Purdue did not get into the NCAA Tournament with a 10-point win over an awful Rutgers team last night, but it did avoid a crippling blow to its already fragile resume. Sunday will be more of the same. A loss to Nebraska, especially in Mackey Arena, which Purdue has turned back into a fortress in B1G play (aside from the Maryland game), would probably spell the end of any NCAA hopes. As long as Purdue wins its last three home games it will at least be in the discussion on Selection Sunday.
So how does it match up with the rest of the Bubble? According to Joe Lunardi at ESPN Purdue was fifth-out going into today. Close enough to be discussed, but not close enough to be in. The larger Bubble Watch column earlier in the week confirmed what we all know: we have at least earned our way back into the discussion, but there is a lot of work to do still.
Of note is Syracuse self-imposing a postseason ban. The Orange would be an NCAA team right now, so them stepping out might open a spot.
Here are the teams Purdue is up against and what they have done lately:
Texas A&M (16-7, 7-4 SEC) - The Aggies lost an important home game on Wednesday against Georgia, who is also playing to get into the NCAAs. Georgia is probably a step up and solidly in right now, but Texas A&M is interesting to us because they also have a loss to Kansas State. They took Kentucky to double overtime and have no real bad losses, so they are in good shape.
Colorado State (21-4, 8-4 Mountain West) - Imagine how good they would be if they still had Jon Octeus? Their four losses are all in conference to possible NCAA teams, and a win over San Diego State this weekend can put them in first place. There are not any great non-conference wins, but there are no non-conference losses.
LSU (17-7, 6-5 SEC) - The Tigers could have punched their ticket with a win over Kentucky this week, but could not close it out. They are the first team with some blemishes here. They have lost to Clemson, Auburn, Missouri, and Mississippi State all with losing records overall. They did, at least, beat Gardner Webb 93-82 in their first game of the season. They have lost three of four, so they are falling.
Temple (18-7, 9-3 American) - Temple is hot, winning six straight after losing three in a row. They have a very nice non-conference win over Kansas. They are a game out of first behind Tulsa and SMU in their conference and play both next week. Unfortunately for them, they already lost to both at home.
Illinois (17-8, 7-5 Big Ten) - What a comeback by the Illini to get an important win last night over Michigan. They are the closest team to us in the conference to overtake for a spot. That's what makes the season finale at Mackey against them so important. We cannot afford to be swept by them if we're both on the Bubble. They also have a loss to fellow Bubble teams Miami and Oregon, but if they get to the magical 20/10 mark (20 overall wins, 10 B1G wins) they will likely be fine.
St. John's (16-8, 5-6 Big East) - No team with a losing record in their conference deserves an at large bid, so Gene Keady's team has some work to do. Can you imagine if we end up facing them in the play-in games in Dayton? They have been swept by Butler and have a critical game this weekend at Xavier. They are falling fast because they started 12-1, but have gone 4-7 since.
UCLA (15-10, 7-5 Pac-12) - The Bruins have no awful losses and have some very good ones to Gonzaga, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Utah. They also beat Utah or a good home win. Saturday is a huge game as fellow Bubble team Oregon comes to their gym and already has a win over them in Eugene.
Old Dominion (18-5, 7-4 C-USA) - They have some losses to mediocre teams in Illinois State, Middle Tennessee State, UAB, and Texas-San Antonio, but they have some good wins over VCU and LSU. What might hurt them is that they are currently fifth in Conference USA, with several tough games left.
Boise State (18-6, 8-3 Mountain West) - Boise is the first team out according to ESPN and they are in a highly competitive Mountain West, but they have won eight in a row. They lost to NC State in the non-conference and have two wins over non-D1 teams. A bad loss to Loyola (IL) stings, but this is still a team that can win their conference. They have beaten Colorado State, who is above on this list.
Miami (15-9, 5-6 ACC) - Meet the Purdue of the ACC. The Hurricanes also have two mid- to low-major losses to Green Bay by 13 and Eastern Kentucky by 28. Green Bay, at 20-5, could at least have a valid at large profile. As for the Hurricanes, they crushed Duke by 16 at Duke, won at Illinois, won at Florida, dropped a heartbreaker in double OT to Virginia, but have lost four of their last five, two by a total of three points to bad teams in Florida State and Clemson. They are doing everything possible to play out of the tourney.
Oregon (18-7, 8-4 Pac-12) - They have beaten Illinois and UCLA on this list and can sweep UCLA on Saturday. They have also lost to Washington and Washington State, who are near the bottom of the Pac-12. A home game on February 22 against No. 11 Utah could be huge.
Seton Hall (15-9, 5-7 Big East) - This is another team that could come crashing past Purdue. They have lost 6 of 8 and are now with a losing record in the Big East. This team started the year strong but, like St. John's is fading.
Purdue (16-9, 8-4 Big Ten) - Purdue is alive thanks to a surprising Big Ten season and, as we know too well, would likely be fine if not for Gardner Webb and North Florida. Those are two of the worst losses here. There is still a lot of work to do, but at least one more road win, given the opponents, would be huge.
Rhode Island (16-6, 8-3 Atlantic 10) - They started their run with a win at ranked Nebraska (yes, Nebraska was ranked at one point this year). There are no bad losses aside from St. Joseph's, which came this week. Their RPI is extremely close to Purdue's at 71 (Purdue is 70)
George Washington (17-7, 7-4 Atlantic 10) - GW and Rhode Island will have one eliminate the other, and it looks like Rhode Island will win. GW has lost three of four, including one to Duquesne this week. They also lost to Penn State by 13 and Seton Hall, listed above.
Davidson (16-7, 7-4 Atlantic 10) - Finally, we have another A-10 team, and they have games left against GW and Rhode Island. They don't have any great wins and a fairly low RPI at 70 too, so there is a very thin margin for error. Theirs, GW's, and Rhode Island's are thinner than Purdue's.