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Non-Conference Opponents Update: January 24

Purdue continues to have a very good NCAA profile thanks to four of the best non-conference wins in America.

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

In about a week, the first bubble watches for the 2018 NCAA Tournament will come out and Purdue will have zero stress. The Boilers should be one of the few first locks to make the NCAAs, as we continue to be a consensus No. 1 seed. Since Monday, Bracket Matrix has improved Purdue from an average seed of 1.13 to 1.04, with only Villanova better at a straight 1.00. Purdue is a No. 1 seed on 87 of their 91 brackets tracked.

That’s a good place to be.

In terms of regular season goals, this week has not gone well. Last night Virginia and Villanova rolled to 20+ point victories, so unless they lose road games this weekend Purdue doesn’t have a shot at its first ever No. 1 ranking on Monday (thought it would be sweet to have them both lose this weekend, then we get to beat Indiana on its home floor to go to No. 1 after also beating Michigan at home). Ohio State continues to be stubborn by not losing, as they are now halfway to a perfect record in conference play. With three home games against Penn State, Indiana, and Illinois, it seems very likely they will come to West Lafayette on February 7th at 12-0 in the league and in the top 10 nationally. They’ll likely be favored in all nine remaining games except at Purdue and maybe at Michigan.

Purdue’s overall profile is slightly diminished this week. We’re one of only three teams in the country that is undefeated in true road games, with St. Mary’s and Ohio State also spotless. In terms of tier 1 wins we still have the most in America, but that number dwindled to six as Minnesota has fallen out of the top 75 with three straight losses. They are now at 105 in the RPI and are showing no signs of getting back into that top tier.

As it stands now, Purdue is tied with Oklahoma and Kansas at six tier 1 wins. Oklahoma has five more chances at tier 1 wins while Kansas has six. Purdue only has two more, but that could fluctuate. Michigan is currently at 36 in the RPI, so the road victory would be considered tier 1 while any home win tomorrow night would be tier 2 unless they play their way into the top 30. The Wolverines could play their way into the top 30, so if we beat them tomorrow we want them to finish strong. Indiana is currently sitting at 95, so they would need a 20 spot jump to get to 75. That means we want Indiana to play as strong as possible after Sunday (perhaps by winning at Ohio State). Maryland is in the same boat as Michigan, but further away from the 30 line at No. 51. The only two teams left on the schedule that would currently be tier 1 wins are Ohio State at 14 and Michigan State at 27.

Purdue Boilermakers Profile

Record: 19-2, 8-0 Big Ten

RPI: 11 (Down 1 from last week)

KenPom: 2 (The same as last week)

Tier 1 Wins (KenPom) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 27 Michigan (away), 25 Arizona (neutral), 41 Maryland (away), 39 Marquette (away), 37 Butler (neutral), 62 Minnesota (away)

Tier 2 Wins (KenPom): Home 31-75 Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 35 Louisville (home), 65 Nebraska (home), 87 Minnesota (away), 93 Iowa (away)

Tier 1 Wins (RPI) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 15 Louisville (home), 19 Arizona (neutral), 36 Michigan (road) 31 Butler (neutral) 46 Marquette (road), 51 Maryland (road)

Tier 2: Home 31-75 (RPI) Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 70 Nebraska (home), 105 Minnesota (away)

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

SIU-Edwardsville Cougars (7-12, 3-5 Ohio Valley) RPI: 249, KenPom: 323 – The Cougars played a pair of home games this week and lost both. Southeast Missouri State beat them 86-74 and Tennessee-Martin edged them 70-69.

Chicago State Cougars (2-20, 0-5 WAC) RPI: 324, KenPom: 348 – According to KenPom Chicago State is only three spots above dead last in the country. In fact, Purdue at No. 2 vs. No. 348 Chicago State is very likely the most lopsided KenPom game that has been played this year. Only Coppin State, Mississippi Valley State, and Delaware State are behind them after Chicago State lost to Grand Canyon (86-58) and Cal State Bakersfield (89-78) this past week. It is very likely Purdue could have benched all five starters back in this game and still won by 25.

