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Non-Conference Opponents Update: February 10

Purdue is playing for a seed now.

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Purdue Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

We’re now about a month out from Selection Sunday. The Big Ten Tournament starts exactly one month from today, and now we know Purdue can (hopefully) set up a month-long residence in Indianapolis for it and the NCAAs. I say that because the Boilers have only played one game since the last update, but it was an important one. Northwestern currently falls on tier 3 of the NET rankings, and with the 75-70 home win we avoided the always dreaded “bad loss”. Now, with seven regular season games to go (remember: Nebraska is still going to attempt to make up the lost game in Mackey) Purdue only has two more chances for a “bad loss”.

I have long said that 10 wins in Big Ten play would be enough. As long as Purdue sweeps Nebraska it will get to 10 wins. Of course, I am fine with getting a few more. In fact, tomorrow at Minnesota might be the toughest remaining game we have. I always like our chances in Mackey, and the three remaining road games are on the Demon Wood of Xibalba in the Barn, at Penn State (a tough out), and at Nebraska. At home we have Wisconsin (who always struggles in Mackey with only four wins there ever), last place Nebraska (maybe), a struggling Michigan State, and Indiana with Matt Painter’s personal whipping boy in Archie Miller.

As always, nothing is certain in Big Ten play, but I think Purdue could reasonably win five of those games. Individually it can take all seven, but that seems unlikely.

That makes the NCAA profile more than solid. It is the time of year where we can start looking at Bracket Matrix and currently Purdue is in 97 of their 97 brackets. We’re even a consensus FIVE seed! Let’s also give a shoutout to the true believer that has Purdue as a THREE seed! The sweep of Ohio State is doing some very heavy lifting, as that is a pair of top 10 wins by any metric. The 9-6 record against the top two tiers against the No. 17 strongest schedule in the nation is fantastic for such a young team.

Yes, we have to still use the words “barring a complete collapse” when it comes to making the 2021 NCAA Tournament, but at this time next week we may not even need to use those words.

Purdue Boilermakers Profile

Record: 13-7, 8-5 Big Ten

NET: 23 Up 5 from last week

KenPom: 22 Up 2 from last week.

Tier 1 Wins (KenPom) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 7 Ohio State (Home), 7 Ohio State (Away), 27 Indiana (Away), 30 Penn State (Home) 62 Michigan State (Road)

Tier 2 Wins (KenPom): Home 31-75 Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 38 Minnesota (Home), 44 Maryland (Home), 57 Notre Dame (Neutral), 71 Northwestern (Home)

Tier 1 Wins (NET) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 6 Ohio State (Home), 6 Ohio State (Away), 48 Indiana (Away)

Tier 2: Home 31-75 (NET) Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 31 Penn State (Home), 42 Maryland (Home), 52 Minnesota (Home), 66 Notre Dame (Neutral), 83 Michigan State (Road), 92 Liberty (Neutral)

Bad Losses (Sub-100 NET or KenPom): 146 NET Miami (Road) (Now on Tier 3), 121 KenPom

Liberty Flames (15-5, 6-2 Atlantic Sun) – KenPom: 110, NET: 92 – The Flames saw their planned doubleheader with North Florida get postponed, but they picked up a last minute game with non-D1 Lancaster Bible College. They won easily 90-49. Their remaining scheduled DHs are against North Alabama and league leading Bellarmine (who is 8-2 in the Atlantic Sun, but ineligible for the NCAAs as they are in year 1 of their transition to D1). Liberty is the favorite to win the Atlantic Sun automatic bid, and having a non-conference win over a decent NCAA team is always good.

Clemson Tigers (12-5, 6-5 ACC) – KenPom: 47, NET: 47 – Clemson is a team that is going to be on the Bubble, so their win over Purdue is going to be a major chip in their favor (yet another good sign for us, when you’re someone else’s good win). They earned a solid 78-61 win over Syracuse this past weekend. They also have a favorable finishing kick in ACC play.

Oakland Golden Grizzlies (8-15, 8-8 Horizon League) – KenPom: 213, NET: 254– Oakland had a pair of games against league leading Cleveland State this past week, but had narrow losses in both. They dropped the opener 80-72 and the second one 80-78. Their home schedule is now complete and they have remaining DHs with Robert Morris and Milwaukee.

Valparaiso Crusaders (7-12, 4-6 Missouri Valley) – KenPom: 203, NET: 232 – Valpo moved up more than 30 spots in the NET rankings with an unexpected split against former top 25 Drake this past weekend. They lost the first game 80-77, but won game two 74-57 to give Drake its first loss of the season. Both Drake and Loyola-Chicago are at large worthy teams in the Valley. Valpo has beaten Drake for their lone loss and Indiana State has beaten Loyola-Chicago for their only conference loss.

Miami Hurricanes (7-11, 3-10 ACC) – KenPom: 121, NET: 146 – No team in America has worse luck than Miami this year, making their four point win over us the one time this season they have had good luck. Isaiah Wong hit a three-pointer with two seconds left on Saturday to give them a 74-71 lead over top 25 Virginia Tech, but after a timeout Hunter Cattoor tied it with a buzzer-beater and the Canes lost 80-76 in overtime. They are now 3-5 in games decided by five points or less. At least they beat Duke.

Indiana State Sycamores (11-8, 8-6 Missouri Valley) – KenPom: 131, NET: 122 – Drake and Loyola-Chicago are running away with the MVC, but the Trees are currently in third place after a split last week with Northern Iowa. They took game one 61-57, but lost game two 70-67. This week they get nearby rival Evansville.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-10, 5-7 ACC) – KenPom: 57, NET: 66 – Can the Irish get into the top 50, giving us a tier 1 neutral court win? An 82-80 loss at Georgia Tech over the weekend doesn’t help, but Tuesday night they got a good win at Duke 93-89. Obviously this is not vintage Duke, as the Blue Devils are in serious danger of missing the Tournament, but It helps Notre Dame climb. The Irish host Miami on Sunday.