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Non-Conference Opponents Update: February 21

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Purdue still has a very solid case for a 2 seed.

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

It is nice to talk about these things after a win this week. Sunday night’s three-point win over Penn State has calmed the waters a bit. Purdue still has some maintenance work to do on its NCAA profile, but As of now most projection have us as a 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Beating Illinois and Minnesota, then reaching the final of the Big Ten Tournament, likely locks that up.

Speaking of the Big Ten Tournament, Michigan State’s win last night solidified Purdue’s place there somewhat. Purdue cannot earn the No. 1 seed now and cannot fall to the 4, so it will play in the Friday evening session as either the No. 2 or No. 3 seed. If we win the final two games and Indiana defeats Ohio state Friday night we’re the 2 seed. If Ohio State beats Indiana we will be the 3 seed no matter what, but a piece of the conference regular season title is still available if Wisconsin can be nice and spring a second top 5 upset at home on Sunday over Michigan State. If not, Michigan State wins the conference title outright.

That’s frustrating to be sure. After a 12-0 start it feels kind of empty to not win the Big Ten. It took a lot for it to happen. The putback by Keita Bates-Diop, the hero three by Miles Bridges, and the inexplicable turd left in Madison were Purdue’s fault. Northwestern and Maryland both had big leads on Michigan State at home and collapsed and Rutgers had a shot to beat them in East Lansing in regulation but ran a Rutgers play, so that was out of our hands. Assuming Purdue wins its final two games it will finish 15-3, but it could be the first team to go 15-3 without at least share of the conference title since… Purdue in 2008. In fact, our record would be better than last year’s 14-4 that won the league title by 2 games.

It is out of our hands though. What is in our hands is our NCAA seeding. As I said, most projections have us as a 2 seed right now which is very, very good. We’re currently 6-3 against tier 1 teams and if we win the Big Ten Tournament with wins over Ohio State and Michigan State that would improve to 8-3. With a little more help from Louisville getting into the top 30 that can expand to 9-3. At that point the only team with more tier 1 teams in America would be Kansas. As it stands now, here are your best teams in terms of tier 1 wins (per RPI):

Kansas 10-4

Virginia 8-1

Villanova 8-1

Xavier 7-4

North Carolina 9-5

Auburn 7-3

Purdue 6-3

West Virginia 6-6

Alabama 6-6

Oklahoma 6-8

Purdue fans should love KenPom even more because then our record expands to 8-3 against Tier 1 because Penn State is at 25 (home wins are tier 1 vs. 1-30) and Indiana is at 73 (road wins are tier 1 vs. 1-75). Penn State is a very odd case for the differences between RPI and KenPom. per RPI, they are at 76, so they would fall on tier 3 for us. per KenPom they are at 25 and on tier 1. Tonight they host Michigan, and it probably does us better to keep them on tier 1 since we beat them twice.

I say this because the back door to a No. 1 seed might not be totally closed. Sure, it would take winning out through the Big Ten Tournament and wins over both Ohio State and Michigan State there, but at that point we would be likely 8-3 vs. tier 1 in RPI and 10-3 per KenPom (I say that because Michigan is currently at 30 in the RPI, the last spot where our home win can be considered tier 1). Virginia and Villanova probably have two of the four 1 seeds locked up, but Michigan State, Xavier, Kansas, Duke, Purdue, and Auburn are all jockeying for those other two spots. Sure, it is probably about a 3% chance, but with stumbles elsewhere (and Michigan State is only 3-3 vs. tier 1) you never know.

Purdue Boilermakers Profile

Record: 24-5, 13-3 Big Ten

RPI: 11 (Up 1 from last week)

KenPom: 6 (Down 2 from last week)

Tier 1 Wins (KenPom) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 20 Butler (neutral), 23 Arizona (neutral), 24 Michigan (away), 24 Michigan (home), 25 Penn State (home), 36 Maryland (away), 50 Marquette (away), 73 Indiana (away)

Tier 2 Wins (KenPom): Home 31-75 Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 32 Louisville (home), 36 Maryland (home), 56 Nebraska (home), 99 Iowa (away), 106 Minnesota (away),

Tier 1 Wins (RPI) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 18 Arizona (neutral), 30 Michigan (away), 30 Michigan (home), 33 Butler (neutral), 60 Marquette (away), 61 Maryland (away)

Tier 2: Home 31-75 (RPI) Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 51 Louisville (home), 58 Nebraska (home), 61 Maryland (home), 103 Indiana (away)

Bad Losses (sub-100 RPI OR KenPom): at Wisconsin (131 RPI, 85 KenPom)

SIU-Edwardsville Cougars (9-18, 5-11 Ohio Valley) RPI: 266, KenPom: 318 – The Cougars got a split this week. They won 70-69 at Tennessee-Martin but lost 79-74 at SE Missouri State.

