-6 MAC West, RPI: 227 - Eastern Michigan lost to Central Michigan by three and Wisconsin-Green Bay by five, but they still lead the MAC West. That just tells you how awful the MAC West is.

Butler Bulldogs - 17-12, 10-6 Horizon, RPI: 113 - Dig out your Butler shirts this week, because the Bulldogs are making the run we need them to. They crushed Indiana State in the BracketBusters after winning at home against Loyola (IL). With wins this week over Illinois-Chicago and Valparaiso they can get into the top 100, which is important because then they are not considered a "bad loss" anymore. Winning both games also might get them the No. 2 seed in the Horizon League Tourney, which puts them just two games away from the NCAAs. They would still need a Detroit loss and a Cleveland State loss to get there, but at least one of those will happen since Cleveland State plays Detroit on Thursday. The conference tournament would also be played nearby at Valparaiso in that scenario, with the final at Hinkle Fieldhouse if it is not against Valpo.

IPFW Mastodons - 10-17, 4-12 Summit, RPI: 283 - The Mastodons gave league leader Oral Roberts a game before falling 75-71 at home, but then lost their seventh straight and 11th of their last 12 at Eastern Kentucky, causing a riotous celebration by Danny Hope Saturday night. IPFW finishes this week at South Dakota and UMKC, likely needing to win both just to qualify for the Summit League Tournament.