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Non-Conference Opponents’ Update: February 17

Purdue is all but in the NCAA Tournament.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Purdue
“Hey Tom, what’s it like not making the NCAAS?”
Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Just one more.

It was a bit dicey at times last night, but Purdue secured its ninth Big Ten win of the season and clinched, at absolute worst, a .500 overall record before Selection Sunday. The 14-14 record would require Purdue losing every remaining game (including a hypothetical rescheduled Nebraska game) as well as the Big Ten Tournament opener. That is probably the only way the Boilers would miss the NCAA Tournament at this point.

Joe Lunardi’s latest bracketology had Purdue comfortably in as a 6 seed. That is where Purdue is on the Bracket Matrix site as well, and the Boilers are in the field on all 106 brackets. The narrow losses at Maryland and Minnesota cost us a shot at a top 4 seed (at least for now), but the overall profile is more than strong enough. I only see us missing the field in the above catastrophic scenario because it would mean two losses to last place Nebraska, an under .500 conference record, and a six game losing streak before Selection Sunday.

That’s probably not going to happen.

Now we get to think about seeding, and that is a good place to be. According to the NET rankings Purdue is 9-7 against the top two quadrants. That means we have both played a tough schedule and held our own against it. The Quad 1 record of 3-7 could be better (and is two possessions from being better as the Minnesota and Maryland losses are on Quad 1), but Penn State and Maryland are both within striking distance of the top 30 to improve the home wins over them. Notre Dame is closing in on the top 50 can get there with a strong finish.

Purdue’s 16 games against the top 2 tiers are tied with Ohio State for most in the country. The 9 wins are right up there too. My only concern is that the two Ohio State wins are doing a lot of heavy lifting. The only other tier 1 win is at Indiana. It stings that Michigan State is not MICHIGAN STATE this year, and the Maryland and Minnesota games are missed chances.

There are still chances though. The game at Penn State and game at home against Wisconsin are both tier 1 chances. Indiana is sitting on tier 2 for a home win at No. 50 right now. If Michigan State can get it together (that is a big if) they have the chance to go from 93 to 75 and make that road win a tier 1 win. We also want Penn State (their loss to Nebraska was brutal), Maryland, and Notre Dame to all do well so those wins can move to tier 1. There is always the Big Ten Tournament, which will be at a target rich environment since 10 teams are currently at 50 or better in the NET (and Minnesota is just outside at 52).

Then again, sitting at a 6 seed means you avoid a 1 seed for as long as possible and it is a prime spot to take advantage of some bracket chaos.

Purdue Boilermakers Profile

Record: 14-8, 9-6 Big Ten

NET: 27 Down 4 from last week

KenPom: 22 Same as last week

Tier 1 Wins (KenPom) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 6 Ohio State (Home), 6 Ohio State (Away), 28 Indiana (Away), 71 Michigan State (Road)

Tier 2 Wins (KenPom): Home 31-75 Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 32 Maryland (Home), 39 Penn State (Home), 40 Minnesota (Home), 55 Notre Dame (Neutral), 70 Northwestern (Home), 71 Michigan State (Home)

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

Tier 2: Home 31-75 (NET) Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 36 Maryland (Home), 38 Penn State (Home), 52 Minnesota (Home), 64 Notre Dame (Neutral), 92 Liberty (Neutral), 93 Michigan State (Away)

Bad Losses (Sub-100 NET or KenPom): 151 NET Miami (Road) (Now on Tier 3), 131 KenPom

Liberty Flames (17-5, 8-2 Atlantic Sun) – KenPom: 102, NET: 92 – Liberty got a sweep of North Florida 73-61 and 80-60 to stay in form control of the race for their conference autobid. They won’t be an at large team, but they are on pace to be one of those nasty 13 or 14 seeds for someone. They get a rescheduled two-game set with North Alabama this weekend, then close regular season play by hosting league leader Bellarmine twice next weekend. Since Bellarmine is not eligible for this year’s tournament due to their transition to D-1 the automatic bid could be Bellar-yours to Liberty.

Clemson Tigers (13-5, 7-5 ACC) – KenPom: 44, NET: 42 – Clemson continues to be very thankful they got a nice non-conference win over us. Their 74-72 win over Georgia Tech on Friday was big to keep them afloat, but tonight’s game at Notre Dame was postponed.

Oakland Golden Grizzlies (9-16, 9-9 Horizon League) – KenPom: 221, NET: 258 – The Golden Grizzlies have got out and played some games with 25 already complete. They split at Robert Morris last weekend, losing 88-82 in double overtime before winning 86-81. They close regular season play by going to Milwaukee this weekend.

Valparaiso Crusaders (8-14, 5-8 Missouri Valley) – KenPom: 206, NET: 236 – It was a busy week with three games for Valpo. They lost at home to Bradley 76-52 and then split at Northern Iowa with a 70-57 win and 74-60 loss. Tonight they go to top 25 Loyola-Chicago before visiting Southern Illinois for two this weekend.

Miami Hurricanes (7-12, 3-11 ACC) – KenPom: 151, NET: 146 – Whither, Miami. They gave it a go at Notre Dame this weekend but lost 71-61 on Sunday. It has been a nightmare season for the Canes with just one win in the last month. Chris Lykes is still not back and they have a tough stretch to finish the season that includes Virginia, Florida State, and Clemson.

Indiana State Sycamores (12-8, 9-6 Missouri Valley) – KenPom: 121, NET: 122 – The Trees only got to play once last week, but it was a 76-70 win at Evansville. They host the Purple Aces tonight, too, then go to Valparaiso next weekend. Indiana State could be in a position to steal an auto bid as they are third behind Drake and Loyola-Chicago, who are both at large teams right now.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-10, 6-7 ACC) – KenPom: 55, NET: 64 – The above mentioned win over Miami got the Irish to the cusp of .500, and the closing schedule is favorable for them to make a run at the top 50. They have now won four of their past five and hopefully can make up the Clemson game The next two at Syracuse and at Louisville would be huge to help get them in the top 50.