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Non-Conference Opponents Update: February 5

Purdue still has a lot of work to do, but is hanging on to an NCAA Tournament berth.

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Northwestern David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The good news is that Purdue avoided disaster on Saturday night at Northwestern. That win didn’t really help Purdue’s profile, but avoiding the terrible loss was critical.

The bad news is that there is still a lot of work to do. There are nine games left in the season and all nine are against teams currently rated in the top 50 of the NET rankings. That is a double-edged sword, really. There is no chance for another “bad” loss unless Purdue runs into Northwestern or Nebraska in the Big Ten Tournament. Chances abound for even more quality wins.

There have to be some wins, however.

The bare minimum Purdue needs in the last nine is 5-4 to be considered for an at large bid. Since seven of the nine remaining games, as the ratings stand now, would fall in the top tier, that would be a minimum of three more Quad 1 NET victories, doubling our current total. At 17-14, 10-10 in Big Ten play Purdue would at least be in the discussion for an at large bid because the computer profile would be as strong as it could possibly be for a 17-14 team, but winning a game in the Big Ten Tournament would be an excellent idea at that point. Anything more than 5-4 down the stretch makes us a lock in my mind because of the overall strength of the Big Ten. I just don’t see them leaving out a team that has a winning record in Big Ten play.

It is not going to be easy, obviously. Iowa is a tough challenge tonight. Penn State just shocked everyone by walking into the Breslin Center and getting a convincing win. Neither will be afraid of Mackey, where Purdue has proven to be mortal this year. There are also four road games left, and Purdue has sucked on the road.

There is still work to do, but it can be done.

Bracket Matrix Consensus: 11 seed (Possible play-in game in Dayton)

Record: 12-10, 5-6 Big Ten

NET: 38 (Down 2 from last week)

KenPom: 29 (Down 5 from last week)

Tier 1 Wins (KenPom) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 11 Michigan State (Home), 43 VCU (Neutral)

Tier 2 Wins (KenPom): Home 31-75 Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 31 Wisconsin (home), 54 Virginia (home), 38 Minnesota (home), 123 Northwestern (Away)

Tier 1 Wins (NET) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 11 Michigan State (Home), 30 Wisconsin (home), 36 VCU (Neutral)

Tier 2: Home 31-75 (NET) Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 43 Minnesota (Home), 58 Virginia (home)

Bad Losses (sub-100 NET OR KenPom): at Nebraska (172 NET, 135 KenPom)

Green Bay Phoenix (11-13, 6-5 Horizon League) – NET: 235, KenPom: 235 – Green Bay split their games last week, but their win was the best win they have had all year. They lost to Northern Kentucky 71-62 at home, but beat Horizon League leader Wright State 92-89 on Sunday.

Texas Longhorns (14-8, 4-5 Big 12) – NET: 59, KenPom: 61 – Texas has had three games since the last update, but it was a productive three games that got them closer to the Tournament. They won at TCU 62-61 and beat Iowa State 72-68 before losing at Kansas 69-58 on Monday.

Marquette Golden Eagles (16-6, 6-4 Big East) – NET: 25, KenPom: 32 – The Golden Eagles will be a tournament team. They gave it to X instead of having X gon’ give it to them by winning 84-82 at Xavier in double overtime. They then won at home to DePaul 76-72. This weekend they host Butler in a pretty big game after the two went to overtime at Hinkle.

Chicago State Cougars (4-19, 0-8 WAC) – NET: 353, KenPom: 353 – Chicago State stays at the bottom of Division I, 353rd out of 353 in both the KenPom and the NET. Their one game this week was a 69-51 home loss to Missouri-Kansas City.

Jacksonville St. Gamecocks (9-14, 4-6 Ohio Valley) – NET: 270, KenPom: 269 – The Gamecocks fell a little further back in the OVC standings with two losses this week. They lost to Tennessee State 72-62 and Belmont 78-64.

Virginia Commonwealth Rams (16-6, 6-3 Atlantic 10) – NET: 36, KenPom: 44 – Even with a loss in their only game this week Purdue’s best non-conference win remains modestly strong. They lost at Rhode Island 87-75, but remain as a viable at large candidate. They are probably the third bid if the Atlantic 10 gets three bids with Dayton, Rhode Island, and VCU.

Florida State Seminoles (19-3, 9-2 ACC) – NET: 16, KenPom: 22– The Seminoles definitely look like a second weekend NCAA team so far. They are a game behind Louisville in the ACC after winning at Virginia Tech 74-63 and beating North Carolina 65-59. They have a huge game at Duke on Monday.

Virginia Cavaliers (14-6, 6-4 ACC) – NET: 58, KenPom: 54– Surprisingly, the Cavaliers have not played since their January 28 win over Florida State. They host Clemson tonight before going to Louisville over the weekend. Their record is fine, but they are only 2-2 against tier 1 and need a few more quality wins.

Ohio Bobcats (10-12, 2-7 MAC) – NET: 207, KenPom: 213 – The Bobcats have really struggled in MAC play. They have now lost six of their last seven after losing at Ball State 65-54

Butler Bulldogs (17-5, 5-4 Big East) – NET: 12, KenPom: 16 – Butler had just one game since last week, a 65-61 home loss to Providence. They have a big home game tonight against Villanova.

Central Michigan Chippewas (13-8, 6-2 MAC) – NET: 159, KenPom: 183 – Central Michigan had a big jump in the NET rankings this week with an 85-78 win at Western Michigan and a 92-82 home win over Bowling Green. They are currently tied atop the MAC West standings.