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Non-Conference Opponents’ Update: January 17

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Purdue has a very good basketball team, and that scares Purdue people.

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

So last week was odd. People lost their minds on our Facebook page saying it was too early to talk about a No. 1 seed. Some even went so far as to say we were causing a distraction to the team and it would be our fault if things fell apart. That’s probably our Purdue PTSD at work. I admit, mine is pretty bad. Even in the midst of this run the team is on right now I can’t help but fear the eventual banana peel.

Why is this? Why are we conditioned to feel this way? It probably stems from it being a cross-sport thing for so long. It has not always been limited to just men’s basketball. Baseball, volleyball, and football have all had their banana peel moments. The men’s basketball team just has the larger spotlight.

Look, we all know our history. No amount of being quiet about it will make it go away, just like re-hashing it all the time (and I am guilty of this) will do no good. I am just working each week to put the facts out there as they stand right now.

And those facts are that Purdue is a really, REALLY good team. You don’t get to No. 3 in the nation in late January on a fluke. This is when profiles are made and seeding comes together. Is it too early to talk No. 1 seed? Absolutely not! Purdue currently leads a major conference with an undefeated league record. Of its 20 games, 9 have come against Tier 1 RPI teams. Only North Carolina (6-2) and Butler (2-7) have played as many as nine Tier 1 games. Purdue’s 7 wins in such games is the most in America. Only North Carolina and Kansas even have 6. For a short while last night Purdue was even the No. 1 team in America according to KenPom, and it currently trails Villanova by 0.04 for the top spot on adjusted EM.

Do we deserve a No. 1 seed? You’re damn right we do. The next 11 games are all about locking said seed up.

Purdue Boilermakers Profile

Record: 18-2, 7-0 Big Ten

RPI: 10 (The same as last week)

KenPom: 2 (Up from 4 last week)

Tier 1 Wins (KenPom) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 18 Michigan (away), 24 Arizona (neutral), 38 Maryland (away), 43 Marquette (away), 44 Butler (neutral), 62 Minnesota (away)

Tier 2 Wins (KenPom): Home 31-75 Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 33 Louisville (home)

Tier 1 Wins (RPI) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 17 Louisville (home), 20 Arizona (neutral), 27 Michigan (road) 33 Butler (neutral) 37 Marquette (road), 51 Maryland (road), 65 Minnesota (road)

Tier 2: Home 31-75 (RPI) Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 66 Lipscomb (home), 70 Nebraska (home)

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

SIU-Edwardsville Cougars (7-10, 3-3 Ohio Valley) RPI: 213, KenPom: 311 – Edwardsville split a pair of home games last week, one of them coming against another Purdue opponent. They lost to Belmont (the highest rated team in their league) 76-61, but beat Tennessee State 82-79.

Chicago State Cougars (2-18, 0-3 WAC) RPI: 308, KenPom: 345 – The Cougars have yet to win a Division I game. Their losing streak overall is now at 14 in a row after losing 67-64 at Seattle and 83-58 at Utah Valley.

Marquette Golden Eagles (13-6, 4-3 Big East) RPI: 37, KenPom: 43 – Currently, the Big East has seven teams in the top 40 of the RPI, so with them all playing each other Purdue is naturally going to get a boost since it has two wins over those seven teams. Marquette lost at Butler on Friday 94-83, but that is fine since Butler (as a neutral floor opponent) has a smaller margin for error when it comes to their RPI standing for us. We only need Marquette to stay in the top 75. Butler must stay in the top 50. Marquette did recover to beat DePaul 70-52, but they have a big game tonight at Xavier.

Fairfield Stags (6-11, 1-5 MAAC) RPI: 227, KenPom: 225 – Fairfield has now lost five in a row after opening conference play with a win. They lost at home to Manhattan 59-53, then fell at Marist 95-89.

Tennessee Volunteers (12-4, 3-2 SEC) RPI: 12, KenPom: 13 – If you want a concern Tennessee is technically the best team Purdue has played according to KenPom and the RPI. The Boilers still should have won with better defense at the end of regulation. The Vols beat Texas A&M 75-62 on Saturday and travel to Missouri tonight.

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (13-5, 5-0 Conference USA) RPI: 40, KenPom: 50 – Not only has Western Kentucky held up as not a bad loss, they have now climbed into tier 1 according to both the RPI and KenPom. They are a legitimate at large contender, and they lead Conference USA at 5-0 after beating Old Dominion 75-68 and Charlotte 73-63. As well as Purdue is playing, Western Kentucky fans have to be elated because that only makes their at large chances stronger since they were the last team to beat us. We are their only tier 1 win, but it is an excellent win for them.

Arizona Wildcats (14-4, 4-1 Pac-12) RPI: 20, KenPom: 24 – Arizona is leading the Pac-12 in a tie with Stanford after sweeping Oregon State 62-53 and Oregon 90-83. That tie will be broken this weekend as they go to the Bay Area schools. They are looking like one of the best teams in the country, and we have a 25 point win over them.

Louisville Cardinals (14-4, 4-1 ACC) RPI: 17, KenPom: 33 – With three very good wins in the last 7 days Louisville made a big jump to become a Tier 1 win for us. Remember: Since we beat them in Mackey Arena they have to be in the top 30 to be a tier 1 win. this could be confusing later when Maryland is hovering around the 50 line and the game against them in College park is considered Tier 1, but the game in mackey Arena would be considered Tier 2. For the Cardinals, they won at Florida State 73-69 last week, at home against Virginia Tech 94-86, and at Notre Dame last night 82-78 in overtime. The Florida State and Notre Dame wins are their first two Tier 1 wins of the season. They trail first place Virginia by a game in the ACC.

Valparaiso Crusaders (11-8, 2-4 MVC) RPI: 140, KenPom: 148 – It was kind of a middling week for Valpo. They beat Drake 77-60 at home, but lost at Northern Iowa (who has really struggled since Atlantis) 81-76.

IUPUI Jaguars (7-11, 4-3 Horizon League) RPI: 270, KenPom: 261 – After finally playing some home games the Jags are making a charge in the Horizon League. They won three games at home this past week: 72-71 over Milwaukee, 67-61 over Green Bay, and 81-66 over Detroit.

Butler Bulldogs (13-7, 3-4 Big East) RPI: 33, KenPom: 44 – Butler is only 2-7 against Tier 1 teams, but they are hanging in there with a tough schedule. The win over Ohio State looks better every day, too. As mentioned, they beat Marquette last Friday, but Monday night they lost at Providence 70-60.

Tennessee St. Tigers (7-10, 2-4 Ohio Valley) RPI: 221, KenPom: 230 – I mentioned their loss to SIU-Edwardsville above, but the Tigers did win a game this week. They won 69-65 at Eastern Illinois last Thursday.

Lipscomb Bisons (11-7, 1-2 Atlantic Sun) RPI: 66, KenPom: 167 – Lipscomb had a terrible week, losing at North Florida 1-2-96 and Jacksonville 87-69. Both of those teams were below 200 in the RPI, as is most of their entire conference. Only Lipscomb and 193 Florida Gulf Coast are above the 200 line.