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Non-Conference Opponents’ Update: January 4

This week we see that Western Illinois did something Indiana could not.

NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Purdue Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

The latest ESPN Bracketology has Purdue as a4 seed playing Akron out in Salt Lake City, with a tough 4/5 game against Oregon or Nevada. It seems pretty accurate, too. Purdue has all the look of a 4 seed right now. It has some good wins. It has a good KenPom number. We aren’t quite there to move higher yet. I think a Big Ten title secures at least a 3 seed, which is ideal because then you avoid a No. 1 seed until the regional final.

The thing is, Purdue has all the talent it needs for a deep run. We’re clearly going to make the NCAA Tournament barring a complete disaster down the stretch. Sunday stunk, but two wins this week can erase that and put us back in the driver’s seat for the Big Ten. There is a lot to play for going forward, and I think this team will recover nicely. That recovery begins tomorrow night in Columbus, where we can get a nice road win over a possible NCAA team.

Purdue Boilermakers Profile:

Record: 12-3, 1-1 Big Ten

RPI: 51 (46 last week)

KenPom: 14 (12 last week)

Top 50 RPI wins: 41 Notre Dame (Neutral Floor)

Top 50 KenPom wins: 29 Notre Dame (Neutral Floor)

Bad Losses: None

McNeese State (5-8, 2-0 Southland) – RPI: 189, KenPom: 302 – Well, well, well! McNeese State got into conference play and they started extremely strong with wins over Northwestern State (79-72) and Stephen F. Austin (69-54). SFA was an NCAA team a year ago and even won a game over West Virginia before losing by a point to Notre Dame. That was after they went undefeated in their conference, so this victory broke a 30-game conference winning streak for Stephen F. Austin. It was only the second conference loss in four seasons for SFA.

Villanova (14-0, 2-0 Big East) – RPI: 1, KenPom: 3 – The Champs keep rolling along. They struggled with DePaul of all teams, winning 68-65, but they got a huge road win in conference play at Creighton 80-70 on Saturday. They are back in the state of Indiana tonight at Butler, as they try for wins over the top 3 teams in Indiana

Georgia State (7-6, 0-1 Sun Belt) – RPI: 117, KenPom: 157 – No, Georgia State can’t get into the top 50 for us. They dropped a home game to UMass last week 74-65. Their Sun Belt conference opener was a dud as well, as it was an 88-65 loss at Georgia Southern.

Utah State (7-7, 0-2 Mountain West) – RPI: 214, KenPom: 159 – It looks like Purdue would have been much better served playing Texas Tech in Cancun that Utah State. The Red Raiders upset West Virginia last night to move to 12-2. Utah State lost its first two Mountain West games 83-80 to Boise State and 78-73 at Air Force.

Auburn (10-3, 0-0 SEC) – RPI: 84, KenPom: 98 – For now Auburn is hanging in the top 100, but the Tigers dropped their SEC opener at home to Georgia 96-84. They travel to Vanderbilt tonight with a chance to get a nice road win, so we could really use some sauce from Ronnie. The Georgia loss broke a 4-game winning streak.

NJIT (7-8, 0-0 Atlantic Sun) – RPI: 215, KenPom: 215 – NJIT played only once in the past week, winning at Stony Brook 64-61 last Wednesday. Their final non-conference game is tonight at home against Brown.

Louisville (12-2, 0-1 ACC) – RPI: 8, KenPom: 9 – Louisville had a heck of a week. They started ACC play with a home loss to Virginia 61-53, but got a nice neutral court win over Indiana on Saturday 77-62 in Indianapolis. The Cards are a consensus top 10 team, but they can help us a lot tonight by losing at Notre Dame in league play, making that Purdue win very strong.

Morehead State (4-10, 0-1 OVC) – RPI: 275, KenPom: 222 – The good news is that Morehead got a non-DI win over Asbury College 120-77, but they dropped their Ohio Valley opener 81-77 at Tennessee-martin. They play their first home conference game tomorrow night against Eastern Illinois.

Arizona State (8-7, 1-1 Pac-12) – RPI: 118, KenPom: 109 – We could really use Arizona State getting into the top 100 of both the RPI and the KenPom and they are right there. They earned a split on the road at the Bay Area schools to start Pac-12 play last week. They won 98-93 at Stanford, but lost 81-65 at Cuonzo Martin’s Cal. This weekend they host Colorado and Utah.

Cleveland State (5-9, 1-1 Horizon League) – RPI: 223, KenPom: 237– Horizon League play has started for the Vikings. They opened with a 76-75 home loss to Green Bay, but recovered to beat Milwaukee 62-53.

Notre Dame (12-2, 1-0 ACC) – RPI: 50, KenPom: 24 – Notre Dame only beat St. Peter’s by 8 at 63-55, but recovered to open ACC play with a very nice road win at Pittsburgh in overtime 78-77 on Saturday. Their numbers should rise dramatically with five straight games coming up against top 100 teams, starting tonight at home against Louisville.

Western Illinois (4-9, 1-1 Summit League) – RPI: 321, KenPom 296 – Western Illinois did what Indiana could not do: They won at Fort Wayne. The Leathernecks stunned IPFW 93-91 in the conference opener for both teams, ending the slim at large hopes the Mastodons had. Western followed that with an 89-71 loss at IUPUI to end their three-game Indiana swing.

Norfolk State (3-11, 0-0 MEAC) – RPI: 311, KenPom: 314 – Norfolk State has only played once since losing at Purdue and it was an 86-77 loss at bowling green on Friday. They start play in the MEAC tonight at Morgan State.