The calendar has now turned to February, and that means the jockeying for position in both the Big Ten and race for a decent seed in the NCAA Tournament is only intensifying. Purdue appears to be good in both. The computer numbers are strong overall and the boilers are only a game out of first in the win column in the Big Ten. Now we get a week off to see if those ahead of us can drop a game or two and let the Boilers back into the conference race.
This week Indiana finally has a real Big Ten game with a trip to Michigan. Iowa gets Penn State and Illinois for two relatively east games. Maryland has to go to Nebraska before coming home to face Purdue. Michigan, who is a very quiet 7-2 in the league with losses only to Purdue and Iowa, hosts Indiana and Michigan State. By the end of the week the Wolverines can be in a very good position to make a run at Iowa, as they have a game at home against the Hawkeyes in their back pocket.
In the non-conference Purdue's win over Florida got a major boost over the weekend. New Mexico is also creeping back towards the top 100.
RPI: 25 (The same as last week)
KenPom: 13 (Down from 9 last week)
RPI top 50 wins: Florida (neutral floor), at Pittsburgh, Michigan
KenPom top 50 wins: Florida (neutral floor), at Pittsburgh, Vanderbilt, Michigan,
Bad losses: at Illinois (RPI 103, KenPom 118)
North Carolina A&T (RPI: 342, KenPom: 330) - 6-17, 3-6 MEAC - North Carolina A&T finally ended a nine game losing streak with a 63-62 win over Savannah State on Saturday. That followed losses to Coppin State (73-68) and Delaware State (57-55) that dropped them to the bottom 10 nationally in the RPI.
Vermont (RPI: 161, KenPom: 185) - 13-10, 5-3 America East - The Catamounts got a nice win over New Hampshire 66-50 in the midweek to keep pace in the America East, but Stony Brook beat them at home 72-61 on Saturday. Stony brook is undefeated in the conference and has an impressive RPI of 54.
Incarnate Word (RPI: 237, KenPom: 103) 10-8, 5-2 Southland - Incarnate Word has been one of the better teams in the Southland Conference and is holding its own even if it cannot win the conference tournament. This past week they fell 79-76 at McNeese State but beat Nicholls State 68-61 at home.
Old Dominion (RPI: 158, KenPom: 125) - 12-10, 5-4 Conference USA - A pair of wins in South Florida moves the Monarchs over .500 in Conference USA play and has them approaching the top 150 overall. They won at Florida Atlantic 78-66 and Florida International 64-60.
Florida (RPI: 23, KenPom: 22) - 14-7, 5-3 SEC - Florida did us a solid this week. First, they lost at Vanderbilt 60-59 to raise the Commodores' overall profile. Second, they knocked off top 10 West Virginia in the SEC/Big 12 challenge 88-71. That is a major resume win for them and makes Purdue look a lot better.
Lehigh (RPI: 250, KenPom: 230) - 6-14, 4-5 Patriot League - The Mountain Hawks earned a split this week. They beat Colgate 79-70 before losing at Boston University 75-73. That has them sixth in the Patriot League.
Pittsburgh (RPI: 31, KenPom: 49) - 17-4, 6-3 ACC - Pittsburgh lost at Clemson, who has been inexplicably hot in ACC play, 73-60. The Panthers did come home and beat Virginia Tech 90-71, however. Their next three games are really tough as they host Virginia, then go to Miami and North Carolina.
New Mexico (RPI: 123, KenPom: 100) - 13-8, 6-2 Mountain West - A pair of wins just barely moves the Lobos into the top 100 according to KenPom. The first was an 84-55 win over Air Force at home, but New Mexico got a very nice 88-83 win at Boise State to move to second in the Mountain West behind San Diego State. New Mexico heads to SDSU on Saturday.
IUPUI (RPI: 160, KenPom 188) - 11-13, 7-2 Summit League - The Jaguars are blistering hot in the Summit League. They beat Western Illinois 69-67 and North Dakota State 73-72 at home this week to move to 7-2 in the league. That is good enough for a 4-way tie for first with IPFW, Nebraska-Omaha, and South Dakota State. SDSU has an RPI of 40 and IUPUI already beat them once in Indianapolis. They have a return date with them on Saturday.
Howard (RPI: 290, KenPom: 293) - 10-11, 3-2 MEAC - Howard earned a split with some bad teams this week. They beat Bethune-Cookman 70-68 but lost to Morgan State 83-63. Their best remaining game is a home-and-home with No. 188 Hampton.
Youngstown State (RPI: 217, KenPom: 246) - 9-14, 4-6 Horizon League - Youngstown beat an awful Illinois-Chicago team 82-78 in Chicago on Thursday, but coming down to Valpo was not a fun trip. The Crusaders blasted them for a second time, 97-68, to keep Valpo well in front of everyone else in the Horizon League.
Butler (RPI: 60, KenPom: 48) - 14-7, 3-6 Big East - Butler really needs to keep it together. They beat DePaul (who doesn't?) 67-53, but dropped a really bad road game at Marquette 75-69. The Big East season has not been kind to the Bulldogs, who are really living off of non-conference wins over Cincinnati, Purdue, and Tennessee.
Vanderbilt (RPI: 60, KenPom: 38) - 12-9, 4-4 SEC - As mentioned above, the win over Florida was big because it gives the Commodores a top 25 RPI win. They followed that with a 72-58 loss at Texas in the SEC Big 12 Challenge on Saturday. Vandy has a huge opportunity on Thursday when it hosts Texas A&M.
Possible NCAA at large teams: Vanderbilt, Florida, Pittsburgh, Butler
Possible auto-bid winners: New Mexico, IUPUI, Vermont