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Non-Conference Opponents’ Update December 26

Purdue has five wins against the top 50 in the KenPom ratings.

NCAA Basketball: Tennessee State at Purdue Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

Once again, I am moving the non-conference update up a bit because of football. Tomorrow we’re going to be in full bowl game mode with the Foster Farms Bowl. Yes, we too are a bit out of practice with this whole postseason football thing, but it is fun no less.

In the meantime Purdue continues to have one of the best NCAA profiles in America. The goal continues to be to earn a top 3 seed, and with six quality wins so far, more than anyone else in America, we’re well on our way. Bracket Matrix even has us as the highest 3 seed, bordering on a 2 seed. No one there has us lower than a 5 seed, and several have us at a 2 seed. Even then, there is frustration as North Carolina, a fellow 2 loss team, has a worse loss than we do (Wofford at home vs. Western Kentucky on a neutral floor) with fewer quality wins.

Is a one seed possible? Well, if Purdue enters the NCAAs at something like 30-4 or 29-5 with at least one win over Michigan State and a Big Ten title. The Big Ten is unquestionably down this year. It is basically Purdue and Michigan State, then everyone else. Maryland, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio State, and maybe Northwestern will battle for NCAA bids, but they are all well behind Purdue and Michigan State at this point.

Ideally Purdue and Michigan State finished 18-0 and 17-1 with the one loss coming in their February 10 matchup in East Lansing. That provides the best strength for the conference. Upsets and bad nights happen though. No one in America is safe this year from the upset bug (except maybe Villanova).

Purdue Boilermakers Profile

Record: 12-2, 2-0 Big Ten

RPI: 12 (Up from 17)

KenPom: 5 (The same as last week. )

Quadrant 1 Wins (KenPom) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 14 Arizona (neutral), 34 Maryland (away), 44 Butler (neutral) 49 Marquette (away)

Quadrant 2: Home 31-75 (KenPom) Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 32 Louisville (home), 55 Northwestern (home)

Quadrant 1 Wins (RPI) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 21 Arizona (neutral), 69 Maryland (away), 38 Butler (neutral), 65 marquette (away)

Quadrant 2: Home 31-75 (RPI) Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 74 Northwestern (home), 33 Louisville (home)

Bad Losses (sub-100 RPI OR KenPom): None

SIU-Edwardsville Cougars (4-7, 0-0 Ohio Valley) RPI: 209, KenPom: 316 – SIU-Edwardsville went on the road and lost at Central Michigan 70-52 on Friday. Their non-conference slate is over and they begin Ohio Valley play Thursday at Austin Peay.

Chicago State Cougars (2-13, 0-0 WAC) RPI: 306, KenPom: 346 – CSU is on a break as they have not played since the last update. Tomorrow night they are at Wisconsin, the 4th Big Ten team they have played. They have lost to Purdue by 69, Iowa by 37, and Northwestern by 65.

Marquette Golden Eagles (9-3, 0-0 Big East) RPI: 65, KenPom: 49 – Beating American 92-51 on Thursday was not a huge win, but Marquette is closing in on the top 50 with a nice overall non-conference mark. The win over Vermont is sneaky-good. Losses to Purdue and Wichita State aren’t bad. They don’t have a great win yet, but beating Xavier tomorrow night in Milwaukee would be a good start.

Fairfield Stags (5-6, 0-0 MAAC) RPI: 224, KenPom: 202 – Fairfield beat lowly New Hampshire 78-68 to finish its non-conference season strong. They start league play in the MAAC Thursday night by hosting St. Peter’s.

Tennessee Volunteers (9-2, 0-0 SEC) RPI: 9, KenPom: 19 – Tennessee continues to look really good and their win over us was not an accident (even if Purdue should have closed them out). They had a close call in a 66-61 win over Furman Wednesday night but got a nice road win at Wake Forest 79-60 on Saturday.

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (8-5, 0-0 Conference USA) RPI: 88, KenPom: 84– WKU won at Austin Peay 72-55 and their KenPom numbers are at least solidly in the top 100 for now. Ironically, they are being pulled up there by Purdue. It turns out that a win over the No. 5 team in KenPom is extremely beneficial. Is this a tournament team? We’ll see what happens in C-USA play.

Arizona Wildcats (10-3, 0-0 Pac-12) RPI: 21, KenPom: 14 – We continue to be the last team to beat the Wildcats. They beat Connecticut at home 73-58 on Thursday. They now have a huge conference game at home against early season darling Arizona State on Saturday. I would label the Sun Devils as pretenders, but they are legit good with wins over Xavier, at Kansas, Kansas State, Vanderbilt, and San Diego State. Arizona has won 7 in a row.

Louisville Cardinals (10-2, 0-0 ACC) RPI: 33, KenPom: 32 – Louisville almost stumbled at home, beating Albany 70-68 on Wednesday. They got a nice win over Grand Canyon 74-56 on Saturday, but their real test is this Friday at Kentucky. If they can beat Kentucky and Arizona can beat Arizona State Purdue’s profile gets a huge boost.

Valparaiso Crusaders (9-4, 0-0 MVC) RPI: 148, KenPom: 136 – The Crusaders were undefeated when they came to Purdue. They have now lost 4 of 5 after losing at UC-Riverside 73-60, but beating Santa Clara 76-68. Thursday night they start conference play by hosting Indiana State.

IUPUI Jaguars (3-8, 0-0 Horizon League) RPI: 294, KenPom: 273 – The good news is that IUPUI won a game. The bad news is that it was an 87-76 win over Indiana-Kokomo, who didn’t even have a program five years ago and they are an NAIA school.

Butler Bulldogs (10-3, 0-0 Big East) RPI: 38, KenPom: 44 – Butler recovered to beat a pair of patsies in Morehead State 85-69 and Western Illinois 107-46 last week. I took my son to the WIU game so he could experience Hinkle and Butler shot the lights out of the gym. If they could do that Saturday against Villanova, the fourth huge game for one of our vanquished foes this weekend, that would be great.

Tennessee St. Tigers (5-6, 0-0 Ohio Valley) RPI: 174, KenPom: 205 – At least by playing Purdue they moved into the top 200 of the RPI. We would be getting more of a boost by playing East Tennessee State right now.

Lipscomb Bisons (9-4, 0-0 Atlantic Sun) RPI: 24, KenPom: 124 – That’s right, Lipscomb’s RPI is a very solid 24 right now. Beating them at the moment would qualify as a tier 1 win. They beat Navy 73-64 on Thursday and we are even playing them Saturday night for land in College Basketball Imperialism (specifically southwest Florida and Central Illinois). They are buoyed by two wins over a good Belmont team and games against Alabama and Texas. They are likely the favorite right now to win the Atlantic Sun bid.