Chicago State Cougars (2-26, 0-11 WAC) RPI: 338, KenPom: 348 – Chicago State played only one game this week, a 76-67 loss at Missouri-Kansas City. They have lost 22 in a row and still lack a Division I win.

Marquette Golden Eagles (15-11, 6-8 Big East) RPI: 60, KenPom: 50 – Saturday’s 90-86 win at Creighton was much needed. It brought the Golden Eagles to 4-8 vs. tier 1 and at least salvaged their at large chances a little. They are still likely a longshot, but a win over St. John’s at home tonight would help even more.

Fairfield Stags (12-15, 7-9 MAAC) RPI: 206, KenPom: 224 – Fairfield gets a modest boost this week with wins over Marist (83-79) and Quinnipiac (102-98). They could get a decent seed in their conference tournament still.

Tennessee Volunteers (19-7, 9-5 SEC) RPI: 13, KenPom: 15 – Tennessee stumbled at Georgia 73-62 in their only game this past week, but they are still an NCAA lock and possible protected top 4 seed. They host Florida tonight.

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (20-7, 12-2 Conference USA) RPI: 57, KenPom: 61 – WKU beat North Texas 105-94 and Rice 85-66 on the road to continue doing everything it can to get into the tournament. Purdue is their lone tier 1 win, but next Thursday at Middle Tennessee is another shot for them. MTSU is currently ranked for the first time ever and a win on the road would likely make WKU an at large team.

Arizona Wildcats (21-6, 11-3 Pac-12) RPI: 18, KenPom: 23 – Arizona earned a season sweep of Arizona State 77-70 last Thursday. With four games left Arizona leads the Pac-12 by two games and a sweep of the Oregon schools on the road this weekend gives them the title. On Selection Sunday a 25-point win over a major conference champ (with the potential No. 1 overall pick) is going to look VERY good. Purdue is the only team to beat Arizona by double digits.

Louisville Cardinals (18-9, 8-6 ACC) RPI: 51, KenPom: 32 – Louisville lost 93-76 at home to north Carolina on Saturday, making htem 3-5 over their last 8. They have a lot of chances to improve their profile, however. Tonight they are at Duke, and next Thursday they host Virginia. They also go to Virginia Tech and North Carolina State yet.

Valparaiso Crusaders (14-16, 5-12 MVC) RPI: 185, KenPom: 159 – Valpo’s first season in the MVC has not gone well. They lost last Wednesday at league leader (and possible at large team) Loyola-Chicago 80-71, but beat Bradley at home 77-64. They then lost at home to Northern Iowa 68-63.

IUPUI Jaguars (10-17, 7-9 Horizon League) RPI: 302, KenPom: 295 – Your big mover this week is IUPUI, who beat Milwaukee 76-71 and Oakland 74-67. They can still earn a top 4 seed in the Horizon league Tournament.

Butler Bulldogs (19-10, 9-7 Big East) RPI: 33, KenPom: 20 – This is technically Purdue’s best win according to KenPom. After beating Providence 69-54 and Creighton 93-70 the Bulldogs are likely and NCAA lock. They also have a week off now before playing at St. John’s.

Tennessee St. Tigers (15-12, 10-6 Ohio Valley) RPI: 171, KenPom: 189 – Tennessee State’s winning streak reached 7 games with an 83-74 win over Morehead State, but then Eastern Kentucky snapped it 72-59 on Saturday. They can still earn the 3 seed in their league tournament and they are one of two teams to beat league leader Belmont.

Lipscomb Bisons (19-9, 9-4 Atlantic Sun) RPI: 104, KenPom: 172 – Lipscomb is coming together at the right time. They beat Stetson 82-73 last Thursday then upset league leader Florida Gulf Coast 90-87 on the road on Saturday. They have one game left, but they will be the 2 seed in the Atlantic Sun Tournament behind FGCU and the teams split the regular season series with each winning on the other’s home floor. They probably have the closest profile to the type of team Purdue will play in round one of the NCAAs.

Wins over likely NCAA teams: Butler, Louisville, Arizona, Michigan x2

Wins over NCAA Bubble teams: Nebraska, Maryland x2, Marquette, Penn State

Wins over possible Auto-bid teams: Lipscomb, Tennessee State