Marquette Golden Eagles (13-6, 4-3 Big East) RPI: 46, KenPom: 39 – Oddly, Marquette has not played since last Monday, but they have two very large chances to improve their NCAA standing and to help us out this week. Tonight they go to Xavier and Sunday they host Villanova. Obviously, we would love for them to knock off Villanova at home so we could possibly take the No. 1 ranking.

Fairfield Stags (7-12, 2-6 MAAC) RPI: 226, KenPom: 214 – Fairfield broke its five game losing streak with a 104-85 win over Niagara, but lost to Rider 90-88 last night at home.

Tennessee Volunteers (14-5, 5-3 SEC) RPI: 13, KenPom: 14 – If you want a concern, Tennessee is still technically the best team Purdue has played according to KenPom and the RPI. Last Wednesday they lost a close game at Missouri 59-55, but recovered to win at South Carolina 70-63 and beat Vanderbilt last night 67-62. With a few breaks Tennessee could rise into the “protected” seed category, but they are certainly an NCAA team that could win a game or two.

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (14-6, 6-1 Conference USA) RPI: 45, KenPom: 45 – WKU was leading Conference USA at 6-0 after a 77-69 win over UAB, but lost at home to Middle Tennessee State 66-62 on Saturday. That hurts their at large chances somewhat since MTSU is at No. 24 and it would have been a tier 1 win. They are tied with MTSU and Old Dominion at 6-1 in Conference USA.

Arizona Wildcats (16-4, 6-1 Pac-12) RPI: 19, KenPom: 25 – After winning at both California (79-58) and Stanford (73-71) Arizona is now all alone atop the Pac-12 at 6-1. Tomorrow night they have a chance to avenge their only loss since Purdue when they host Colorado. With no trip to the Southern California schools Arizona could run away with the Pac-12, which is just fine with me. A 25-point win over them is going to look excellent.

Louisville Cardinals (15-4, 5-1 ACC) RPI: 15, KenPom: 35 – Louisville has now won four in a row after beating Boston College 77-69 on Sunday. They are at Miami tonight and next Wednesday they could really help us out with a win at Virginia. They currently sit in second place in the ACC behind Virginia, so by the end of the year Purdue could have wins over the champs of two major conferences.

Valparaiso Crusaders (11-10, 2-6 MVC) RPI: 158, KenPom: 160 – Valpo continues to struggle in its new conference with two more losses. They lost at Paul Lusk’s Missouri State 64-57 and at home to league leader Loyola-Chicago 70-54.

IUPUI Jaguars (7-13, 4-5 Horizon League) RPI: 305, KenPom: 302 – The Jaguars slipped below .500 in the Horizon League this week. They lost at Cleveland State 70-67 and Youngstown State 85-62.

Butler Bulldogs (14-7, 4-4 Big East) RPI: 31, KenPom: 37 – This past week was all about holding serve, and Butler did so in its only game. They avoided a bad loss by beating DePaul 79-67 on the road. This weekend they host St. John’s. It also helps Purdue that we have a win over the only team to beat Villanova.

Tennessee St. Tigers (8-11, 3-5 Ohio Valley) RPI: 215, KenPom: 229 – The Tigers got a split this past week. They beat Austin Peay 70-56 at home before losing at home to Murray State 76-56.

Lipscomb Bisons (12-7, 2-3 Atlantic Sun) RPI: 86, KenPom: 175 – Lipscomb has not gotten off to a good start in conference play, but they remain the highest RPI team in their league by a wide margin. Last Thursday they lost at home to Florida Gulf Coast 88-83. FGCU is probably the only other good team in this league. They did beat Stetson 85-82 to break a three-game losing streak, but they still trail FGCU by 3 games already.