We’re in the home stretch now. It is hard to believe that in less than 4 weeks the regular season will be over thanks to Jim Delaney’s moronic decision to move the Big Ten Tournament to New York and the World’s Most Overrated Arena. The compressed schedule, combined with the new FOX deal, has seen Big Ten games on almost every night of the week. Purdue has been rather lucky in this though. We have had only one unusual Friday game, and that was on December 1st. Yes, we played SIU-Edwardsville and Arizona on a Friday, but that was the season opener and a Thanksgiving tournament. We also did not get put on a Monday anywhere, and this business of three games in six days like almost everyone else has had has been mostly avoided.
We have mostly sacrificed in season byes for a straight run through the conference and a lengthy rest period before the NCAAs. Will this be a benefit or a curse? The good news is it seems most likely that we will be an overwhelming favorite against a 15 or 16 seed in round one. That gives us a game to get any rust off after what could be as much as a 14 day layoff. This group of seniors doesn’t seem like the type to lose its focus, either.
Overall, our profile still looks very strong for a No. 1 seed. We still own 6 tier 1 victories and Michigan at No. 36 in the RPI is very close to getting into the top 30, meaning our home win over them would also then be a tier 1 win. Purdue is 6-2 in tier 1 games, with Clemson (6-4), Oklahoma (6-4), and Kansas (7-2) being the only teams 6 or more such wins. Arizona has also now moved into the top 10 and that 25 point win over the Wildcats looks really good.
We’re getting to the point where it will be hard to lose a No. 1 seed. If Purdue wins the Big Ten at 17-1 it is likely the Big Ten Tournament will mean very little in terms of our overall profile. Five of our remaining eight games are against sub-100 RPI teams, and two of the three top 100 games are at home, starting tonight with Maryland. As long as we take care of business at home and don’t have a bad loss at a place like Rutgers or Illinois we’ll be fine.
Purdue Boilermakers Profile
Record: 21-2, 10-0 Big Ten
RPI: 8 (Up 3 from last week)
KenPom: 3 (Down 1 from last week)
Tier 1 Wins (KenPom) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 23 Michigan (away), 23 Michigan (home), 25 Arizona (neutral), 30 Butler (neutral), 39 Marquette (away), 42 Maryland (away),
Tier 2 Wins (KenPom): Home 31-75 Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 31 Louisville (home), 57 Nebraska (home), 90 Minnesota (away), 91 Indiana (away), 94 Iowa (away),
Tier 1 Wins (RPI) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 14 Arizona (neutral), 20 Louisville (home), 31 Butler (neutral), 36 Michigan (away) 47 Marquette (away), 59 Maryland (away)
Tier 2: Home 31-75 (RPI) Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 36 Michigan (home) 58 Nebraska (home), 108 Minnesota (away), 113 Indiana (away)
Bad Losses (sub-100 RPI OR KenPom): None
SIU-Edwardsville Cougars (7-14, 3-7 Ohio Valley) RPI: 258, KenPom: 326 – It was a two loss week for Edwardsville, as they are well off the pace in their conference. They lost at fellow Purdue opponent Tennessee State 85-57 and at league leader Belmont 83-72.
Chicago State Cougars (2-21, 0-6 WAC) RPI: 327, KenPom: 346 – This continues to be a program that has no business at the Division I level. They only played once this week and lost 87-81 at Texas-Rio Grande Valley. It is the first time they have played a team within 10 points since late November.
Marquette Golden Eagles (13-8, 4-5 Big East) RPI: 47, KenPom: 39 – Marquette lost a pair of games last week, but it did little damage as it was at Xavier (89-70) and at home to Villanova (85-82). Had they pulled it off at home against Villanova Purdue would have wins over both teams with wins over the Wildcats. Tonight Marquette hosts Butler.
Fairfield Stags (8-13, 3-7 MAAC) RPI: 216, KenPom: 214 – The Stags earned a split within the past week. They lost 75-70 to Quinnipiac on a neutral floor in Uniondale, NY, but got a decent 103-100 win at home over Iona.
Tennessee Volunteers (15-5, 6-3 SEC) RPI: 13, KenPom: 10 – Tennessee continues to be the strongest team Purdue has played according to KenPom, and the only one stronger we have scheduled is Michigan State at 5. The Volunteers got a nice road win at Iowa State in the Big 12-SEC Challenge 68-45 on Saturday. Tonight they host LSU.
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (15-6, 7-1 Conference USA) RPI: 41, KenPom: 48 – If WKU is going to get an at large bid it will come off of “hey, we were the last team to beat Purdue before they reeled off a school record streak of wins”. This week they beat Marshall 85-74 to stay in a three-way battle atop Conference USA with Middle Tennessee and Old Dominion.
Arizona Wildcats (18-4, 8-1 Pac-12) RPI: 14, KenPom: 25 – Having a 25-point win over the clear leader in a major conference is very good. Arizona avenged its lone loss since Purdue with an 80-71 home win over Colorado. They also won at home over Utah 74-73. If they sweep the Washington schools this week they will likely decide the Pac-12 next week when they host the southern California schools.
Louisville Cardinals (16-5, 6-2 ACC) RPI: 20, KenPom: 31 – Louisville dropped an overtime game at Miami last Wednesday 78-75 but did win at home 96-77 over Wake Forest on the weekend. They could do themselves (and us) a big favor in the ACC race tonight when they play at Virginia.
Valparaiso Crusaders (11-12, 2-8 MVC) RPI: 185, KenPom: 172 – After starting the year 8-0 Valparaiso has gone just 3-12. This week they lost at home to Evansville 75-65 and at Illinois State 76-65.
IUPUI Jaguars (7-14, 4-6 Horizon League) RPI: 309, KenPom: 301 – The Hoosiermakers only played once in the past week, and it was a 71-62 loss at Illinois-Chicago.
Butler Bulldogs (15-7, 5-4 Big East) RPI: 31, KenPom: 30 – Butler did not get much form its only game this past week. The Bulldogs beat St. John’s, who is winless in Big East play, 7-45 at Hinkle on Saturday. As mentioned, they are at Marquette tonight.
Tennessee St. Tigers (10-11, 5-5 Ohio Valley) RPI: 208, KenPom: 216 – The Tigers are creeping close to .500. In addition to the above mentioned win over SIU-Edwardsville they beat Eastern Illinois 50-47.
Lipscomb Bisons (15-7, 5-3 Atlantic Sun) RPI: 91, KenPom: 181 – Lipscomb has shaken off its slow start in Atlantic Sun play to win four in a row. This past week they beat South Carolina Upstate 92-78, NJIT 86-79, and USC-Upstate again 110-106. They continue to have the highest RPI in their league by far, but they trailed Florida Gulf Coast by three games.