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2015 NCAA Basketball KenPom Preseason Rankings

The early KenPom rankings confirm what we already knew: Purdue plays a ridiculously tough schedule this season.

Mike McGinnis

As a quick aside, I know almost nothing about KenPom's rankings. I know they are getting more popular and they involve things like Effective Field Goal percentage (which is somehow not "a made field goal is effective and a missed one is not"), but that's about it. Last night the first rankings were out and here were some of the more important things I took from it:

Teams Purdue plays - We're going to have a ridiculously tough schedule, as it is loaded with top 50 teams:

5. Arizona (possible opponent in Maui)

6. Wisconsin (true road game)

12. Michigan State (true road game)

14. Ohio State (home and home, so two games)

15. Michigan (Mackey Arena only)

23. Pittsburgh (possible opponent in Maui)

26. Indiana (home and home, so two games)

29. San Diego State (possible opponent in Maui)

31. Kansas State (definite opponent in Maui)

32. Iowa (Mackey Arena only)

33. Maryland (Mackey Arena only)

34. Nebraska (Mackey Arena only)

37. Minnesota (home and home, so two games)

38. Illinois (home and home, so two games)

40. Purdue (Hey, that's us!)

43. BYU (possible opponent in Maui)

Holy crap that is rough! Purdue is 40th in the nation, but 11th in the Big Ten ahead of only Penn State, Rutgers, and Northwestern. That's 15 guaranteed games against top 50 teams, possibly 17 (assuming the other two Maui games are against anyone not named Missouri or Chaminade), plus at least one Big Ten Tournament game likely against a top 50. So 15 out of Purdue's 31 are against tough teams.

It's not like the other 16 games are against cupcakes. Penn State (No. 56), North Carolina State (No. 60), Notre Dame (No. 69), Northwestern (No. 77), Vanderbilt (No. 91) and Missouri (No. 98) are all in the top 100. Missouri is the only one we're not guaranteed to play, but we're getting either them or Arizona, so that means six more are against the top 100, bringing us to 22 of 31 opponents being top 100 (i.e. good) teams.

Where are the cupcakes? - Purdue has nine other games, mostly in the non-conference portion, that would likely be anchors if the Boilers dropped any of them. Rutgers, who we play twice, is the lowest rated Big Ten team at No. 103, so they could easily crack the top 100 later. After that, there is a big drop for the final seven opponents. The next best team Purdue plays is Arkansas State at No. 213. IPFW at No. 220 is one of the favorites in the Summit League, so they could be an NCAA team.

Gardner-Webb (No, 241), North Florida (No. 247), IUPUI (No. 324), Samford (No. 333), and Grambling State (No. 351) round out the schedule. It should be noted that if Purdue plays Chaminade in Maui it is virtually a ghost game. It counts nothing if we win, but in the unlikely event of a loss, well, it probably won't matter in the end of we lose to a D-II school. It would be much better to play BYU, Pitt, or San Diego State in the third game out there.

Sub.-300 teams do very little and sometimes even winning those games hurt. Fortunately, Purdue only has three of them on the schedule, but Grambling State at 351 sits dead last in the country. Honestly, these games shouldn't even be competitive if we're truly a top 50 team.

But what does it all mean, Basil? - I'll be damned if I know, other than that Pomeroy thinks Purdue, in a vacuum, should be close to being an NCAA Tournament team. Of course, there is no way that the conference gets 11 teams into the dance. Even if Rutgers, Northwestern, and Penn State lose every game outside of the ones they play against each other I doubt there are going to be 11 9-9 or better teams unless everyone is so closely packed the Big Ten becomes completely cannibalistic with like an 11-7 champion. Fortunately, we play those three "weaker" teams four times total.

At least before the season starts the advanced stats seem to favor Purdue and the schedule is there with at minimum 21 top-100 games and more likely 23 as long as we avoid Chaminade in Maui and Rutgers in the Big Ten Tournament. We also know that the conference is going to be ridiculously tough, but not impossible. Purdue is 11th at No. 40, but has five teams in the league within 10 spots above them (plus Kansas State at 31).