A new year brings a new looks at Purdue's path to the NCAA Tournament. Warrennolan.com, which tracks RPI real-time as games finish, is a great way to see what Purdue has done and what it has before it. As we know, the Boilers are 10-4 and 0-1 in the Big Ten after yesterday's loss to West Virginia. Its best win is against No. 52 Eastern Michigan, while Washington State remains as the worst loss. The overall RPI of 100 will rise dramatically as 13 of the next 17 games are against the top 100, while only four of the first 14 games were against the top 100.
Overall, The Big Ten has a conference RPI of 2, and all those teams playing each other will only bring everyone else up. I still feel pretty safe in saying that a 10-8 Big Ten finish and a win on day 1 of the Big Ten Tournament will probably be enough. It will be tough to finish with a winning record in the No. 2 RPI conference and not make the NCAA Tournament.
Meanwhile, Purdue continues to hope its non-conference wins get some value.
Northern Kentucky (4-9, 0-1 Atlantic Sun) - RPI: 288, KenPom: 302 - The Norse are now in Atlantic Sun play and they had a nice three-game winning streak over Chattanooga, Hampton, and Navy before dropping their last two games to North Carolina and Florida Gulf Coast. They actually played the Tar Heels well, losing 75-60. Unfortunately, they have just two games left against the current top 100, which are both against No. 59 Mercer.
Central Connecticut State (4-8, 0-0 Northeast) - RPI: 315, KenPom: 267 - CCSU had only one Division I game since the last update and it was a three-point loss to Coastal Carolina. They did get a three-point victory over Albertus Magnus College, but that is a non-Division I game so it does not count for RPI purposes. This is one of the weaker wins Purdue has, as they have only two teams in the current top 100 on their entire schedule: Purdue and Ohio State.
Rider (6-5, 2-0 MAAC) - RPI: 132, KenPom: 190 - Rider has an excellent chance at winning its conference and becoming a 15 of 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They beat Penn but lost at Villanova since the last update and they will soon fully enter MAAC play. Manhattan is the highest rated team in the MAAC at No. 49 and Rider gets them twice. Rider has the No. 3RPI in the conference behind Manhattan and Canisius.
Eastern Illinois (4-8, 1-0 Ohio Valley) - RPI: 316, KenPom: 318 - The good news is that EIU is in first place after winning their conference opener. The bad news is that it came by a single point over Tennessee State, who is winless against Division I teams. A pair of Eastern Illinois' wins have come against non-DI programs and the team is now 0-3 against the state of Indiana after losing to Purdue, Indiana State, and IPFW.
Siena (5-8, 1-1 MAAC) - RPI: 202, KenPom: 221 - At least Purdue's double win in non-conference play is creeping towards the top 200. Siena won both of its last two games over Hofstra and Fordham and is now on a three game winning streak. MAAC play starts again for them tomorrow and on Saturday they play Rider in a game that, well, I don't know exactly what it does for our profile.
Oklahoma State (12-1, 0-0 Big 12) - RPI: 12, KenPom: 3 - Oklahoma State rolled through its non-conference at 12-1 and will begin Big 12 play this weekend. They even picked up a very nice recent win over Colorado. This is a strong team that is already an NCAA lock barring a complete collapse with wins over Memphis, Butler, and Colorado before even starting Big 12 play. The good news is that sense they play West Virginia twice any win by WVU would boost us.
Washington State (7-5, 0-0 Pac-12) - RPI: 136, KenPom: 117 - The Cougars got a non-DI win over San Francisco State and then a DI win over Mississippi Valley State, but a loss at home UTEP was a killer. They go to Arizona tomorrow night to open Pac-12 play and a victory would really help us out. Arizona is one of the last undefeated teams in the country.
Boston College (4-10, 0-1 ACC) - RPI: 154, KenPom: 156 - It is bad for us when Boston University is considered a better team than Boston College. Only three BC wins are against DI competition and they have now lost their last six games to DI opponents. At least they have played good opponents, as those losses were to Purdue, USC, Maryland, Auburn, VCU, and Harvard. VCU and Harvard are both excellent mid-majors that blew them out 69-50 and 73-58, respectively. At least this helped the Big Ten win the Challenge.
Eastern Michigan (7-5, 0-0 MAC) - RPI: 52, KenPom: 138 - Eastern Michigan already has two non-DI wins and their next game on Saturday is also a non-DI game against Rochester. Fortunately, their profile was boosted by losses at Duke and Syracuse. They enter the MAC portion of the schedule as the No. 2 RPI team in the league behind No. 40 Toledo and have a real shot of being the league champion. They get Toledo twice after February 15 and if they can string some wins together his can become a top 50 win.
Butler (10-3, 0-1 Big East) - RPI: 50, KenPom: 52 - Butler saw a modest five-game winning streak get snapped when they dropped their opening Big East game at home against Villanova last night. The teams they have lost to are a combined 33-4, so they have no bad losses and will likely make the NCAA Tournament once again if they fare well in Big East play. They have a couple of nice non-conference wins over Princeton and Vanderbilt.
Maryland-Eastern Shore (2-9, 0-0 MEAC) - RPI: 324, KenPom: 342 - As expected, the Hawks rank as one of the worst teams in the nation. KenPom only rates 351 teams and UMES is in the bottom 10. They are also one of the lowest rated teams in the RPI. They have suffered the indignity of a loss to a non-DI team, as Wilmington University beat them 65-62. Most of their remaining games are against sub-200 teams.
West Virginia (8-5, 0-0 Big 12) - RPI: 115, KenPom: 60 - The Mountaineers finished their non-conference season with a comfortable win over William & Mary and start Big 12 play on Saturday against TCU. This is a team that will likely climb into the top 100 with a decent Big 12 season and that helps Purdue, as the Boilers will get a small boost since it was a true road victory. Only Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan State, Illinois, Minnesota, Northwestern, and Penn State got a true road win in non-conference play.