As you can see in today's update, the myth that Purdue has played or will play a weak non-conference schedule is patently false. As things currently stand, the Boilers already have four top 50 RPI wins in eight games. Now, admittedly, one of those will not stay in the top 50. Incarnate Word is currently No. 39 in the RPI, but that is because they have played just two Division I teams (which are the only ones that count for RPI purposes). By playing just Purdue and Oklahoma their profile is skewed.
As for the rest of the profile, Florida, New Mexico, and Pittsburgh are very, very good wins. Pittsburgh gets the boost of being a true road game, while Florida coming on a neutral floor is better than at home. It also helps those three teams are a combined 16-4 with three of the four losses coming at the hands of Purdue.
Those are three legitimate at large possibilities for the NCAA Tournament, and Purdue has two more coming up. That's five teams out of 13 that not only could play in March, but they would play as at large selections. Anything that the other eight opponents do (and Old Dominion, Lehigh, and Vermont could easily be auto-bid candidates) is gravy.
Purdue will head into conference play as a tested team, and they still haven't won a game by less than 12 points! It is really nice to look at this weekly feature as a way to get a higher seed rather than simply reach the NCAA Tournament.
RPI top 50 wins: Incarnate Word, Florida (neutral floor), at Pittsburgh, New Mexico
KenPom top 50 wins: Florida (neutral floor), at Pittsburgh
North Carolina A&T (RPI: 248, KenPom: 303) - 3-7, 1-0 MEAC - North Carolina A&T has a surprisingly good week, earning their first three wins of the season. They were all also over Division I teams. They topped Northern Kentucky, UNC-Greensboro, and Howard in relatively close games. The win over Howard was their first conference game, too. They can move to 2-0 in the MEAC tonight if they knock off Maryland-Eastern Shore.
Vermont (RPI: 143, KenPom: 141) - 4-5, 0-0 America East - Vermont took on a pair of Ivy League teams and beat Dartmouth, but lost to Yale on Saturday night. Their next two games come against St. Bonaventure and UC-Santa Barbara, who are least top 100 teams. A couple of wins there would give them a good profile boost that might get them into top 100.
Incarnate Word (RPI: 39, KenPom: 246) - 3-2, 0-0 Southland - As mentioned above, the RPI loves Incarnate Word for simply playing Oklahoma and Purdue. They will drop like a stone there soon enough, as they have no more games against major conference teams. They did beat Dallas Christian, a non-D1 team), this week 108-71. In reality their RPI will likely be somewhere around their KenPom number.
Old Dominion (RPI: 201, KenPom: 87) - 4-4, 0-0 Conference USA - The at large hope of ODU appear to be dead after they fell to William & Mary 55-48 last Tuesday. They responded to bet Delaware State 82-38 over the weekend, but they don't have the schedule to get any other good out of conference wins. Only No. 37 Richmond offers any type of schedule heft.
Florida (RPI: 8, KenPom: 23) - 6-1, 0-0 SEC - Speaking of Richmond, the Gators beat the Spiders 76-56 for their own top 50 win this week. They also added a 70-50 win over Florida Gulf Coast to move to a comfortable 6-1. They have a chance for a very, very good win tomorrow night when they travel to a ranked Miami. They also play at Michigan State on Saturday, giving Purdue an opportunity to see how they measure up against one of the other conference favorites.
Lehigh (RPI: 290, KenPom: 213) - 1-7, 0-0 Patriot League - Lehigh finally got a win... over Rochester College. That leaves the Mountain Hawks still searching for a win over a Division I team. If it doesn't come Thursday night over Robert Morris they likely won't win a game outside of conference play outside of the aforementioned win over Rochester College.
Pittsburgh (RPI: 30, KenPom: 33) - 6-1, 0-0 ACC - After Thursday's loss to Purdue the Panthers won their intra-city game with Duquesne (at the home of the Pittsburgh Penguins) and had a 100-47 win over Central Arkansas. They have a very interesting game coming up against Davidson in New York that would be a nice non-conference win.
New Mexico (RPI: 31, KenPom: 65) - 5-2, 0-0 Mountain West - The Lobos got about a 40 point RPI boost simply by playing Purdue. This is still a team that can get an at large bid, as they have some interesting out of conference games left. They play Northern Iowa (who beat North Carolina) this coming Saturday. They also have the 8-team diamond Head Classic in Honolulu over Christmas where they can get some solid victories. They start that event with Auburn, and their second game will be against BYU or Harvard. The third and final game would come against Oklahoma, Washington State, Hawaii, or Northern Iowa, so a plausible run to the final and a game against Oklahoma would really help us.
IUPUI (RPI: 275, KenPom 260) - 3-6, 0-0 Summit League - As mentioned in the preview, IUPUI hasn't really beaten anyone of note. Beating Miami (OH) is nice, but their next test (aside from tonight) is at Butler on December 28. Because they play their home games at the Fairgrounds Coliseum that might be the extremely rare opportunity to play a road game closer to their campus than their home games.
Howard (RPI: 231, KenPom: 238) - 5-3, 0-1 MEAC - Howard dropped its conference opener at North Carolina A&T, but they have a decent win over William & Mary, something that Old Dominion can't say. Tonight is their second conference game and it comes against North Carolina Central.
Youngstown State (RPI: 279, KenPom: 259) - 4-5, 0-0 Horizon League - The Penguins had a split week with a win over Robert Morris (who is terrible) and a loss to American (who is not much better). This is going to be a boring Saturday blowout.
Butler (RPI: 38, KenPom: 28) - 6-1, 0-0 Big East - The Bulldogs got an excellent win on Wednesday night when they won at Cincinnati on a last second shot. They followed that up with a win at Hinkle over Indiana State. Tonight they host VMI, but Tennessee comes to Hinkle Saturday afternoon for their last game before the Crossroads Classic.
Vanderbilt (RPI: 29, KenPom: 12) - 6-2, 0-0 SEC - The Commodores blasted Detroit by 50 points on Wednesday for their midweek win, beating them 102-52. They had a great chance at a nice road win, but lost to Baylor last night 69-67 after blowing a late lead. They get another test on Wednesday this week when they host Dayton.