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Non-Conference Opponents Update: January 16

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Purdue is still looking good to make the NCAAs.

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

At the advice of many from last week’s column I am switching things up this week. Instead of using RPI and KenPom rankings I will be using the NET rankings in place of RPI. I know many people mentioned how this is the new metric the committee will be using, and that it is much more indicative of how good a team is than RPI. This is a pretty simple change. The Warren Nolan site I use has the NET rankings and team sheets for everyone, so it makes things even easier.

In terms of our overall profile, the win at Wisconsin was gigantic. It is a victory that will stay at tier one all season long. As we entered overtime it felt like the next five minutes were going to define the season. Win, and Purdue would gain momentum towards the NCAA Tournament. Lose, and it was another missed opportunity.

With 11 overall victories and strong computer numbers we have more than enough to be in NCAA consideration. With nine more victories we will likely be plenty safe on selection Sunday. Anything more and we’re playing for a seed.

We currently have three Tier 1 NET wins: Iowa and Maryland at home and at Wisconsin. Iowa is right on the edge at 28 and we do not get a return game with them in Iowa City, so we want them to continue doing well in conference play. We do have a return game at Maryland and so far they are pretty solidly in tier 1. Obviously is we win in College Park it is great, but it potentially would trade a tier 1 win for a tier 1 win because if they fall to 31 or lower in the NET our home win drops to tier 2, but the road win would stay tier 1.

In the end, the equation is simple; defend home court and steal some road wins. Purdue has seven home games left (Indiana, Michigan State, Penn State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Illinois, and Ohio State). Based on the current NET rankings, three of those teams (Indiana, Michigan State, and Nebraska) would be tier 1 wins. Get two of those three, win the other four, and avoid missteps at Northwestern and Penn State (with Northwestern still a tier 1 road win since they are currently at 58) and we’re at 20 wins and safe.

Purdue Boilermakers Profile

Record: 11-6, 4-2 Big Ten

NET: 20

KenPom: 13

Tier 1 Wins (KenPom) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 16 Wisconsin (Away), 20 Maryland (Home)

Tier 2 Wins (KenPom): Home 31-75 Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 34 Iowa (Home), 80 Davidson (Neutral)

Tier 1 Wins (NET) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 17 Maryland (Home) 19 Wisconsin (Away), 28 Iowa (Home)

Tier 2: Home 31-75 (NET) Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 42 Iowa (Home), 66 Davidson (Neutral)

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

Fairfield Stags (5-12, 2-3 MAAC) NET: 257, KenPom: 237 – Not a lot to say here. Fairfield earned a split last week with a 60-57 win over St. Peter’s, but lost 80-78 at Quinnipiac. Rider is currently the top rated team in this league, which is definitely a one-bid league.

Ball State Cardinals (10-7, 1-3 MAC) NET: 88, KenPom 94 – The Cardinals are off to a poor start in the MAC, which is unfortunate because the MAC could be a multi-bid league this year. Buffalo is getting in regardless and both Toledo and Central Michigan are doing extremely well. Ball State lost at home to Ohio 70-52 and at Bowling Green 79-78, outing them well off the pace even after they had already won at Toledo. It’s too bad too, as this was a tier 2 win as recently as a week ago and still could be.

Appalachian State Mountaineers (5-12, 0-4 Sun Belt) NET: 271, KenPom: 225 – The Mountaineers still have only two wins over Division I teams and have now lost five in a row. They lost to Texas-Arlington 82-72 and Texas State 70-69 this week.

Davidson Wildcats (11-5, 3-1 Atlantic 10) NET: 66, KenPom: 80 – Our best non-conference win is good, but not quite tier 1 unless the Wildcats go on a run in the Atlantic-10. This week they beat George Mason 61-56 and VCU 64-57. Unfortunately, they lost at St. Joseph’s last night 61-60. They currently sit a game back in the loss column behind St. Louis and Dayton in the A-10.

Virginia Tech Hokies (14-2, 3-1 ACC) NET: 8, KenPom: 8 – Virginia Tech was rolling after beating Georgia Tech 52-49, but was strangled to death last night by Virginia 81-59. This is still a great missed opportunity, but it is not a loss that will really punish us much.

Robert Morris Colonials (8-9, 3-1 NEC) NET: 286, KenPom: 282 – Robert Morris got a split this week and is at least 3-1 in their one-bid league. They beat St, Francis (NY) 52-49, but lost to Long Island on the road 80-73. They are currently tied for first place in the NEC, so this is potentially a win over an NCAA team if they get the auto-bid.

Florida State Seminoles (13-4, 1-3 ACC) NET: 34, KenPom: 25 – It was a rough week for the Seminoles. Last Wednesday night they beat Miami 68-62, but they lost at home to Duke 80-78 before taking a bad loss at Pittsburgh 75-62. It is still far from a bad loss, but it is not quite as good of a win as it once could have been.

Texas Longhorns (10-7, 2-3 Big 12) NET: 46, KenPom: 28 – This is also a loss much like Florida State. They have now lost three in a row after losing to Texas Tech 68-62 and Kansas 80-78. In many ways they are mirror-image Purdue in terms of their profile. They have very good wins over North Carolina, Kansas State, and Purdue, but our worst case scenario is being on the Bubble with them and their win over us being a tiebreaker.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (11-6, 1-3) NET: 75, KenPom: 73 – Notre Dame beat Boston College 69-66, but lost a lead at North Carolina last night 75-69. Much like Texas, they could be a Bubble team with us where our game is a de facto tiebreaker. Unlike Texas, they have only one tier 1 win, and that is over us.

Ohio Bobcats (9-7, 1-3 MAC) NET: 146, KenPom: 177 – As mentioned above, the Bobcats got a MAC win over Ball State, but it is their lone conference win to date. They then dropped a home game to Kent State 66-52. This will be a pretty average win when it is all said and done, and it probably will be on tier 3 as a best case.

Belmont Bruins (11-3, 3-1 Ohio Valley) NET: 89, KenPom: 93 – Now this is what we need from Belmont. They got a pair of wins in conference play this week over Morehead State (77-60) and Eastern Kentucky (109-93). They are currently a game behind Murray State, Jacksonville State, and Austin Peay in a surprisingly strong conference, but that is good. The better they do in that league the more likely they can get to tier 2.