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Non-Conference Opponents’ Update: January 23

Purdue’s NCAA profile can get a nice boost this week.

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

We had an excellent comment from reader Franklin Co in yesterday’s Ohio State preview. He spoke of how tonight’s game is an “opportunity win” for our NCAA profile, and broke it down as follows:

If Purdue gets to 12-8 in league, 19-12 overall, we’re pretty much a lock to make the tourney given our SOS. We have 7 games left we need to win to get there. Those 7 games, in order, are @PSU, Minn, Neb, PSU, Ill, OSU, @NW. Win those 7 and we’re in. So far we’re 4-0 in those games in league play (home games v. Md, Iowa, Rut, Ind)

The other five games (@OSU, MSU, @Md, @Ind, @Neb) are opportunity games. Those games give us some cushion should be stumble in one of the ‘need-to-win’ games above, or improve our seed. We’re 1-2 in these games so far (W @Wis, L @Mich, @MSU), but we got the win in the game we had a legitimate shot in. Realistically there was very little chance of winning @Mich or @MSU. We have no more games like that. But after this week we only have three more ‘opportunity’ games, so winning one of them this week would be huge.

The computer numbers bear out for us. We continue to be in an excellent position to make the NCAAs and maybe even get a decent seed. If I had to choose, I would say a 6 seed would be just about perfect. It allows us to avoid a No. 1 seed as much as possible and a No. 2 until the Sweet 16. We’re good enough to give a 3 seed a game in round 2 and beat an 11 in round 1. It seems unlikely we’re going to play up to a 3 seed unless we go on a crazy run here and win the Big Ten or something, but getting in the 4-7 realm seems possible.

And the opportunities are there. As things stand right now with 13 regular season games left nine of them would qualify as Tier 1 wins in the NET rankings. Penn State at 76 is just one spot out of that category as well (for our road game against them), and Ohio State at 38 is 8 spots out for our home game against them. We’re currently 3-5 in tier 1 games, but more are coming.

Record: 12-6, 4-2 Big Ten

NET: 15

KenPom: 10

Tier 1 Wins (KenPom) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 13 Wisconsin (Away), 18 Maryland (Home), 24 Iowa (Home)

Tier 2 Wins (KenPom): Home 31-75 Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 39 Indiana (Home), 77 Davidson (Neutral)

Tier 1 Wins (NET) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 20 Maryland (Home) 18 Wisconsin (Away), 25 Iowa (Home)

Tier 2: Home 31-75 (NET) Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 34 Indiana (Home), 71 Davidson (Neutral)

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

Fairfield Stags (5-14, 2-5 MAAC) NET: 272, KenPom: 267 – Fairfield dropped both of its games in the past week. They fell at Monmouth 74-57 and lost at home to Canisius 73-68. This is strictly a buy win. No more, no less.

Ball State Cardinals (11-8, 2-4 MAC) NET: 134, KenPom 93 – Ball State needs to be better at home. They won at Central Michigan last week 83-72, but dropped a home game to Miami (OH) and Jack Owens 71-65. Overall they have been a disappointment, but they are a threat to win the MAC tourney and steal the autobid.

Appalachian State Mountaineers (5-13, 0-3 Sun Belt) NET: 292, KenPom: 233 – Appy State is probably the worst team on our schedule, so it is a good thing we handled them with ease. They dropped their sixth straight game last week 89-72 at Coastal Carolina.

Davidson Wildcats (13-5, 4-1 Atlantic 10) NET: 71, KenPom: 77 – Because this came on a neutral court we’re going to get some more value out of it than normal. It may even move up to tier 1 with some help (needs to crack the top 50 in NET). This past week Davidson did its part by beating Richmond 75-62

Virginia Tech Hokies (15-3, 4-2 ACC) NET: 12, KenPom: 11 – Purdue’s schedule is so strong because it has played five teams in the current KenPom top 20 and only one of them (Maryland) at home. Virginia Tech is one of these teams, as they beat Wake Forest 87-71 before losing at North Carolina Monday night 103-82.

Robert Morris Colonials (10-9, 5-1 NEC) NET: 246, KenPom: 244 – It is not much, but Robert Morris made a 40 spot jump in this week’s NET rankings with a pair of wins. They beat Bryant 79-65 and Central Connecticut 70-59. At 5-1 they lead the NEC, which is almost certainly going to be a 1-bid 16 seed league.

Florida State Seminoles (14-5, 2-4 ACC) NET: 41, KenPom: 30 – The Seminoles have been slipping a bit and are even out of the AP top 25 this week. They lost at Boston College 87-82 (where even IUPUI won) but bounced back to beat Clemson 77-68.

Texas Longhorns (11-7, 3-3 Big 12) NET: 43, KenPom: 29 – Florida State and Texas have almost identical profiles now and each is a game Purdue probably would win in a rematch if played right now. Texas did get a win over Oklahoma this week 75-72, but they have work to do.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (11-8, 1-5) NET: 78, KenPom: 73 – Let’s face it: this was the worst game we played all season. Notre Dame has now lost five of its last six after losing to North Carolina State 77-73 and Georgia Tech 63-61. They are not a tourney team, but by virtue of being in the ACC their computer numbers will stay strong enough to avoid the dreaded “bad loss” moniker.

Ohio Bobcats (10-8, 2-4 MAC) NET: 155, KenPom: 182 – The Bobcats were another team that got a split this week. They lost at Toledo 75-52 but beat Western Michigan 81-76.

Belmont Bruins (13-4, 4-2 Ohio Valley) NET: 87, KenPom: 98 – Belmont needs to get into the top 75 of the NET rankings so they are at least on tier 2 for us. They lost in overtime 91-80 at Jacksonville State, but beat Tennessee State 92-74. They currently trail Murray State in the conference by two games.