I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, especially the basketball team. I want them to have found their mojo under the tree yesterday and come out like the team that played in Maui instead of the team we have seen over the last three games. I admit, I was harsh for calling them "gutless wonders" on Twitter during the Gardner Webb game, but we can all agree this team has lacked fire in the last three games, especially on the defensive end.
The non-conference season is complete, however, and the Boilers finished 8-5. In terms of the NCAA resume, Purdue got two good wins (BYU and NC State State), an intermediate win over a struggling major conference team (Missouri) and two very bad losses unless those teams win their respective conferences(North Florida and Gardner Webb). If you view the good wins canceling out the bad Purdue still has a chance, but it is likely going to need to go 12-6 against a weakened Big Ten. An 11-7 record might be enough with a couple of wins in Chicago too.
Both of those are possible, but unlikely. Again, from what I have seen I know Purdue is more than capable of winning 12 (or more) games in Big Ten play if it returns to playing well like it did for all but a half in Maui. It is also capable of getting swept by Rutgers if it plays like it has the past two weeks.
Purdue RPI: 148
Purdue KenPom: 85 (A 36 spot drop from last week)
Best wins: BYU (RPI 37, KenPom 45), NC State (RPI 60, KenPom 55)
Bad Losses: Vanderbilt (RPI: 124, KenPom 62), North Florida (RPI 146, KenPom 166)
Samford - 5-8, 0-2 SoCon, RPI: 329, KenPom: 320 - The Bulldogs are playing some better basketball with two straight wins after beating Louisiana-Monroe 64-50, but are still 0-2 in their conference. Their league play gets going full swing on January 3 against Wofford. Samford plays twice this weekend against Campbell and non-D1 Auburn-Montgomery.
IUPUI - 2-9, 0-0 Summit, RPI: 325, KenPom: 316 - The Jaguars just missed a decent win in the Gotham Classic when they lost 57-53 at Richmond, who is a top 60 RPI team. They did beat South Alabama, however, for their third victory of the season. There still is not a lot to this victory.
Grambling State - 2-8, 0-0 MEAC, RPI: 227, KenPom 351 - Grambling moves up almost 70 spots in the RPI, mostly because of who they played in No. 13 Washington and No. 82 TCU. They lost both by over 40 points and didn't even manage to score 40. Grambling remains the worst team in the nation according to KenPom by a large margin.
Kansas State - 7-4, 0-0 Big 12, RPI: 121, KenPom: 78 - Kansas State's only game since the last update was a good one as they picked up a solid non-conference neutral site win over Texas A&M 71-64. Next they get Texas Southern (who won at Michigan State) and Georgia before entering Big 12 play. At the very least, Kansas State should play their way up to not being a bad loss.
Missouri - 5-6, 0-0 SEC, RPI: 157, KenPom: 170 - It was a close game, but Missouri lost to Illinois 62-59 in St. Louis on Saturday. That's a decent win for the Big Ten and since Purdue is likely going to have to sweep the Illini to have any chance at the NCAAs, it gives us a little strength to look for in the conference season.
BYU - 10-3, 0-0 WCC, RPI: 37, KenPom: 45 - If Purdue does well enough in Big Ten play the victory over BYU will be of value. Right now it might even be an anchor for them. BYU got some very, very good wins over Stanford (79-77) and UMass (77-71) before they start conference play this Saturday against Gonzaga. As usual, the WCC is going to be a three-way race with Gonzaga, BYU, and St. Mary's. BYU has probably done enough that a runner-up finish would get them into the NCAAs.
North Carolina State - 10-3, 1-0 ACC, RPI: 60, KenPom: 55 - NC State played three times since the last update and got a nice win over Tennessee in the process. The 83-72 home win over the Vols was paired with a 73-65 win over Louisiana Tech. The third game was an 83-69 loss to an 11-1 West Virginia team in New York.
North Florida - 7-6, 0-0 Atlantic Sun, RPI: 146, KenPom: 166 - Any small at large hope for North Florida were ruined with a 93-77 loss at Florida State and 80-70 loss at Iowa. We really could have used the Ospreys winning both of those on the road. At least they beat a winless Florida A&M 85-65.
IPFW - 6-5, 0-0 Summit, RPI: 223, KenPom: 217 - IPFW has one more game, against a non-D1 foe, before beginning Summit League play. They dropped mid-major games to Valparaiso (75-72) and Illinois State (68-43) within the past week.
Arkansas State - 5-4, 0-0 Sun Belt, RPI: 269, KenPom: 184 - The Red Wolves are on a roll, especially after getting a major conference win at Mississippi State 69-55. Of course, MSU is coached by former Purdue assistant Paul Lusk, so the Purdue stink probably affected him in that loss. Arkansas State also beat Marshall 67-58 and Niagara 74-69.
Vanderbilt - 8-3, 0-0 SEC, RPI: 124, KenPom: 62 - Vanderbilt is doing well and could be an NCAA team if they do well in the SEC. They lost 65-60 at Georgia Tech, but closed out their home non-conference season with a 79-50 win over Pennsylvania. They travel to St. Louis this week for their last non-conference game.
Notre Dame - 12-1, 1-0 ACC, RPI: 103, KenPom: 24 - Notre Dame is the best team Purdue has played and they added a win over Northern Illinois (and Purdue transfer Anthony Johnson) on Monday night. They have one more non-conference game before getting back into ACC play with Georgia Tech.
Gardner-Webb - 8-5, 0-0 Big South, RPI: 72, KenPom: 173 -Amazingly, the Garner Webb RPI is not that bad and a run through the Big South could at least keep them in the top 100. I still cannot believe that we lost to a team that has a 68-65 loss to Jacksonville, who is 1-10 against Division I teams. Purdue probably could have survived one loss against either North Florida or Gardner Webb, but not both.