Well, the regular season is over and we're exactly where I said we needed to be to earn an NCAA bid. We reached the magical 20 win mark. Since the Tournament expanded to 64 teams no Big Ten team with at least 11 conference victories has ever been left out of the tournament, either. Purdue should be in good shape. One of its two "bad" losses turned out to not be as bad as thought with North Florida locking up their first ever NCAA Tournament bid.
Before the season I called a 12-6 record a "best case scenario". This was after nearly having the "worst case scenario" in the non-conference portion. I am not saying I am a wizard, but in late December I even accurately mapped how to get to 12-6.
Also helping Purdue is a dearth of mid-majors with worthy at large profiles. Murray State will have a tense week after going 27-5, but losing on a miracle three-pointer to Belmont. They will likely get punished because everyone is afraid to play them as a good mid-major year-in, year-out, but Texas, who played a tough schedule and beat no one, might get in. With Northern Iowa winning the MVC that keeps a bid open. Wofford could have an at large profile if they lose the SoCon final. If anyone aside from Gonzaga or BYU wins the WCC that would steal a bid too.
Things have mostly gone Purdue's way this weekend. Purdue has a more stable profile than other teams that are "in". Getting the 4-seed and a double bye in Chicago is key because it limits the chance for a bad loss. They will play Iowa, Nebraska, or Penn State. If it is Nebraska or Penn State that team would be on its third game in three days while Purdue will be rested. If Purdue lost to Iowa it would likely be okay because it is not a bad loss. If Purdue beats Iowa, we're a lock.
So what does the overall profile look like on the eve of the conference tournaments? How does it compare to other bubble teams?
Good wins (vs. Top 50 RPI): No. 41 BYU, No. 45 North Carolina State, No. 42 Ohio State, No. 39 Iowa
Bad losses (vs. 101 or worse RPI): No. 159 North Florida, No. 142 Gardner-Webb
The Good: Purdue more than held its own in the conference and has not had anything close to a bad loss since December. If you want to erase a non-conference profile that once had four sub-100 losses the way to do it is tear things up in a major conference. Purdue did that. The worst conference loss was by 4 to No. 94 Minnesota in a game that was down to the last possession. Some will say we did not beat any top 25 RPI teams, but we only played three (Wisconsin, Maryland, and Notre Dame). The North Florida loss does not look as bad with the Ospreys making the tournament as a regular season and conference tourney champion either. There is also this:
How strong did @BoilerBall finish the season? The Boilers went 9-3 down the stretch. All 3 losses were on the road by a combined 14 points.— Tom Dienhart (@BTNTomDienhart) March 9, 2015
Most likely Purdue is playing in Chicago to avoid Dayton. As long as it does not lose to Nebraska or Penn State and gets hung with a late bad loss it should be fine. If the Boilers play Iowa and beat them they are not only a lock, they likely avoid Dayton too.
Currently, SB Nation has us avoiding Dayton, so let's look at the teams it has in Dayton:
Good wins (vs. Top 50 RPI): at No. 8 Gonzaga
Bad losses (vs. 101 or worse RPI): No. 139 Pepperdine, at No. 139 Pepperdine, at No. 150 San Diego
BYU gets a boost for playing a pretty good non-conference schedule, but there were no great wins there. They lost to Purdue, San Diego State, and Utah with a decent win over Stanford that helps them for Bubble purposes. The win at Gonzaga is great, but they dropped three bad conference games. To be a second at large from the WCC they probably needed to beat everyone else with only losses to St. Mary's and Gonzaga. Purdue should have an advantage because of one fewer "bad loss" and the head-to-head win. Pepperdine is still alive in the WCC tournament, however, and a third win would have the Waves steal the auto-bid.
