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Non-Conference Opponents Update: January 30

Purdue is solidly in the NCAA Tournament after an excellent week.

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

I was stunned this week when Joe Lunardi’s ESPN bracket moved Purdue all the way to a 3 seed. After the Notre Dame game there were legitimate doubts as to if this team could even make the NCAA Tournament. Now we’re possible a top 12 seed and could potentially play even higher? It is an amazing turnaround.

Barring a complete collapse we’re making the NCAA Tournament at this point. We have enough quality wins that as long as we take care of business against the Penn States, the struggling Nebraskas, and the Illinois left on the schedule we should be completely fine. We’re playing for a favorable seed now and a solid path towards aa third straight Sweet 16.

There is also that whole Big Ten title thing, too.

We’re a ways away from that, but because of our strength of schedule the computer numbers absolutely love us. None of our losses are anywhere close to qualifying as a “bad” one, especially with Texas beating Kansas last night. If anything, they help because they don’t count against our Big Ten record. We were able to learn some lessons and take some lumps without them coming in conference play. Since I think it is harder to win a Big Ten regular season title than reach a Final Four we can accomplish quite a bit this season.

Yes, that is a bold statement, but think about it: We have 20 games in Big Ten play, half of them in hostile road environments. It is a 2.5 month marathon where you’re probably going to have to win 16 times (and a bare minimum 6 of them on the road) just to have a chance at the title. Is that harder than hoping you get hot and winning four straight games at the right time (when you have as little as 48 hours prep for two of those opponents)?

That can be a discussion for later, but for now we’re setting ourselves up well for a potential run.

Record: 14-6, 7-2 Big Ten

NET: 11

KenPom: 8

Tier 1 Wins (KenPom) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 3 Michigan State (Home), 10 Wisconsin (Away), 19 Maryland (Home), 30 Iowa (Home), 33 Ohio State (Away)

Tier 2 Wins (KenPom): Home 31-75 Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 45 Indiana (Home), 69 Belmont (Home), 84 Davidson (Neutral)

Tier 1 Wins (NET) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 6 Michigan State (Home), 12 Wisconsin (Away), 21 Maryland (Home), 27 Iowa (Home), 38 Ohio State (Away)

Tier 2: Home 31-75 (NET) Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 44 Indiana (Home), 68 Davidson (Neutral), 69 Belmont (Home)

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

Fairfield Stags (6-15, 3-6 MAAC) NET: 275, KenPom: 274 – Purdue’s season opener was a clear buy game. They earned a split this week by beating Iona 80-68, but they lost to Siena 57-48.

Ball State Cardinals (11-10, 2-6 MAC) NET: 102, KenPom 103 – The Cards have been very disappointing this year after what appeared to be a promising start. They lost both games this week, 78-74 at Ohio and last night at No. 18 Buffalo 83-59. They are not the MAC contender we thought they would be.

Appalachian State Mountaineers (6-14, 1-4 Sun Belt) NET: 260, KenPom: 226 – After losing in overtime to Arkansas State 82-81 the Mountaineers finally broke their seven game losing streak by beating Little Rock 77-73. Good. Someone beat Little Rock.

Davidson Wildcats (15-5, 6-1 Atlantic 10) NET: 68, KenPom: 84 – After two wins this past week Davidson is creeping closer and closer to the top 50 and the NET rankings, meaning they could play themselves into being a top tier victory for us. They beat George Washington 73-62 before getting a very good 54-53 win at St. Louis. They are tied with George Mason for first place in the loss column of the Atlantic 10.

Virginia Tech Hokies (16-3, 5-2 ACC) NET: 10, KenPom: 11 – The Hokies have only played once since last Wednesday, but it was a comfortable 78-56 win at home over Syracuse. Tonight they play at Miami, who is struggling big time this year.

Robert Morris Colonials (12-9, 7-1 NEC) NET: 230, KenPom: 239 – The computer numbers are never going to be great, but Bob Morris could be the NEC’s autobid team and league champion. After beating Wagner 57-51 and Sacred Heart 72-64 they have a two game lead in this conference. Sure, they’ll be lucky to avoid Dayton if they get in, but they can get in. At least cosmetically it would be a nice little win.

Florida State Seminoles (15-5, 3-4 ACC) NET: 32, KenPom: 25 – Florida State stabilized itself with a 78-66 win at Miami over the weekend, earning a season sweep of the Hurricanes. They are off until hosting Georgia Tech on Saturday.

Texas Longhorns (12-9, 4-5 Big 12) NET: 40, KenPom: 32– Texas is going to have one of the most interesting profiles on selection Sunday. They got a great home win over Kansas last night 73-63, but lost at a middling Georgia team 98-88 over the weekend. They also lost at TCU late last week 65-61. They have some very good wins over North Carolina, Kansas, and Purdue, but have some bad losses to Radford and Georgia.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (11-10, 1-7 ACC) NET: 95, KenPom: 93 – Notre Dame has been decimated by injuries and is really struggling in the ACC. Of course, most teams would struggle playing Virginia (82-55) and Duke (83-61) int heir last two games.

Ohio Bobcats (11-9, 3-5 MAC) NET: 170, KenPom: 183 – Ohio can play its way into tier 3, which is a very small bonus. They had the above mentioned win over Ball State, but lost at Northern Illinois 71-60. With two games left against nationally ranked Buffalo they can get a rare MAC schedule boost there.

Belmont Bruins (15-4, 6-2 Ohio Valley) NET: 69, KenPom: 69– This is officially a nice home win. With two wins over bitter rival Lipscomb they have they’re own profile improving since Lipscomb is rated 36 in the NET rankings. They got a second tier 1 win (since one of the Lipscomb wins was at home that one is only tier 2) by winning at Murray State 79-66. They followed that by winning 96-92 at Austin Peay. They trail Jacksonville State and Murray State by a game in the OVC, but could make this a multi-bid league if they win out and Lipscomb continues to play well.