It is time for the penultimate non-conference opponents’ update. Heading into Championship the Boilers are in very good shape. We know they are going to the NCAA Tournament regardless after a 24-7 regular season record. The profile is so good that Purdue seems to be on the verge of a top 4 seed in a region. On Bracket Matrix the latest projections have Purdue as the highest 5 seed slightly behind Iowa State for the last four seed. With a good week in Indianapolis and some help from Florida and Pittsburgh Purdue can rack up five more top 50 wins this week.
I say five wins because Pittsburgh and Florida have fallen out of the top 50, but are close enough to move up with some good wins in their conference tournaments. When looking at those conference tournaments Purdue can get a boost in other ways as well.
RPI: 16 (Up 2 from last week)
KenPom: 16 (Up 3 from last week)
RPI top 50 wins: #12 Maryland, #14 Michigan State, at #32 Wisconsin, #32 Wisconsin, #49 Vanderbilt
51-100 RPI wins: #54 Florida (Netural Floor), at #55 Pittsburgh, #68 Michigan, #77 Ohio State,
KenPom top 50 wins: #3 Michigan State, #23 Vanderbilt, #24 Maryland, at #27 Wisconsin, #27 Wisconsin, at #43 Pittsburgh, #44 Florida (neutral floor)
51-100 KenPom wins: #54 Michigan, #63 Ohio State, #75 Northwestern
Bad loss: at Illinois (RPI 161, KenPom 141)
North Carolina A&T (RPI: 340, KenPom: 337) - 10-21, 7-9 MEAC – The Aggies are the No. 6 seed in the MEAC tournament and will open against Coppin State tonight. Last week they lost to Bethune Cookman 62-53 but beat North Carolina Central 93-87. They lost to Coppin State 5 in their only meeting this year.
Vermont (RPI: 139, KenPom: 154) - 20-12, 11-5 America East – A 99-82 win over Maine in the quarterfinals of the America East Tournament earned the Catamounts a semifinal game tonight against New Hampshire. A victory means a championship game appearance on Saturday against either Hartford or Stony Brook.
Incarnate Word (RPI: 184, KenPom: 229) 17-12, 12-6 Southland – the season is over for Incarnate Word. Since they are still in their probationary period after moving up to Division I they will not participate in the Southland Tournament. They lost to Stephen F. Austin 84-58 this week before beating Houston Baptist 97-86 and Abilene Christian 74-70. They ended up tied for third in their conference, which was rather impressive.
Old Dominion (RPI: 155, KenPom: 132) - 19-12, 12-6 Conference USA – The Monarchs have some momentum heading into Championship Week. They beat North Texas 76-70 and Rice 74-67 to earn the 5 seed in the Conference USA Tournament. They open on Wednesday against either Texas-San Antonio or Florida Atlantic.
Florida (RPI: 54, KenPom: 44) – 18-13, 9-9 SEC – Florida blew a chance at an excellent win over Kentucky, losing 88-79 at home on Tuesday. They recovered to beat Missouri 82-72, but will only be the 8 Seed in the SEC Tournament. They play at 1pm Thursday against Arkansas and likely need a pair of wins in Nashville to feel even remotely safe.
Lehigh (RPI: 156, KenPom: 163) - 16-14, 13-5 Patriot League – Here is one of the potential surprising teams for Purdue. Lehigh beat Navy 65-63 and American 78-62 to reach the Patriot League Championship game. They will even host the championship Wednesday night against Holy Cross, the 9 seed in the league. Lehigh swept Holy Cross in conference play, so a third win will send the Mountain Hawks to the NCAA Tournament, likely as a 16 seed.
Pittsburgh (RPI: 55, KenPom: 43) - 20-10, 9-9 ACC – Pittsburgh lost two road games this past week at Virginia Tech (65-61) and Georgia Tech (63-59) to slip back onto the Bubble. They are probably okay, but winning even one of those two would have been ideal. They go to the ACC Tournament as the 8 seed and will play Syracuse at Noon on Wednesday.
New Mexico (RPI: 127, KenPom: 127) - 17-14, 10-8 Mountain West – New Mexico was blown out at home by San Diego State 83-56 but beat Nevada 71-66 on the road to finish 10-8 in the Mountain West. They will be the 4 seed and play Nevada again on Thursday to open their league tournament.
Howard (RPI: 329, KenPom: 333) - 12-18, 5-9 MEAC – Howard lost to Norfolk State 84-66 and will be the 10 seed in the MEAC tournament starting tomorrow against North Carolina Central.
Youngstown State (RPI: 282, KenPom: 272) - 11-21, 6-12 Horizon League – Youngstown State’s season is over after a 92-79 loss to Detroit in the Horizon League tournament.
Butler (RPI: 46, KenPom: 39) - 21-9, 10-8 Big East - Butler closed with wins over Seton Hall 85-78 and Marquette 95-74 to finish with a winning record in Big East play. That also likely puts them into the NCAA Tournament, as their win over Purdue is their major boost. They will be the No. 5 see in the Big east Tournament and will get a third shot at Providence on Thursday.
Vanderbilt (RPI: 49, KenPom: 23) – 19-12, 11-7 SEC – A midweek 86-69 win over Tennessee had Vanderbilt in the position where they could have share the SEC title had Kentucky lost to LSU, but Kentucky won and Vanderbilt lost 76-67 at Texas A&M. the ended up with the five seed and will play the Auburn-Tennessee winner on Thursday afternoon. A win there and a Friday win over LSU would probably put them in the tournament.
Possible NCAA at large teams: Vanderbilt, Florida, Pittsburgh, Butler
Possible auto-bid winners: Lehigh, Vermont, Old Dominion
Season Complete: Incarnate Word, IUPUI, Youngstown State