Purdue will play in the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Before the season I believed that was the main goal of the season. There were a lot of questions with no seniors on the roster, five freshmen playing major minutes, the departure of four critical components (not to mention the immortal Tommy Luce), and we were coming off of a barely .500 year. This was all before a pandemic dragged on as long as it has.
But with at least four games left I believe Purdue is a lock for the tournament. The committee is not going to leave out a team with 10 wins in the Big Ten, especially since two have come against possible 1 seed Ohio State. It is not going to leave out a team with 10 wins against the top two NET tiers, and five against tier 1. The Boilers are now playing for a decent seed, and there are still some good chances to earn that.
The last few days have seen Purdue pick up a pair of tier 1 wins without even taking the floor. Maryland’s win at Rutgers moved them to 30 in the NET, which makes our home victory over them now on tier 1. Michigan State’s sudden resurgence with wins at Indiana and at home over Illinois last night was doubly effective, as the Spartans moved to 75 in the NET. That means our road victory moves to tier 1 and the home victory moves to tier 2. We want the Terrapins and Spartans to stay where they are, so we could use a few more wins from them.
Going forward, Purdue’s next two games are tier 1 opportunities, as would pretty much any Big Ten Tournament game be. For all the questions Purdue had back in early November it is amazing that it is 1. positioned the way it is, and 2. could be never better if not for the late stumbles at Maryland and Minnesota.
Oh, and everyone can return next year, we get a pair of top 40 recruits, and Mackey Arena (where Purdue is 9-1 this year) will once again become a place where ranked teams come to die.
Purdue Boilermakers Profile
Record: 15-8, 10-6 Big Ten
NET: 26 Up 1 from last week
KenPom: 17 Up 5 from last week
Tier 2 Wins (KenPom): Home 31-75 Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 31 Maryland (Home), 36 Penn State (Home), 50 Minnesota (Home), 60 Notre Dame (Neutral), 65 Michigan State (Home), 75 Northwestern (Home), 95 Liberty (Neutral), 115 Nebraska (Away)
Tier 1 Wins (NET) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 7 Ohio State (Home), 7 Ohio State (Away), 30 Maryland (Home), 54 Indiana (Away), 75 Michigan State (Away)
Tier 2: Home 31-75 (NET) Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 40 Penn State (Home), 61 Minnesota (Home), 67 Notre Dame (Neutral), 75 Michigan State (Home), 91 Liberty (Neutral)
Bad Losses (Sub-100 NET or KenPom): 165 NET Miami (Road), 139 KenPom
Liberty Flames (19-5, 10-2 Atlantic Sun) – KenPom: 95, NET: 91 – A win over a regular season conference champion is always good, and Purdue seems likely to have one in Liberty. The Flames swept North Alabama by identical 74-54 scores and have set up a conference title clash with Bellarmine this weekend. Both are 10-2 in the Atlantic Sun, well ahead of third place Lipscomb at 9-5. Remember: Bellarmine is in year 1 of a transition to Division and is thus ineligible for the NCAAs. That means Liberty is the likely recipient of the automatic bid should Bellarmine win the conference tournament.
Clemson Tigers (13-5, 7-5 ACC) – KenPom: 39, NET: 38 – Clemson’s one game at Notre Dame last week was postponed due to COVID.
Oakland Golden Grizzlies (10-17, 10-10 Horizon League) – KenPom: 210, NET: 256 – Oakland split its last two regular season games at Milwaukee, winning 85-81 and losing in double overtime 89-87. They will be the 4 seed in the conference tournament and play IUPUI next Tuesday at home.
Valparaiso Crusaders (9-16, 6-10 Missouri Valley) – KenPom: 194, NET: 231 – It was a three-game week for Valpo and they only won one of them. They suffered a narrow 54-52 loss at top 25 Loyola-Chicago before splitting with Southern Illinois, winning 66-65 and losing 67-64. They host Indiana State this weekend.
Miami Hurricanes (7-13, 3-12 ACC) – KenPom: 139, NET: 165 – Miami’s only game was a dismal 87-60 loss at Georgia Tech. They also got word that all-ACC guard Chris Lykes, who has been out since December 4, will not return this season. They host Florida State tonight and are basically playing out the string at this point. At times they have been down to 6 scholarship players dressed, so it has been a disastrous year for the ‘Canes.
Indiana State Sycamores (13-8, 10-6 Missouri Valley) – KenPom: 117, NET: 118– Someone break up the Trees! With their 87-73 win over Evansville the Sycamores have now won 9 of their last 10 games. They sit in fourth place in the Valley, but have a win over conference favorite and likely at large team Loyola-Chicago. This is a team that could steal an autobid in a conference that might already be a multi-bid league with Loyola and Drake.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-12, 6-9 ACC) – KenPom: 60, NET: 67 – Just when the Irish were gaining momentum to get into the top 50 they drop a pair of games. They lost 75-67 at Syracuse and 69-57 at Louisville just last night. That likely ends their at large hopes, but this is still a decent non-conference neutral floor win.