The good news is that Purdue is now on the good side of the Bubble in most brackets. In fact, it is so far on the good side that many are projecting the Boilers above the "Last Four In" teams that need to go to Dayton for the play-in games before the real tournament (and yes, they are play-in games, let's face it). There is still work to do though. As coach Painter said, you're only a lock if you can lose the rest of your games and still get in. If Purdue lost its final four regular season games and Big Ten Tournament opener it would most definitely be out, especially since one would be a terrible loss to Rutgers at home.
So yes, there is work to do. Is Purdue in as long as it beats Rutgers? Maybe, but that is tempting fate. Beat Rutgers and get one more? It depends on if that second win is in the regular season or an 11-14 seed in Chicago. The Boilers would likely be good that way though. Is Purdue in if it wins three more? Absolutely.
So the biggest key for Purdue is to win Thursday against Rutgers. It is the last chance for a "bad loss" unless one comes in Chicago. We have enough of those (four against sub-100 teams and Minnesota is close to being a fifth). In the meantime, here are the 16 Bubble teams according Bracket Matrix. The definition of Bubble Team for this and the remaining Bubble posts is the following: Last Four Bye teams, Last four in (Dayton games), Last Four Out, Next Four Out. I am using teams that Bracket Matrix predict will be at large teams, not auto-bid winners. Remember, this can be affected during championship week if someone not named Wichita State or Northern Iowa wins the MVC or if someone not named Gonzaga wins the WCC auto-bid. The first scenario definitely removes an at large bid from the pool and moves everyone down one (and all three of those teams would be seeded well ahead of Purdue). The second possibly removes one, as St. Mary's or BYU from the WCC might earn an at large, so them winning the WCC auto-bid might not remove an at large.
Last Four Byes:
Georgia (17-9, 8-6 SEC) - This is the "safest" team among the 16 here and they are pretty safe. The RPI is strong at 37 and the two sub-100 losses are to Auburn and Georgia Tech, who are at least major conference teams. They almost have five, as they have losses to No. 100 South Carolina (twice) and No. 96 Minnesota. The best wins are over Mississippi and Texas A&M.
LSU (19-8, 8-6 SEC) - This is another pretty strong team helped a lot by Clemson coming on of late and getting into the top 100. The RPI is 54 and they have three sub-100 losses, all in conference play to Missouri, Mississippi State, and Auburn, but the committee tends to view conference losses in a major conference as stronger. They are buoyed by the SEC being fairly strong overall. They play at Auburn tonight, and if they get that one they are likely pretty safe.
Texas A&M (19-7, 10-4 SEC) - This is not an all SEC list, I promise, but they are a lot like the Big Ten in that they have a lot of teams pretty close to the cut line. Texas A&M has been rather average. They have only one sub-100 loss (At No. 105 Kansas State), but they are 0-5 against the top 50. They have one more chance tonight at Arkansas, otherwise they are going to have a very average profile where nothing stands out.
North Carolina State (16-11, 7-7 ACC) - Yes, I understand your outrage when Purdue beat them, but let's keep this as a very good non-conference win. The truth is that NC State has better wins than Purdue's best wins (over Duke, at Louisville) and only one sub-100 loss (at Wake Forest). Even a loss that is normally a bad one, at home to Wofford, is to a team that is 50th in the RPI and may get an at large if needed out of the Southern Conference. The four non-conference losses were to probable NCAA teams in Purdue, Wofford, West Virginia, and Cincinnati. Of those, Purdue is probably the worst.
Last Four In:
Illinois (17-10, 7-7 Big Ten) - The Illini are slipping, but their RPI is still slightly ahead of Purdue (58 to 61) and they don't really have a "bad" loss. The worst is at Nebraska, which is before the Cornhuskers fell off a cliff. Non-conference wins over Oregon and Baylor are paying huge dividends for them, especially since Baylor is No. 14 in the RPI. If they win at Iowa on Wednesday they have home games they should win against Nebraska and Northwestern before coming to Purdue. If they take all three they will likely be fine before coming to West Lafayette. If they do go to Dayton we know that we will not be playing them there.
Oregon (20-8, 10-5 Pac-12) - It is strange that many of these teams have randomly played each other to help us figure this out some. Illinois lost to Oregon in Chicago in December, giving the Ducks a nice non-conference win. That is by far their best out of conference win, but Oregon has only one sub-100 loss (at Washington State). Their big win was Sunday when they knocked off No. 10 Utah for a huge win. The rest of their schedule is manageable, so they are probably fine as long as they win 1-2 more.
