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Non-Conference Opponents Update: February 22

Purdue is looking like a solid 4 seed at the moment.

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Penn State
“You’re kidding me that we almost lost to Penn State, right?”
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Last night was definitely survival with a little bit of luck. Purdue played like utter trash for much of the game, blew a late 8 point lead, but somehow escaped with an overtime win to keep its Big Ten title hopes alive.

That’s how conference titles are won, however.

Remember 2010? Purdue stole quite a few games then, too. John Hart coming out of nowhere at Illinois helped steal a game. He also hit a big three to break Purdue out of his shellshock in That Game in Minneapolis (which Purdue did win, thanks to Keaton Grant). Purdue also needed Verdell Jones III to miss a tying 3-pointer in the waning seconds in Bloomington and had to survive a 4-point win in Happy Valley.

You have to be good, but you also have to be lucky sometimes.

The Boilers are still alive though. With three games left a conference title is still up to us. The same is true for a higher seed in March. On Bracket Matrix Purdue is a projected 4 seed right now, averaging a 4.20 across 113 brackets. You’re starting to see a handful of threes get sprinkled in there, too. I maintain: If Purdue wins out and makes it to the B1G tourney final I think it is a three seed. Ideally, I want a 3 seed in Indianapolis. That keeps us close to home and as far from a No. 1 seed as possible in our region.

Purdue Boilermakers Profile:

Record: 23-5, 12-3 Big Ten

RPI: 16 (19 last week)

KenPom: 11 (11 last week)

Top 50 RPI wins: 24 Wisconsin, at 18 Maryland, 25 Notre Dame (Neutral Floor), 43 Northwestern, at 45 Michigan State, 45 Michigan State

Keep an eye on: Illinois, who is now at 59 in the RPI and could make a late season push for the top 50. Purdue also still has games at 54 Michigan and at 43 Northwestern.

Top 50 KenPom wins: 16 Wisconsin, 26 Notre Dame (Neutral Floor), 39 Northwestern, at 32 Maryland, at 45 Indiana

Note: Keep an eye on Michigan State (55) here to move into the top 50, which would count twice.

Bad Losses (sub-100 RPI OR KenPom): at Iowa (RPI: 108, KenPom 76)

McNeese State (7-18, 4-10 Southland) – RPI: 302, KenPom: 317 – McNeese only played once this past week, losing 82-78 at home to Abilene Christian. It is their 7th loss in 8 games.

Villanova (26-2, 13-2 Big East) – RPI: 2, KenPom: 2 – The Wildcats have all but locked up a No. 1 seed in their title defense. They beat Seton Hall 92-70 on Saturday for their ninth win against the top 50. Tonight they get to avenge one of their two losses when they host Butler. A win also clinches the outright Big east title.

Georgia State (17-10, 10-5 Sun Belt) – RPI: 127, KenPom: 124 – Georgia State had an excellent chance to pick up a huge home win over No. 34 Texas-Arlington, but lost on a last second 3-pointer 68-67. They came back ot beat Texas State 67-51 Monday night to stay in third place in their conference, two games behind Texas-Arlington. If they don’t give up that three-pointer they are in a three-way tie for first with Arkansas State.

Utah State (12-15, 5-10 Mountain West) – RPI: 193, KenPom: 166 – The Aggies dropped both games this week. They lost at home 66-62 to San Diego State and 77-66 at league-leading Nevada. Nevada is probably the only Mountain West team with at large chances, but Utah State did beat them at home.

Auburn (17-11, 6-9 SEC) – RPI: 77, KenPom: 78 –Auburn has very faint at large hopes still. They lost 81-62 at Texas A&M on Saturday but beat LSU last night 98-75. They finish with Arkansas, at Georgia, and at home against Missouri. If they could win all three they might climb into the at large discussion, but it seems unlikely. They are a miserable 0-5 against the top 50, but if 16-10 Alabama can be an at large candidate Auburn can since they swept the Tide.

NJIT (10-19, 2-11 Atlantic Sun) – RPI: 298, KenPom: 274 – NJIT won a game! Their losing streak reached nine straight with an 80-73 home loss to Florida Gulf Coast, but they snapped it with a 60-56 win over Stetson on Saturday. Tomorrow night is their final regular season game.

Louisville (22-5, 9-4 ACC) – RPI: 3, KenPom: 5 – The biggest thing to come out of Purdue’s loss at Louisville is that it gave the Cardinals a de facto tiebreaker for one of the two favored spots in Indianapolis. They beat Virginia Tech 94-90 on Saturday and are at North Carolina tonight. Right now it appears that Kentucky and Louisville would be the two favored teams here, leaving Purdue out. The difference between all three is that Louisville beat Kentucky and Purdue.

Morehead State (13-14, 9-5 OVC) – RPI: 177, KenPom: 185 – After getting over .500 overall Morehead State has dropped two straight. They lost 64-52 at Tennessee State on Thursday and 89-73 at league-leading Belmont on Saturday.

Arizona State (13-15, 6-9 Pac-12) – RPI: 133, KenPom: 133 – Arizona State gets the synergy of their RPI matching their KenPom number. This comes after a road split where they beat Washington 83-81, but lost 86-71 at Washington State. They finish with three straight home games against UCLA, USC, and Arizona. They are a paltry 0-10 against the RPI top 50 and all three of their last games are against top 50 teams.

Cleveland State (8-21, 4-13 Horizon League) – RPI: 244, KenPom: 237– Cleveland State has played three times since last Wednesday and it lost all three. They lost to Northern Kentucky 62-60, Wright State 74-68, and at Detroit 91-83. They host Youngstown State Saturday in their final regular season game.

Notre Dame (21-7, 10-5 ACC) – RPI: 25, KenPom: 26 – After losing four in a row Notre Dame has now won four in a row heading into Sunday’s game with Georgia Tech. Saturday’s 81-72 win at North Carolina State clinched a winning record in ACC play for them and practically locked up an NCAA bid. They are 6-6 against the top 50 in the RPI.

Western Illinois (8-17, 5-9 Summit League) – RPI: 320, KenPom 295 – League leading North Dakota State beat the Leathernecks 100-91 on Saturday. They finish the regular season with home games on Thursday and Saturday.

Norfolk State (13-14, 9-3 MEAC) – RPI: 256, KenPom: 298 – Norfolk ran its winning streak to 10 with a 77-65 win at Florida A&M, but it was snapped with an awful 75-65 loss at Bethune-Cookman (No. 349 out of 351 in the RPI. That loss handed the regular season title and NIT bid (at minimum) to North Carolina Central. North Carolina Central is 18-6, 12-1 and is the only team in this conference with a hope of avoiding Dayton if it wins the conference title.

Regional Assignments for the Top 16 Teams per Bracket Matrix:

This is mostly an educated guess at this point, but the basic premise is that the higher your seed, the harder the committee tries to keep you close to home. Here are the 8 first round host sites with the two most likely teams to be “preferred” at each.

Buffalo: 1 Villanova, 4 West Virginia

Milwaukee: 4 Purdue, 4 Butler

Indianapolis: 2 Louisville, 3 Kentucky

Tulsa: 1 Kansas, 2 Baylor

Greenville: 1 North Carolina, 3 Duke

Salt Lake City: 1 Gonzaga, 2 Arizona

Sacramento: 2, Oregon, 4 UCLA

Orlando: 3 Florida, 3 Florida State

Milwaukee isn’t bad, but I would prefer Indianapolis. Unfortunately, I don’t see us passing Kentucky or Louisville for Indy.