I have to admit that I am a bit nervous about tonight. Through 13 games so far we have seen what Purdue can do when everything is working perfectly. That was the Virginia game. We have also seen hat can happen when nothing works. That was the Nebraska game. With 18 games left, all of them against tough conference opponents, Purdue has to find a way to be more consistent in the Virginia way, rather than the Nebraska way.
Right now the Boilermakers are 8-5. They are solidly in the NCAA Tournament with some good wins and just one bad loss. None of the remaining games will be easy, however. Of the 14 teams in the conference 11 are currently in the top 50 of the NET rankings and Indiana, the 12th, is just outside at 51. Only Northwestern at 174 and Nebraska at 175 are totally out of it, and we already know Purdue can lose a game that badly. We won’t get a perceived break until February 1 at Northwestern, as we have a run of eight consecutive top 50 games here.
Things can go bad in a big hurry. If Purdue clicks after the new year just as it has in the past four seasons they can go very well, as well. Int he latest Bracketology Joe Lunardi had Purdue in as a 9 seed. That can quickly go up with the wealth of opportunities ahead. It can also plummet if we go on another stretch of poor shooting like Nebraska, Butler, and Marquette.
As usual, the recipe at this point is winning. We did more than enough against a rough non-conference schedule to be considered. Now it is time to do well in the conference, erase the Nebraska blemish, and climb the ladder. Also, the better that VCU and Virginia do, the more it helps. Those two wins are better than any non-conference win we had last season and we still earned a 3 seed.
Record: 7-5, 1-1 Big Ten
NET: 43 (Up 2 from last week)
KenPom: 12 (Up 1 from last week)
Tier 1 Wins (KenPom) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 30 Virginia (home), 43 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: 45 VCU (Neutral)
Tier 2: Home 31-75 (NET) Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 69 Virginia (Home)
Bad Losses (sub-100 NET OR KenPom): at Nebraska (178 NET, 139 KenPom)
Green Bay Phoenix (6-9, 1-1 Horizon League) – NET: 180, KenPom: 182 – Green by a had a narrow loss at Horizon League power Wright State 90-84 to start conference play, but got a nice road win two nights later at Northern Kentucky 73-59. They have a stretch of five straight home games starting tomorrow night.
Texas Longhorns (10-2, 0-0 Big 12) – NET: 79, KenPom: 61 – The Longhorns dominated High Point (the former school of Jahaad Proctor) 89-58 to move to 10-2, but without any real substance aside from winning at home. They begin Big 12 play on Saturday at #6 Baylor.
Marquette Golden Eagles (10-3, 0-1 Big East) – NET: 31, KenPom: 32 – Marquette, Texas, and Florida State will likely go down more as “missed opportunities” because of the nature of those games. If Purdue had gotten all three, (and they probably should have won two of them) things would look a lot better right now, but they are not bad losses. Marquette blew out Central Arkansas 106-54 on Saturday, but lost their Big East opener at Creighton yesterday 92-75.
Chicago State Cougars (4-11, 0-0 WAC) – NET: 349, KenPom: 352 – Unfortunately, Chicago State still really sucks. They lost at Missouri 91-33 on Monday, but begin conference play at home tonight against Utah Valley.
Jacksonville St. Gamecocks (5-8, 0-0 Ohio Valley) – NET: 261, KenPom: 252 – The Gamecocks got a win this past week, but it was a 120-56 win over something called “Carver Bible College”. Obviously, that is not a D-1 win. They start conference play tonight at Morehead State.
Virginia Commonwealth Rams (10-3, 0-0 Atlantic 10) – NET: 46, KenPom: 43 – The Rams need to do work now in the Atlantic 10. They beat Loyola-Maryland this week 85-51 and start conference play tonight at home against Fordham.
Florida State Seminoles (12-2, 2-1 ACC) – NET: 24, KenPom: 20 – Florida State is back in ACC play already. They beat North Alabama 88-71, then beat Georgia Tech 70-58 on Tuesday. This Saturday they have a very tough game at Louisville. Once again, with he close nature and multiple chances Purdue had to win this one late, this is a missed opportunity game for the second year in a row.
Virginia Cavaliers (10-2, 1-0 ACC) – NET: 73, KenPom: 30 – Do not be worried too much about Virginia’s computer numbers. They will rise significantly in ACC play. They beat Navy 65-56 this week to close out their own non-conference play, but start up in the ACC again on Saturday against rival Virginia Tech.
Ohio Bobcats (8-5, 0-0 MAC) – NET: 181, KenPom: 197– The Bobcats had a home loss to Campbell 63-55 on Sunday, killing any momentum they had going into MAC play. Since this is a true road win we really need them to climb into the top 135 so it becomes a good tier 2 win.
Butler Bulldogs (13-1, 1-0 Big East) – NET: 4, KenPom: 7 – The way Butler is playing right now there is no real shame in losing to them. With Derrik Smits back they might even be better. They are 5-1 against Quadrant 1 and they won two more games this week. They beat Louisiana-Monroe 67-36 and won at St. John’s 60-58 after blowing a big lead. this team is really, really good and playing like a No. 1 seed.
Central Michigan Chippewas (7-5, 0-0 MAC) – NET: 223, KenPom: 194 – The Chips’ last game was the loss at Purdue. they open MAC play at home Saturday against Jack Owens and Miami (OH).