In the wake of last night's victory we can officially begin talking about a return to the NCAA Tournament. Even if Purdue only wins the games it absolutely should win that are left on the non-conference schedule (North Florida, IPFW, Arkansas State, Gardner-Webb) and loses the other two power 5 conference games (Vanderbilt and Notre Dame) the Boilers will be 10-3 entering the conference season with a pair of quality wins. That is enough to at least be in consideration for the NCAA Tournament with a 9-9 or 10-8 Big Ten record, which is this team's goal.
The last two seasons Purdue has been undone by some losses to mediocre at best Power 5 teams (Oregon State and Washington State). This year we dodged the Missouri trap (though Vanderbilt doesn't look too strong) and bagged two really good wins now in BYU and NC State. Those have really boosted Purdue's profile.
Purdue current RPI: 59
Purdue current KenPom: 36
Samford - 3-5, 0-0 SoCon, RPI: 294, KenPom: 310 - With numbers in the high 200s/low 300s there is not going to be a lot of value here, but this is a young, improving team. They won Monday night 76-70 in overtime vs. Jacksonville and they also beat UMKC, who beat Missouri. Their best chance for a respectable win is at Wake Forest on December 14.
IUPUI - 2-4, 0-0 Summit, RPI: 269, KenPom: 313 - The Hoosiermakers are at least better than last season. They knocked off Ball State 71-69 in overtime last week. They have some scrappy losses to Georgia State and Indiana State, who are both pretty good in their own right. The Sycamores are a possible NCAA team and IUPUI took them to overtime.
Grambling State - 1-4, 0-0 MEAC, RPI: 311, KenPom 351 - KenPom continues to view them as the worst team in America. Their swing through Indiana ended 0-3 with a 52 point loss to Purdue, 42 point loss to Ball State, and 27 point loss to Notre Dame. They are at Air Force tonight and they still have beatings scheduled at Oregon State, Washington, and TCU.
Kansas State - 4-3, 0-0 Big 12, RPI: 118, KenPom: 66 - The Wildcats did us no favors after beating us in Maui. They lost a tight game to Arizona, then were drilled by Pittsburgh. Last night they did beat Nebraska-Omaha 84-66, but we are still their best win. They have an interesting game this weekend at Tennessee.
Missouri - 4-3, 0-0 SEC, RPI: 158, KenPom: 126 - I would really like to see Missouri climb into the top 100 in both the RPI and KenPom, but I don't know. Last night they barely survived Southeast Missouri State 65-61 and they already have a loss to UMKC. Also, their win on Maui over Chaminade doesn't even count toward the RPI. There are some good non-conference games coming up for them to improve their profile, starting Friday at Oklahoma. They also have Xavier, Illinois, and Oklahoma State scheduled.
BYU - 6-2, 0-0 WCC, RPI: 9, KenPom: 44 - The RPI LOVES BYU, probably because they have allegedly played the second toughest schedule in America so far. Since losing to Purdue they beat Eastern Kentucky at home and Utah State on the road. How they have the No. 2 schedule is beyond me when they have two non-DI wins over Southern Virginia and Chaminade. Upcoming they have Utah, Stanford, and UMass. They also still lead the nation in scoring at 95.1 points per game and we're the only team that held them under 90 (even playing an extra five minutes).
North Carolina State - 6-1, 0-0 ACC, RPI: 37, KenPom: 57 - As long as they don't tank in the ACC last night's win will have a ton of mileage, unlike beating Boston College last year or Clemson two years ago. The Wolfpack already has nice wins over Boise State and Richmond who are both top 50 RPI teams right now. Saturday this will open ACC play at home against Wake Forest. In non-conference play they have a home game against Tennessee and a neutral site game against undefeated West Virginia later. Cincinnati also visits them.
North Florida - 4-3, 0-0 Atlantic Sun, RPI: 89, KenPom: 196 - The RPI seems to like North Florida as much as it does BYU. The mighty Ospreys have two non-DI victories and have only beaten Liberty and Elon as D-I teams. Their best result is a two-point loss at Northwestern. They have a brutal 6-game road trip between December 17 and January 2 that has stops at Florida State, Iowa, and Alabama.
IPFW - 3-2, 0-0 Summit, RPI: 300, KenPom: 191 - The other Hoosiermakers are still one of the favorites to win the Summit League autobid, but their last game was a disappointing loss at Dartmouth. Yeah, Dartmouth has been to two National Championship games, but they are 1-3 and haven't been to the NCAAs since 1959. A better result was a nine-point loss at Georgia Tech. They are decent, but only help Purdue if they win the Summit League. We are by far the toughest team they play.
Arkansas State - 1-2, 0-0 Sun Belt, RPI: 350, KenPom: 250 - The Red Wolves have played some of the fewest games in the country, losing to Tennessee-Martin by 2 on November 17, Lamar by 5 on November 25, and beating Central Arkansas on December 1. They have so many backloaded games that their RPI has to go up.
Vanderbilt - 5-1, 0-0 SEC, RPI: 165, KenPom: 82 - I don't know what to make of Vanderbilt. They have beaten some cupcakes and have a respectable win over LaSalle, but they lost to Rutgers by 3 last weekend. Tomorrow night they host Baylor in a game that can give them more strength, but man, they lost to Rutgers, who has a series of bad losses to go with WTF wins over Vanderbilt and Clemson.
Notre Dame - 6-1, 0-0 ACC, RPI: 205, KenPom: 41 - We're going to end up watching the ACC a lot this season if we beat the Irish. Their lone loss was by a point to Providence on a neutral floor. Their only win of note has been over UMass. Tonight they host Michigan State in a game that should tell us a lot about both teams.
Gardner-Webb - 3-4, 0-0 Big South, RPI: 51, KenPom: 190 - One of their wins was a non-D1 win, but they do own a major conference victory with a win over Clemson in the Paradise Jam. Last night they were down only 1 at No. 3 Arizona with 15 minutes left before the Wildcats went on a big run to close it out. I am not sure what has their RPI so high, but we're the strongest team they have left to play.