A week ago Purdue was trending up when it came to our NCAA Tournament profile. Now, there is a definite downturn. The Boilers have dropped both games since last week’s update and are on the brink of missing the NCAAs for the first time since 2014. That is a harsh reality given our recent success, but mostly on par with the program as a whole. Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in the mid-80s the longest run of consecutive appearances is eight, from 1993-2000. In that span Purdue made two Elite 8s, four Sweet 16s, at least won a game in seven straight years, and won three Big Ten championships.
It came to an end in 2000, however, after a senior-laden team exceeded expectations and came within a game of the Final Four. The next year inexperience and injuries dropped Purdue to the NIT. There was a brief return to the dance in 2003 for two games, but that was the lone appearance during a seven year stretch.
Purdue is currently on a similar run of success. It has made five straight tournaments, three straight Sweet 16s, an Elite 8, and won two Big Ten titles (coming damn close to a third). Streaks come to an end, however. 1989 and 1992 were bad years in the heart of the Keady era. Sometimes you have a team that just doesn’t quite have it. This year, with a team that is a handful of plays against Texas, Florida State, and Michigan from being in a much better spot is an example. We’re close, but the thin margin of “Aaron Wheeler struggling”, “Jahad Proctor falling off” and “Matt Haarms fighting through multiple injuries” happen. We expected a down year after the last three. It was definitely a transition year. A transition year with a few major developments like that erases any margin for error.
I suppose the good news is that there is still time for Purdue to fix things, win some games, and reach March. After 19 games, however, we know what this team is. I am just not seeing it unless we find a way to replicate the great efforts against Virginia and Michigan State more consistently.
I think Purdue needs to go 8-4 in the last 12 to feel safe on Selection Sunday. That would provide several more quality wins given the remaining strength of schedule, and at least two would have to come on the road. That’s not happening if the offense of the last two games continues.
Bracket Matrix Consensus: 11 seed
Record: 10-9, 3-5 Big Ten
NET: 47 (Down 12 from last week)
KenPom: 27 (Down 10 from last week)
Tier 1 Wins (KenPom) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 8 Michigan State (Home), 48 VCU (Neutral)
Tier 2 Wins (KenPom): Home 31-75 Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 50 Virginia (home), 37 Minnesota (home)
Tier 1 Wins (NET) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 8 Michigan State (Home), 40 VCU (Neutral)
Tier 2: Home 31-75 (NET) Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 44 Minnesota (Home), 66 Virginia (home)
Bad Losses (sub-100 NET OR KenPom): at Nebraska (170 NET, 134 KenPom)
Green Bay Phoenix (9-11, 4-3 Horizon League) – NET: 246, KenPom: 228 – It doesn’t raise their profile a lot, but the Phoenix have won twice since last week. They beat Oakland 73-69 and Detroit 83-80, both at home, to get above .500 in league play.
Texas Longhorns (12-6, 2-4 Big 12) – NET: 67, KenPom: 69 – A nice KenPom rating aside, Texas had a busy 1-2 week since last Wednesday. They won at Oklahoma State 76-64 for only their second win in the top two tiers. They followed it up with lopsided losses to Kansas 66-57 and at West Virginia 97-59
Marquette Golden Eagles (14-5, 4-3 Big East) – NET: 28, KenPom: 32 – The Golden Eagles are one of the hottest teams in the Big East. They beat Xavier 85-65, won at Georgetown 84-80, and beat St. John’s at home 82-68. That’s a good run for a team playing for an NCAA seed right now.
Chicago State Cougars (4-17, 0-6 WAC) – NET: 352, KenPom: 353 – Chicago State moved up one spot in the NET, but is still at the bottom of the KenPom ratings. They had home losses to Grand Canyon 78-64 and Cal St. Bakersfield 72-54.
Jacksonville St. Gamecocks (8-11, 3-3 Ohio Valley) – NET: 245, KenPom: 243 – Jacksonville State had a split this week. They lost at Eastern Illinois 70-69, but won at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville 64-56.
Virginia Commonwealth Rams (14-5, 4-2 Atlantic 10) – NET: 40, KenPom: 48 – VCU is still probably a tournament team, and they are still Purdue’s best win outside of Michigan State, especially since it occurred away from Mackey. They beat St. Bonaventure 91-63 and St. Joseph’s 73-60. This weekend they go to LaSalle.
Florida State Seminoles (14-2, 6-1 ACC) – NET: 13, KenPom: 16 – Purdue was one play away from an excellent win, as the Seminoles have been red hot since losing at Indiana. They beat Virginia 54-50 with a late run and survived at Miami 83-79 in overtime to stay atop the ACC.
Virginia Cavaliers (12-6, 4-4 ACC) – NET: 66, KenPom: 50 – We could find ourselves on the Bubble with the defending champs when all is said and one, and even at 10-9 we’re probably ahead of them now. In addition to the loss to Florida State they won at Georgia Tech 63-58, but lost at home to NC State 53-51. They have work to do in order to make it to March.
Ohio Bobcats (10-9, 2-4 MAC) – NET: 210, KenPom: 219 - Purdue’s only true road win still is not that great. The Bobcats split last week, winning at Eastern Michigan 60-58 but losing at home to Toledo 83-74. Still, a road win is a road win. At least we didn’t lose like at Nebraska.
Butler Bulldogs (15-4, 3-4 Big East) – NET: 9, KenPom: 15 – Butler has fallen apart since the last update, losing three in a row. They lost at home to Seton Hall 78-70 before going on the road and losing at DePaul 79-66 and Villanova last night 76-61.
Central Michigan Chippewas (10-8, 3-2 MAC) – NET: 190, KenPom: 189 – The Chippewas have only played once since last week, losing to Buffalo 86-67 at home.