Purdue (18-9, 10-4 Big Ten) - Remember: Bracket Matrix is an average of 75 brackets, and we're "in" in only 57 of them. Therefore, being in the "last four in" is not that bad. Some have us as high as an 8 seed, while most have us as a 12. It is only Rutgers, but getting past them is a big step because it at least eliminates the possibility of another bad loss. The truth is that we still have four sub-100 losses when many others have two at most. That's why we still have work to do. The committee judges everything from Samford on, otherwise we'd be battling for a top 5 seed with our B1G record.
Stanford (17-9, 8-6 Pac-12) - The last team in has a Bubble battle this Sunday against Oregon and has work to do. Their best non-conference win? Wofford! They have sub-100 losses to DePaul, Washington State, and Colorado, and their best win is over No. 47 UCLA. This is a shaky profile with Oregon and Arizona as their best games left.
First Four Out:
UCLA (16-12, 8-7 Pac-12) - UCLA is being kept alive only because they have played a tough non-conference schedule with losses to Kentucky, Gonzaga, Oklahoma, and North Carolina. They didn't beat any of them. They have two top 50 wins over No. 44 Oregon and No. 10 Utah. Their last three games are against the dregs of the Pac-12 in Washington, Washington State, and USC, so if they lose any of them it will be crippling.
Tulsa (19-6, 12-2 American) - This team has done extremely well in their conference and has a strong RPI of 39, but lost to No. 179 Oral Roberts and they have an atrocious loss to non-DI Southeast Oklahoma State. That alone should eliminate them. If non-DI games don't even count in terms of the RPI then a loss to a non-DI team should eliminate you from consideration.
Boise State (20-7, 10-4 Mountain West) - Boise has a sub-200 loss, to Fresno State, that is pretty fresh. They are doing well in a decently strong conference, but their best non-conference win is over St. Mary's, a team that may or may not get a bid. The Fresno loss is odd, because it is their only loss in the last 11 games and they beat San Diego State and Colorado State, both top 25 teams, in that span.
Pittsburgh (17-10, 7-7 ACC) - These guys lost at Virginia Tech, which is one of the worst major conference losses you can have. They also lost at Hawaii. They didn't get a lot from their Maui trip, as they only beat Chaminade and Kansas State to finish third, while we got more by beating BYU and finishing fifth. The interesting thing is that had we beaten K-State and lost to Arizona, we would have had a fellow bubble game against them instead of BYU.
Next Four Out:
Davidson (19-6, 10-4 Atlantic 10) - They have won five in a row and have a big game coming up against VCU soon, but their only top 50 wins are over UMass and Dayton. Among the Bubble teams they have a couple of good chances for good wins left with Rhode Island and VCU in their final four games.
Miami (FL) (17-10, 7-7 ACC) -Miami blew a chance at a great road win on Saturday when they lost by two at Louisville. Their win at Duke is excellent. A home loss to Eastern Kentucky is not. This team will regret a one point loss at Florida State and two point loss at Wake Forest, as that gives them four sub-100 losses now. If they beat Florida State and North Carolina at home this week it will help them immensely.
BYU (21-8, 11-5 WCC) - The WCC might get two bids, and it would likely come down to who goes farther in their tournament: BYU or St. Mary's. On Saturday BYU is at Gonzaga with a shot at a gigantic resume-boosting win.
Massachusetts (16-11, 9-5 Atlantic-10) - We're into the fringe of the at large candidacy teams now, and UMass has three sub-100 wins and only two top 50 wins over Dayton and Iona. There is not a lot there. There are no top 50 games left, either.
Mid-majors to watch:
These are all teams from likely one-bid conferences unless they lose their respective auto-bids, then they could steal an at large.
Valparaiso (25-4, 12-2 Horizon) - They haven't even played a top 50 team, but if they win their last two regular season games and lose the Horizon final to Green Bay they might get some consideration.
Harvard (19-5, 9-1 Ivy League) - The RPI is at 56 and they have a win over UMass, but home losses to Dartmouth and Holy Cross at home are preventing them from being a lock and in the top 40.
Wofford (23-6, 14-2 Southern) - The Terriers are worth watching because they are the lone SoCon team with a chance at an at large bid, so if they lose the conference tournament they could take an at large. Wins over Iona and NC State are really good for them. A loss to The Citadel is really, really bad.
Iona (23-6, 16-2 MAAC) - Iona has earned an at large before, just three years ago when Purdue beat them in Puerto Rico. They have an RPI of 47 and are the only MAAC team with at large hopes. They are 0-3 against the top 50 though.
Stephen F. Austin (23-4, 13-1 Southland) - Their lone conference losses was to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, which really stings when the other three losses were to Baylor, Xavier, and Northern Iowa. All they can hang their hat on is a win over Memphis and possibly having 29 wins if they lose their league title game to Sam Houston State.