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Non-Conference Opponents Update: January 15

A huge win over Michigan State has boosted Purdue significantly, but there is work to do.

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

A week ago at this time Purdue was playing its way out of the tournament. We were all grumbling after the worst effort we had seen from a Purdue team in the modern era. The Illinois loss was bad, but it is safe to say that Purdue responded, however. The Boilers nearly pulled off an excellent road win at Michigan, falling in double overtime. They then dominated a top 10 Michigan State team in a 29-point asskicking.

This Purdue team is so hard to figure out. It has beaten Virginia and Michigan State, last year’s national champion and a Final Four team, by a combined 58 points. It has two more games against Florida State (currently in the top 10) and Michigan where it had the ball and a chance to win at the end of regulation, but could not convert. If Purdue converts both of those chances it is currently 12-5 overall, 4-2 in the Big Ten, and likely 4 seeds higher in its projection.

This Purdue team has also lost to a bad Nebraska team by double digits and scored only 37 points at Illinois. If I had to rate Purdue’s losses from most frustrating to least I would put them as follows:

Nebraska – Just inexcusable to play that poorly against a bad team. There are not many chances for “easy” road wins in conference play. When they have three home losses to mid- or low-majors this was a bad one.

Texas – They ruined the home winning streak and when we have pantsed both Michigan State and Virginia at home I don’t know how we dropped this one. Purdue had the ball up 5 with less than 3 minutes left. In Mackey, that is winning time.

Florida State – The second year in a row where we had a chance to win on the final play and didn’t convert. This would be an excellent resume win right now and we were a play away.

Michigan – Pretty much the same as Florida State, only we had two chances, one in regulation and one in overtime. It feels like we wasted a great night from Trevion Williams, but at least it restored the team’s confidence.

Marquette – To have an 18-point lead on the road late in the first half, then fall apart, was frustrating. This was another missed chance.

Illinois – Sometimes you just have a shitty game. Holding Illinois to 63 points at home should be enough. Obviously, scoring 37 was not.

Butler – The Bulldogs are playing like a No. 1 seed and look excellent. Purdue played like crap and still had it to a 4-point game with a minute left. Imagine if we had decided to play offense in the middle 30 minutes.

So what will it take to reach the NCAA Tournament? Purdue has seven home games left and all are against top 50 teams. That means seven more tier 1 or tier 2 wins, depending on if they fall above or below the 30 line (right now Wisconsin, Michigan, and Rutgers are above it, while Indiana, Penn State, Iowa, and Illinois are just below it). Assuming Purdue holds home court and wins at Northwestern (the one chance left at a bad loss) that would have us at 18-13, 11-9 headed into the Big Ten Tournament. Given the overall strength of the Big Ten this year, that would be more than enough. Any other road win would be gravy, with each road victory likely moving us up a seed line.

So, as usual, just win, especially at home.

Bracket Matrix Consensus: 11 seed

Record: 10-7, 3-3 Big Ten

NET: 35 (Up 16 from last week)

KenPom: 17 (Up 5 from last week)

Tier 1 Wins (KenPom) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 7 Michigan State (Home), 50 VCU (Neutral)

Tier 2 Wins (KenPom): Home 31-75 Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 42 Virginia (home), 39 Minnesota (home)

Tier 1 Wins (NET) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 12 Michigan State (Home), 44 VCU (Neutral)

Tier 2: Home 31-75 (NET) Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 40 Minnesota (Home), 68 Virginia (home)

Bad Losses (sub-100 NET OR KenPom): at Nebraska (157 NET, 129 KenPom)

Green Bay Phoenix (7-11, 2-3 Horizon League) – NET: 244, KenPom: 217 – The Phoenix had just one game since our last update, and it was an 87-80 loss at Milwaukee. We’re not going to get much of a boost here as the Horizon League is very weak. Wright State is the best team at 129.

Texas Longhorns (11-4, 1-2 Big 12) – NET: 68, KenPom: 66 – We continue to be Texas’ best win by a wide margin. This past week they lost 72-62 at home to Oklahoma, but won at home over Kansas State 64-50. They could use a good road win at Oklahoma State tonight.

Marquette Golden Eagles (11-5, 1-3 Big East) – NET: 42, KenPom: 41 – A 69-55 loss at Seton Hall dropped Marquette to 1-3 in the Big East, but they have a chance at a good win tonight when they host Xavier.

Chicago State Cougars (4-15, 0-4 WAC) – NET: 353, KenPom: 353 – Chicago State is officially the worst team in the country according to KenPom and the NET. After a 93-54 loss at New Mexico State and an 87-63 at Texas-Rio Grande Valley they have just one Division I win on the season.

Jacksonville St. Gamecocks (7-10, 2-2 Ohio Valley) – NET: 237, KenPom: 247 – the Gamecocks dropped both games since the last update. They fell 72-68 at home to Murray State and 71-67 at home to Austin Peay. Those are two home wins they needed to keep pace in their conference.

Virginia Commonwealth Rams (12-5, 2-2 Atlantic 10) – NET: 44, KenPom: 50 – The Rams cooled off considerably. They lost at home 65-56 to Rhode Island, then missed out on a chance at an excellent win last night by falling 79-65 at Dayton.

Florida State Seminoles (14-2, 4-1 ACC) – NET: 14, KenPom: 14 – Florida State has had a week off since their 78-68 win at Wake Forest, but they host Virignia tonight in a huge game for our profile.

Virginia Cavaliers (11-4, 3-2 ACC) – NET: 74, KenPom: 42 – Could Virginia miss the tournament a year after winning it? They lost at home in overtime to Syracuse 62-55 on Saturday, and they are 0-1 in Quad 1 games. They could definitely use a win tonight at Florida State, as their computer numbers have faded considerably with consecutive losses to Boston College and Syracuse.

Ohio Bobcats (9-8, 1-3 MAC) – NET: 199, KenPom: 208– So much for Ohio doing well in the MAC to give us a nice little true road win. They lost to Bowling Green 83-74 and at Buffalo 76-73 to fall off the early pace.

Butler Bulldogs (15-1, 3-0 Big East) – NET: 2, KenPom: 4 – A 70-58 win at Providence keeps Butler on the 1 line for most seeding projections. They are an impressive 9-1 against the top two tiers of the NET and host Seton Hall tonight.

Central Michigan Chippewas (10-7, 3-1 MAC) – NET: 173, KenPom: 173 – The Chippewas lost at Kent State 79-73 last week, but beat Toledo 74-67 on the road last night.