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Non-Conference Opponents’ Update: February 20

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We can now say with certainty Purdue will play in the 2019 NCAA Tournament.

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Indiana Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

I believe that as of last night we officially reached a turning point. Purdue is now 19-7 on the season and holds seven tier 1 victories. Even if we lose the final five games and our first game in the Big Ten Tournament we will still be in the NCAA Tournament. At 19-13, with a very weak Bubble this year, we would be a lock in the field. While that is unlikely and we would enter the tournament with zero momentum, that was always the first goal of the year: to simply make the tournament.

That is now assured.

Purdue is now playing for a Big Ten regular season title and a top 4 seed. Both of those are still very much in play. Most projections have us as a three seed as of right now, but moving up will not be easy. It would probably take an outright regular season title to move up to the 2 line. Duke, Virginia, and Gonzaga have a stranglehold on the 1 seeds right now. Tennessee and Kentucky are locked in a battle for the fourth 1 seed. North Carolina, Michigan, and Michigan State are pretty comfortable 2 seeds, but could still fall. Purdue is in a group with Marquette, Kansas, and Houston as 3 seeds, with LSU, Nevada, Texas Tech, and Iowa State as the likely 4 seeds right now.

So how do these teams stack up in terms of tier 1 wins?

Duke: 7-1

Virginia: 8-2

Gonzaga: 4-2

Kentucky: 8-3

Tennessee: 4-2

Michigan: 6-3

Michigan State: 10-3

North Carolina: 5-5

Houston: 5-1

Purdue: 7-6

Marquette: 7-3

Kansas: 9-5

Iowa State: 5-4

LSU: 6-3

Nevada: 0-0

Texas Tech: 4-5

Purdue is among a group of five teams that have played 13 or more tier 1 games. Only Kansas (9-5) and Penn State (2-12) have played more, while Michigan State and Oklahoma State (1-12) have played 13. Purdue’s 7 tier 1 wins trail only Virginia, Kentucky, Michigan State, and Kansas. We still have two more chances at tier 1 wins at Minnesota and Nebraska, while Northwestern at 78 in the NET rankings is very close. Nebraska at 38 is also somewhat close, and if they turn it around they could play their way into the top 30 and make our home win over them a tier 1 win.

Purdue could finish the season with 10 or more 10 tier 1 wins depending on how the Big Ten Tournament goes. That might be enough to lift us to a 2 seed.

Record: 19-7, 12-3 Big Ten

NET: 12 (Down 2 from last Week)

KenPom: 10 (Down 1 from last week)

Tier 1 Wins (KenPom) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 4 Michigan State (Home), 11 Wisconsin (Away), 20 Maryland (Home), 28 Iowa (Home), 37 Ohio State (Away), 47 Indiana (Away), 48 Penn State (Away)

Tier 2 Wins (KenPom): Home 31-75 Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 41 Nebraska (Home), 47 Indiana (Home), 46 Minnesota (Home), 48 Penn State (Home), 64 Belmont (Home), 78 Davidson (Neutral)

Tier 1 Wins (NET) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 7 Michigan State (Home), 15 Wisconsin (Away), 23 Maryland (Home), 28 Iowa (Home), 45 Ohio State (Away), 55 Indiana (Away), 70 Penn State (Away)

Tier 2: Home 31-75 (NET) Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 38 Nebraska (Home), 55 Indiana (Home), 51 Minnesota (Home), 67 Davidson (Neutral), 59 Belmont (Home), 70 Penn State (Home)

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

Fairfield Stags (7-20, 4-11 MAAC) NET: 300, KenPom: 305 – The Stags had a pair of narrow losses this week, losing at Canisius 72-68 on Friday and at Niagara 78-73 on Sunday.

Ball State Cardinals (14-12, 5-8 MAC) NET: 113, KenPom 117 – The Cards had a pair of close games this week, beating Akron 57-56 but losing at Miami (OH) 69-66. They continue to be a disappointment in the MAC, but have the talent to make a MAC tourney run.

Appalachian State Mountaineers (9-16, 4-8 Sun Belt) NET: 209, KenPom: 192 – The Mountaineers have only played once in the last week, but it was an 88-79 win over Coastal Carolina.

Davidson Wildcats (19-7, 10-3 Atlantic 10) NET: 67, KenPom: 75 – Davidson beat St. Joseph’s over the weekend 80-72, but suffered a tough home loss last night to Dayton 74-73 that damaged their at large hopes. They trail VCU by a game now in the Atlantic 10 standings, but still have an at large chance if they win out.

Virginia Tech Hokies (20-6, 9-5 ACC) NET: 16, KenPom: 12 – It is odd that Virginia Tech has slipped behind us in seeding even after a busy week, but they are just 3-6 against tier 1. We happen to be one of their very, very good wins, too. This week they beat Georgia Tech 76-68 and Pittsburgh 70-64, but lost to Virginia 64-58.

Robert Morris Colonials (13-14, 8-6 NEC) NET: 267, KenPom: 266 – After leading their conference the Colonials have now lost 5 of their last six and are in a five-way tie for second place of this very weak league. They lost 76-62 to a very bad Mount St. Mary’s team and a game with first place on the line at St. Francis (PA) 72-69. The winner of this league is almost certainly headed to Dayton.

Florida State Seminoles (21-5, 9-4 ACC) NET: 21, KenPom: 19 – A three-game week saw the Seminoles win all three games to stay alive in the ACC. They beat Wake Forest 88-66, Georgia Tech 69-47, and Clemson 77-64. Purdue’s one-point loss in Tallahassee is probably costing us a seed line right now.

Texas Longhorns (15-11, 7-6 Big 12) NET: 35, KenPom: 26 – The Longhorns continue to have a really strong computer profile and strength of schedule. They beat Oklahoma State 69-57 for their only game this week, but have two tough games this coming week at Oklahoma and Baylor.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (13-13, 3-10 ACC) NET: 91, KenPom: 94 – This is definitely Purdue’s worst loss, but the strength of the ACC is keeping them on tier 2 at the moment. They lost this week at Virginia 60-54 and at home to Wake Forest 75-68. Ironically, Purdue has as many losses to ACC teams as it does Big Ten teams, so hopefully we don’t see an ACC team in March.

Ohio Bobcats (11-14, 3-10 MAC) NET: 201, KenPom: 219 – the Bobcats dropped two more games this week. They lost at Central Michigan 87-80 and at Buffalo 114-67.

Belmont Bruins (21-4, 12-2 Ohio Valley) NET: 59, KenPom: 64 – Like Davidson, Belmont is now on ESPN’s Bubble Watch. They beat Tennessee State 77-66 and Tennessee Tech 93-65 to stay atop the OVC standings tied with Murray State. Belmont holds the tiebreaker, however, with their win at Murray State. If they win out they will definitely be in the at large conversation.