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Non-Conference Opponents’ Update: January 19

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Just. Keep. Winning.

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Illinois Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Monday’s win over Illinois is one of Purdue’s best of the season, and one that will look very good for the selection committee. At 15-2 Purdue is tied for its best start under coach Painter. Yes, I know it is frustrating that it could be more, but again, the overall profile is strong and the resilience shown Monday in Champaign is gigantic. There is still work to do in the Big Ten, but a win in Bloomington tomorrow gets Purdue to 3-1 in conference roads games and 5-2 overall. Also, going 2-0 in two very difficult road environments against tier 1 NET teams is the best you can ask for.

After 17 games we’re just past the halfway point of the 31 game regular season. Most projections have Purdue as a high 2 seed or low 1 seed, and the goal of a one seed playing in Indianapolis and Chicago is still very much alive. You could not ask for a better path to the Final Four then. Even if Purdue is the 2 seed with that path it is very good.

As always, winning is the key. The rash of upsets last week moved Purdue back into the top 5 for now. Joe Lunardi has Arizona, Gonzaga, Auburn, and Baylor (despite consecutive home losses) as his 1 seeds and Purdue as a 2 after Monday. Jerry Palm has Purdue as a 3 seed, surprisingly. There is more than enough strength left in the Big Ten to get to a 1 seed though. In the remaining 14 games, 7 would currently qualify as tier 1 victories. With Indiana at 33 and Northwestern at 80 those games home and away, respectively, could easily slide up to tier 1. Beating Indiana tomorrow will likely stay on tier 1 all year regardless of what the Hoosiers do. Ohio State and Illinois can come to Mackey as tier 1 wins. The opportunity is there.

To win the Big Ten Purdue can probably only drop two more games to finish 16-4. At 27-4, 16-4 before the Big Ten Tournament with an elite non-conference win (Villanova), a second neutral win over an NCAA team (North Carolina), a home win over another fringe NCAA team (Florida State), two more major conference wins (NC State and Butler) and three potential small conference champs (Wright State, Bellarmine, and Nicholls), I guarantee Purdue would be a 1 seed.

Purdue Boilermakers Profile

Record: 15-2, 4-2 Big Ten

NET: 7 (up 1 from last week)

KenPom: 4 (up 1 from last week)

Tier 1 Wins (KenPom) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1 75: 3 Villanova (Neutral), 12 Illinois (Away), 19 Iowa (Home), 36 North Carolina (Neutral), 66 Penn State (Away)

Tier 2 Wins (KenPom): Home 31-75 Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 49 Florida State (Home)

Tier 1 Wins (NET) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1 75: 3 Villanova (Neutral), 11 Illinois (Away), 21 Iowa (Home), 42 North Carolina (Neutral)

Tier 2: Home 31-75 (NET) Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 58 Florida State (Home), 85 Penn State (Away)

Bad Losses (Sub-100 NET or KenPom): None (Rutgers has climbed high enough to be a tier 2 loss now on NET at 113 and KenPom at 93)

Bellarmine Knights (10-8, 4-0 Atlantic Sun) – NET 213, KenPom 205– The Knights are off to a great start towards earning their first Division I conference title. They won at Lipscomb 77-71 and returned home to beat North Alabama 68-60. They are tied at 4-0 with Jacksonville State and Liberty for first place.

Indiana State Sycamores (8-8, 1-3 Missouri Valley) – NET 165, KenPom 160 – The Trees had a shot at home against top 25 Loyola-Chicago, but fell to the Ramblers 64-56 to fall to 1-3 in the Valley. They travel to Southern Illinois tonight.

Wright State Raiders (9-8, 6-2 Horizon League) – NET 263, KenPom 218– The Raiders got a split in the last week and are in third place in their league behind Oakland and Cleveland State. They beat Robert Morris 75-73 for their 7th straight win, but lost 90-87 at Youngstown State on Saturday. They head to IUPUI tomorrow night.

North Carolina Tar Heels (12-5, 4-2 ACC) – NET 42, KenPom 36 – The Tar Heels Got a split since the last update. They beat Georgia Tech 88-65 over the weekend, but went to Miami last night and got pantsed by the first place Hurricanes 85-57.

Villanova Wildcats (13-4, 6-1 Big East) – NET 3, KenPom 3 – Villanova is playing like one of the best teams in the country right now and starting to look like our 2018-19 team that got off to a slow start before coming together. They have now won six in a row after winning at Xavier 64-60 and at home against Butler 82-42.

Omaha Mavericks (3-16, 2-6 Summit League) – NET 344, KenPom 337 – The Mavericks dropped two straight last week, 95-86 to South Dakota State and 105-70 at South Dakota. They are not a threat in the Summit League.

Florida State Seminoles (11-5, 5-2 ACC) – NET 58, KenPom 49 –The ‘Noles are in second place in the ACC after last night’s upset of Duke. They won at Syracuse over the weekend 76-71, then upset the Blue Devils in overtime in Tallahassee 79-78 on a pair of late free throws. They have a rematch with Miami in Coral Gables on Saturday with first place on the line.

North Carolina State Wolfpack - (9-9, 2-5 ACC) – NET 121, KenPom 106 – The Wolfpack got a good road win at Louisville 79-63 last Wednesday, but then had to go to Duke. The Blue Devils did what they often do at home: win by a lot, 88-73. NC State is at Virginia Tech tonight.

Butler Bulldogs – (9-8, 2-4 Big East) – NET 142, KenPom 130 – The Bulldogs are struggling to stay above .500 overall. They won at Georgetown last Thursday 72-58, but then had the above-mentioned loss to Villanova and a loss at UConn last night 76-59.

Incarnate Word Cardinals – (4-14, 1-3 Southland) – NET 346, KenPom 352 – Only one game for the Cardinals last week, an 80-64 loss at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. They host Houston Baptist tomorrow night.

Nicholls Colonels – (10-8, 2-2 Southland) – NET 175, KenPom 210 – Nicholls fell off the pace in the Southland with a 78-66 loss at New Orleans on Saturday. They are still the highest rated NET team in their league, but it is held up by road losses to Baylor, Wisconsin, and Purdue.

On a final note, I appreciate everyone for tuning in to games and getting the team through it. I hope it is an enjoyable experience for y’all, because I have had had to temporarily retire from watching most games live. Over the summer I started to develop some anxiety issues and the accident my family was involved in back in November seems to have exacerbated them. The endings of many of these games have made the symptoms even more acute, raising my heart rate way too high win or lose even while sitting perfectly still, and after both losses I couldn’t get it back down enough to even sleep.

So I am tracking from afar. I kept track of Monday’s game via gametracker and only watched the last minute of the second OT live. It sucks hard to not be able to watch the what might be the best season in Purdue history as it happens, but right now I just can’t (though the home games are much easier). I hope to be back at full strength soon, but for right now I am taking a slight break from watching live due to my health. It sucks, but I’ll be back.