Yesterday's loss sucked, but it was far from a crippling loss for our newly revived NCAA Tournament hopes. Losing to a respectable Minnesota team that has time fight their own way back onto the Bubble, especially in a close game, is not that damaging. Purdue's RPI and KenPom numbers have even risen this weekend. The RPI is up to 73 from 77 and the KenPom is up to 53. Generally, if Purdue can get into the top 50 of each it should have a decent shot.
The thing is, we're squarely on the Bubble, and it is looking more and more that an 11-7 mark in the Big Ten might be enough if we can get at least one game in Chicago from the Big Ten Tourney. So who is on the Bubble with Purdue?
According to the Bracket Matrix, which grabs basically every mock bracket out there all in one site, Purdue is currently a "Last Four Out" team, and fourth of those four. While that means a No. 1 seed in the NIT (yippee), it means there is work to do to get into the real tournament. Here is a look at who we're up against from "Last Four In" to "Next Four out"
Tulsa (17-5) - The Golden Hurricane are at the bottom of the at large pool and with a 17-5 overall record they look good. They do have something that should disqualify them, however. They have a loss to Non-DI Southeast Oklahoma State. While it is cool that SEOSU is where Dennis Rodman played in College, It is an embarrassing loss that should likely count as three losses. Overall Tulsa is 1-4 gainst the top 50 of the RPI with their lone win coming at Temple.
St. John's (14-8) - The Red Storm are up here because of the perpetually over-rated Big East. They are 2-5 against the top 50 in the RPI with two wins over Providence, who is 20th. Their best non-conference win is over Minnesota, but they are 4-6 in the Big East. If you can't finish at least .500 in your conference you have no business being in the NCAA Tournament, especially in a second-tier conference like the Big East (Search your feelings. You know it be true.)
Old Dominion (18-4) - This is a hot mid-major in Conference USA that has a lot of wins, some of them good, but few are great. They lost to Middle Tennessee State, Illinois State, UAB, and Western Kentucky. They have an excellent win over Virginia Commonwealth, but that might be their only win of substance other than one over No. 50 LSU. They can avoid the at large pool by getting an auto-bid.
North Carolina State (14-10) - This is the first one I disagree with. The Bracket Matrix has them in, but they are basically Purdue without the bad losses. Even the Wofford loss is not bad with Wofford being No. 42 in the RPI. Their worst is a recent loss to Wake Forest, and they are 5-6 in the ACC having lost four of their last five. It would piss me off if both Purdue and NC State were on the Bubble and the Wolfpack got in instead of us since we have a head-to-head win before we were playing better and when they were playing their best.
Temple (17-7) - This is the last at large team according to Bracket Matrix and like so many others on the Bubble, they are flawed. They are 1-5 against the top 50, but their win is a damn good one over No.1 (in the RPI) Kansas. What helps them is that there is not really a bad loss aside from No. 170 St. Joseph's.
George Washington (17-6) - This is another Atlantic 10 team that is decent in a good conference. One of their best wins is a victory over Wichita State in Hawaii. Right now their worst loss is to Penn State, but they have no losses outside the top 100. They are one of a precious few bubble teams that can say that.
Illinois (16-8) - The Illini are staying alive, and the loss in Champaign, when they were depleted, hurts worse than yesterday because it gives the committee something judge against us. Their overall profile is a good mix. The worst loss is to No. 101 Nebraska, which is not going to be a significant knock because it is a conference loss on the road. They have defended their home court with only one loss to Indiana. Because of all this, the Senior Day game against the Illini is going to be huge.
Wyoming (19-5) - Wyoming has a basketball team? I thought they got contracted when Fennis Dembo left. They have been to one NCAA Tournament since 1988 (in 2002) and they have an NCAA title (1943), so I stand corrected. They don't have a bad profile, either. They are 3-2 against the top 50 thanks to a two-game sweep of No. 27 Colorado State. If they can beat Whale's Vagina State on the road on Wednesday they will have a very good profile.
Purdue (15-9) - This is where we sit with these teams. Purdue is 3-4 against the top 50 and 8-5 overall against the top 100, but four losses to teams 100 or worse (Kansas State, Vanderbilt, North Florida, and Gardner-Webb) are killing us. Honestly, it is what is setting Purdue apart from the Bubble teams above it. We have better wins, but the losses are far worse. Had Purdue even split with North Florida or Gardner-Webb it would likely be fine.
UCLA (14-10) - The Bruins don't really have a bad loss, but there is not a truly good win on their resume. Two of their three top 50 wins are a sweep of No. 44 Stanford. It is about as average of a profile as you can imagine.
Davidson (15-6) - This is a team betting on an auto-bid more than anything. Half their losses are to top 10 RPI teams, but recent conference losses to St. Joseph's and St. Bonaventure were crippling. Their best win is over Dayton.
Tennessee (13-9) - They are 5-5 in the SEC. If you finish with a losing record in the SEC your shouldn't even be eligible for the NIT. They have beaten Butler and Arkansas, but are falling after losing four of their last five.
BYU (18-8) - BYU's bubble might have popped when they lost to Pepperdine on Thursday, giving the Waves a season sweep. The two top 50 wins over Stanford and UMass don't look that great and, with the loss to Purdue in OT, it is a difference-maker.
Florida (12-11) - It is laughable that this team is still being considered. Basically, they are riding last year and no bad losses against a tough schedule. They are 1-7 against the top 50 and some people seriously think they deserve an at large berth.
So there you have it. This is who Purdue is competing against. It really is a case of Purdue's bad losses weighing it down. If we had beaten UNF and G-W we would be a lock. Instead, there is still work to do, so let's go do it.