Good wins (vs. Top 50 RPI): No. 16 SMU, No. 24 Butler, No. 9 Maryland, No. 42 Ohio State
Bad losses (vs. 101 or worse RPI): No. 113 Northwestern
When you look at Indiana's overall profile it is not that bad. Losing a conference game, even to a sub 100 team, isn't horrible and if you look at what the Wildcats have done of late they are one of the hottest teams in the league. Eastern Washington is still a top 100 team and can win their auto-bid from the Big Sky. They even spent a good portion of the season in the top 50, so it is not like GW or UNF for us. Indiana's head-to-head win over Illinois helps, but they did the opposite of Purdue. They went 4-8 in the last 12 with the best win coming over No. 87 Michigan. Being swept by Purdue gives the Boilers a big edge. Indiana is in a perilous position. It opens Big Ten tournament play against Northwestern in a must-win game. Otherwise, they have to be out.
Good wins (vs. Top 50 RPI): No. 39 Iowa, No. 10 Baylor, No. 21 West Virginia
Bad losses (vs. 101 or worse RPI): none
It is absurd Texas is even being considered, let alone that many people feel are in. No team has done less with more. Yes, they have played a brutal schedule, but they have beaten no one other than Baylor. I stand form on my stance of "If you finish below .500 in your conference you don't deserve an at large bid. Period." Don't want to bitch? Go win some games.
Good wins (vs. Top 50 RPI): No. 2 Kansas, No. 34 Cincinnati
Bad losses (vs. 101 or worse RPI): at No. 177 St. Joseph's
Nothing really stands out about Temple, which is probably why they are the last team in. They are a bland team that has a very, very good win over Kansas and that is about it. They can still get some good wins in their conference tournament, however, with SMU, Cincinnati, and Tulsa as possibilities.
Last Four Out:
Texas A&M Aggies
Good wins (vs. Top 50 RPI): No. 50 LSU, at No. 50 LSU
Bad losses (vs. 101 or worse RPI): none
If you thought Temple's profile was dry, Texas A&M is burnt white toast. Their best wins are over the No. 50 team twice. Their worst loss is to No. 86 Kansas State. They are exactly middle of the road: beating everyone they should and losing to those they should lose to. It's about as boring of a 20-10 as you can ask for.
Good wins (vs. Top 50 RPI): at No. 5 Duke, No. 45 NC State
Bad losses (vs. 101 or worse RPI): No. 155 Eastern Kentucky, No. 129 Georgia Tech, at No. 119 Florida State, at No. 126 Wake Forest
So what do you do if you're Miami? Do you want Green Bay beat Miami and is No. 60 in the RPI, to beat Valparaiso, and get the auto-bid, or do you want Valpo to win and avoid any chance that the Crusaders get an at large? Miami's fate was probably sealed with a number of close losses. They lost in double OT to Virginia, by 5 at Notre Dame, by one at Florida State, and by two each at Wake Forest and Louisville. If they get even one of those things are looking much better right now. They do have a decent road win at Illinois that will help when going against the Illini.
Good wins (vs. Top 50 RPI): No. 29 Oregon, No. 14 Utah
Bad losses (vs. 101 or worse RPI): at No. 121 Colorado, at No. 116 Oregon State, at No. 104 California
So UCLA gets a pass for three sub-100 losses because they were all in conference play? There is not a single notable non-conference win on this resume. They went to Atlantis looking for good wins and only beat UAB in the 7th place game. They have a win over an NCAA team in Coastal Carolina, but that is it. The two big wins in conference are nice, but it looks like you need at least three or four top 50 wins to feel good.
Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Good wins (vs. Top 50 RPI): No. 32 temple, at No. 32 Temple
Bad losses (vs. 101 or worse RPI): No. 161 Oral Roberts. Non-DI Southeast Oklahoma State
This team lost to a Division II team. That alone should disqualify them.
Old Dominion, Illinois, Stanford, Murray State
These teams are here for various reasons. Illinois has a nice win over Baylor and Maryland, but that is about it. Old Dominion faltered late. Stanford didn't do enough against the Pac-12. Murray State couldn't get anyone to play them in their non-conference and fell on a miracle shot after not losing since early December. All can still play their way in except Murray State.