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Non-Conference Opponents’ Updates: January 26

Yep, still work to do.

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

Thank you, Illinois!

A shorthanded Illini squad upset Michigan State last night. I say upset because they won an ugly both-teams-score-under-60 game without Andre Curbelo and Kofu Cockburn. The Spartans now have two losses in similar fashion, just like Purdue. Purdue lost to Rutgers and Indiana in games where it had the lead with less than 20 seconds left, needing just one stop. Michigan State has now lost twice where it has been at the free throw line (on a very weak foul each time, TBH) with a chance to tie and less than a second left.

As we head to Iowa City tomorrow Purdue has 12 games left (assuming the Michigan road game is rescheduled). It sits a game in the loss column behind Ohio State, Michigan State, Illinois, and Wisconsin, but it has a game left against all four. That makes the math simple: Don’t lose and Purdue wins at least a share of the Big Ten.

The Boilers are more than good enough to win each of those 12 games individually. Running through all 12 without another loss seems unlikely though. There is a lot of basketball to be played, and those other four teams will get losses from somewhere. I believe that, at worst, Purdue needs to go 10-2 over these last 12 in order to get a share of the conference. That’s going to be difficult, but not impossible. We can’t lose at home. Can Purdue go 4-2 at Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Michigan State? Step 1 is tomorrow.

All of that means Purdue still has a very, very good chance at a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.It is currently a solid 2 seed per Bracket Matrix. Purdue is 4-2 in Quad 1 games and 2-1 vs. Quad 2. As it stands now, six of the remaining 12 would be on Quad 1 (at Iowa, Ohio State, at Michigan, at Wisconsin, at Michigan State, and Illinois) would all be on that line. At Minnesota is just outside that group at 78 and Northwestern is at 81, so their road game is close. The home games against Indiana (40) and Michigan (38) are also close. The home games against Rutgers and Maryland are the “easiest” games left and only ones in Quad 3.

If Purdue goes 10-2 in these final 12 there is a very good chance it has as many as 10 Quad 1 wins. Your No. 1 seeds last year were Illinois with 12, Michigan with 8, Baylor with 8, and Gonzaga with 7 before the tournament started. Purdue can pick up two more this week.

As always, the key is winning. Purdue has lost its share of late game toss-ups. It’s time for that to turn in our favor.

Purdue Boilermakers Profile

Record: 16-3, 5-3 Big Ten

NET: 8 (down 1 from last week)

KenPom: 6 (down 2 from last week)

Tier 1 Wins (KenPom) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1 75: 5 Villanova (Neutral), 16 Illinois (Away), 20 Iowa (Home), 38 North Carolina (Neutral),

Tier 2 Wins (KenPom): Home 31-75 Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 53 Florida State (Home), 81 Penn State (Away), 98 North Carolina State (Neutral)

Tier 1 Wins (NET) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1 75: 6 Villanova (Neutral), 14 Illinois (Away), 20 Iowa (Home), 46 North Carolina (Neutral)

Tier 2: Home 31-75 (NET) Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 57 Florida State (Home), 90 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 108 and KenPom at 96)

Bellarmine Knights (11-9, 5-1 Atlantic Sun) – NET 211, KenPom 210– Bellarmine got its fifth straight Atlantic Sun win 76-73 in overtime over Jacksonville, but then dropped a 65-60 game at Jacksonville State. That moved the Gamecocks into first place in the league at 6-0 ahead of 5-1 Bellarmine.

Indiana State Sycamores (9-10, 2-5 Missouri Valley) – NET 196, KenPom 163 – It was a three game week for the Trees. They lost at Southern Illinois 63-55 last Wednesday and at home to Valparaiso 75-73 on Saturday, but rebounded to beat Missouri State last night 76-72.

Wright State Raiders (11-9, 8-3 Horizon League) – NET 236, KenPom 220– All three Wright State games were on the road since the last update. They won at IUPUI 73-45 and Illinois-Chicago 97-81, but then fell 73-63 at Northern Kentucky. They are in third place in their league behind Oakland and Cleveland State.

North Carolina Tar Heels (13-6, 5-3 ACC) – NET 46, KenPom 36 – North Carolina continues to split games and be on the good side of the NCAA bubble, thus helping Purdue. They lost 98-76 at Wake Forest, but got an important 78-68 home win over Virginia Tech Monday night. They host Boston College tonight.

Villanova Wildcats (15-5, 8-2 Big East) – NET 6, KenPom 5 – The jewel of Purdue’s profile, Villanova’s computer numbers are even better than Purdue’s at the moment, thus making this a win that automatically raises Purdue a seed or even two. They were shocked at home 57-54 by Marquette last Wednesday, but bounced back to beat Georgetown 85-74 and DePaul 67-43. That has them leading the Big East, but Providence is just behind at 6-1.

Omaha Mavericks (3-17, 2-7 Summit League) – NET 348, KenPom 344 – Only one game in the last week for Omaha, and it was a 94-63 loss at Denver.

Florida State Seminoles (13-5, 6-2 ACC) – NET 57, KenPom 53 –The Seminoles have played their way into the tournament and they have won six straight, the latest a 61-60 win at Miami on Saturday. That has them tied with Duke and the Hurricanes for second place at 6-2 behind 7-3 Wake Forest, and the Seminoles have both wins over Miami by a single point. They are at Georgia Tech tonight.

North Carolina State Wolfpack - (10-10, 3-6 ACC) – NET 113, KenPom 98 – The big news is that NC State has climbed into the top 100 on KenPom, thus making it a tier 2 win there. Now they need to do some work and get there in the NET. They lost at home to Virginia Tech 62-59, but beat Virginia 77-63 on Saturday. They are at Notre Dame tonight, and a win both helps us and hurts Indiana since the Irish are IU’s best non-conference win.

Butler Bulldogs – (9-10, 2-6 Big East) – NET 156, KenPom 147 – It is not the best season in Hinkle for the Bulldogs. They have a really good non-conference win over Oklahoma in Norman, but that is really it. This week they lost to UConn 75-56 and Providence 69-62, both games where wins would have dramatically boosted their profile. They host Creighton tonight.

Incarnate Word Cardinals – (4-16, 1-5 Southland) – NET 350, KenPom 353 – The Cardinals continue to struggle under Carson Cunningham. They dropped two at home in the past week, 68-65 to Houston Baptist and 82-72 to McNeese State.

Nicholls Colonels – (11-9, 3-3 Southland) – NET 204, KenPom 227 – I expected more out of Nicholls once Southland play started, but they are stuck in neutral. They beat Northwestern State 69-58, but lost to Southeastern Louisiana 101-93 in a game of no defense. They are still the highest rated NET team in their conference.