It’s back! Every year I try to track Purdue’s non-conference opponents to see how our overall NCAA profile looks. I try to see which games stay as marquee wins and which can grow into them. As we learned last year, this is a delicate balance. Purdue was 7-4 outside of league play, but lost all four chances at marquee out of conference wins at Texas, at Florida State, and against Notre Dame and Virginia Tech on a neutral floor. Our best out of conference win before March was over Belmont at home, as the Bruins earned the extremely rare at large bid from the Ohio Valley Conference by going 26-5 before the tourney and splitting with Murray State.
The four losses were “quality” losses, however. Notre Dame is a major conference team and Virginia Tech and Florida State were both solidly in the NCAA field. Texas eventually won the NIT, so it was not a horrible road loss. Purdue still earned a three seed thanks to its tough schedule and good computer numbers, plus the Big Ten regular season title. This season might be better. Yes, Purdue does have three losses already, but it is playing an even harder non-conference schedule and it has two excellent wins on its resume.
Purdue Boilermakers Profile
Record: 5-3, 0-0 Big Ten
Tier 1 Wins (KenPom) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 10 Virginia (Home), 35 VCU (Neutral)
Tier 2 Wins (KenPom): Home 31-75 Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: None
Tier 1 Wins (NET) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 1 Virginia (Home) , 34 VCU (Neutral)
Tier 2: Home 31-75 (NET) Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: None
Bad Losses (sub-100 NET OR KenPom): None
Green Bay Phoenix (5-3, 0-0 Horizon League) – NET: 221, KenPom: 202 – Green Bay only has Division I wins over Cal State Northridge and Montana State. They have played some decent opponents, however, in Purdue, Xavier, and Wisconsin.
Texas Longhorns (7-1, 0-0 Big 12) – NET: 38, KenPom: 46 – The only team other than Purdue to win in Mackey Arena in almost two years, Texas definitely is using us as a marquee win. Their one loss was by 16 to Georgetown in the 4K Empire Classic. Their next best win is over 5-3 California, and their non-conference schedule this season is not nearly as tough as last year. The win in Mackey for them is like gold.
Marquette Golden Eagles (6-2, 0-0 Big East) – NET: 28, KenPom: 30 – Because this one was on the road it could have been even better, but Purdue’s worst half of basketball this season cost us a big win. Marquette lost at Wisconsin by 16 and to Maryland in Orlando by 21, but has the good win over Purdue as well as a nice one over USC in Orlando. They can get a solid road win on Saturday at Kansas State.
Chicago State Cougars (4-6, 0-0 WAC) – NET: 353, KenPom: 352 – Three of Chicago State’s wins are over non-Division I teams, but this is a team that only won three games period in each of the last two seasons. They also won a game away from home! Their 89-81 win at SIU-Edwardsville last night broke a 53-game losing streak away from their home court. It was just shy of the NCAA record of 56 straight road or neutral site losses. They had not won away from home since January 12, 2017 at Utah Valley. It was enough to get them out of last place in KenPom, so who is your master now, Mississippi Valley State?
Jacksonville State (2-5, 0-0 Ohio Valley) – NET: 130, KenPom: 235 – The Gamecocks have just one Division I win right now, and it was over Chicago State this past weekend in Niceville. Unfortunately, they lost too much from last year’s near NCAA team.
Virginia Commonwealth Rams (6-2, 0-0 Atlantic 10) – NET: 34, KenPom: 35 – As a neutral site game this will age like a fine wine. VCU lost both games in Niceville by 3, but they have a really strong win over LSU already. They have a tough game left at Wichita State, but they are one of the favorites in the Atlantic 10 and can be a top 25 team again soon.
Florida State Seminoles (7-2, 0-1 ACC) – NET: 16, KenPom: 18 – For the second straight season Purdue could not close the deal against FSU in the closing seconds. The Seminoles then compounded the frustration by having a defensive no show at Indiana, giving the Hoosiers their first win over a real team this year. They have a good win at Florida, but some questionable losses at Pitt and Indiana based on the NET rankings. Their Tennessee win is also really good.
Virginia Cavaliers (7-1, 1-0 ACC) – NET: 1, KenPom: 10 – Once Virginia gets Braxton Key back and they figure out some things offensively this will be an excellent win. This is still the nation’s best defensive team according to KenPom and Purdue shredded it for 69 points. By comparison, in their previous 7 games they had given up 34, 34, 42, 55, 46, 45, and 26. The Cavaliers have a win at Syracuse, a nice neutral court win over Arizona State, and a sneaky good win over a Vermont team that will wreck someone’s shit in March. On Sunday they host North Carolina, but unless they fall off a cliff this will be a great win.
Ohio Bobcats (6-3, 0-0 MAC) – NET: 175, KenPom: 179 – Always, Always, ALWAYS be leery of playing a mid-major on the road, no matter how good they are. Yes, since this is a true road game it is a slight boost. It probably will be tier 3 as opposed to tier 4. Maybe it even climbs to tier 2. The Bobcats have two non-Division I wins, but have lost to Villanova, Utah, and Baylor all by double digits. Their best win right now is at St. Bonaventure by 12.
Butler Bulldogs (8-0, 0-0 Big East) – NET: 64, KenPom: 17 – Getting a win over Butler in two weeks in Indy would get Purdue to 3-3 against its six major foes in non-conference play, which is pretty good all things considered. It would give us three excellent out of conference wins, which is three more than we had last year. Butler is playing well, too. They have a home win over Minnesota already, neutral wins over Missouri and Stanford, and a win at Mississippi. On Saturday they host Florida before going to Baylor on Tuesday. That will make the Crossroads game really interesting.
Central Michigan Chippewas (6-2, 0-0 MAC) – NET: 113, KenPom: 157 – Central Michigan has three non-Division I wins and has lost both of it’s games against top competition at Minnesota (82-57) and DePaul (88-75). We can see a good litmus test in a week when they play at Texas.