Let’s be straight up: The second half against Illinois last night was Purdue’s best half of the season, both offensively and defensively, by a fairly wide margin. When Purdue plays like that I find it difficult to believe that any team in the country can beat it. Illinois is ranked in the top 15. They had earned first place in the Big Ten. They are a top 20 team offensively and top 25 team defensively per KenPom.
And Purdue absolutely wiped the floor with them in the second half.
With seven games left in the regular season Purdue is right where it wants to be. It is back in first place in the Big Ten and on the 1 line for the NCAA Tournament. There are still two games to play this week, but should Purdue win tomorrow night in Ann Arbor and Sunday against Maryland it could even be No. 1 in the AP Poll again if St. Mary’s could do us a favor Saturday night against Gonzaga.
Last night Purdue collected its 7th tier 1 victory of the season. As things stand right now, it can grab four more, as all four of Purdue’s remaining road games would fall into that category. The Big Ten Tournament also presents an opportunity for a few more with the conference having seven teams in the top 50 of the NET right now. I tend to think the Big Ten Tournament won’t matter though. If Purdue enters it with a regular season championship I think a No. 1 seed will already be secured.
In terms of said championship, I think 5-2 in the last 7 would be enough, especially if one of those five wins comes against Michigan State or Wisconsin. Purdue will be a strong favorite in all three remaining games at home, as well as at Northwestern. That leaves trips to Michigan, Michigan State, and Wisconsin. The Badgers are the toughest of those, in my opinion. Assuming Purdue drops two of the last seven it would need Wisconsin to lose two, Illinois to lose two, Ohio State to lose two, and Michigan State to lose one. Obviously there are losses there for someone with lots of games between those teams left. If Purdue can win in Ann Arbor tomorrow night it will be in a very good spot.
Just keep winning.
Purdue Boilermakers Profile
Record: 21-3, 10-3 Big Ten
NET: 5 (Up 3 from last week)
KenPom: 5 (Up 3 from last week)
Tier 1 Wins (KenPom) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1 75: 9 Villanova (Neutral), 15 Illinois (Away), 15 Illinois (Home), 19 Ohio State (Home), 21 Iowa (Home), 21 Iowa (Away), 44 North Carolina (Neutral),
Tier 2 Wins (KenPom): Home 31-75 Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 49 Michigan (Home), 61 Northwestern (Home), 82 Penn State (Away)
Tier 1 Wins (NET) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1 75: 6 Villanova (Neutral), 12 Illinois (Away), 12 Illinois (Home), 17 Ohio State (Home), 22 Iowa (Home), 22 Iowa, (Away), 42 North Carolina (Neutral)
Tier 2: Home 31-75 (NET) Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 52 Michigan (Home), 68 Northwestern (Home), 90 Penn State (Away), 91 Minnesota (Away)
Bad Losses (Sub-100 NET or KenPom): None (Rutgers has climbed high enough to be a tier 2 loss now on NET at 99 and KenPom at 88)
Bellarmine Knights (13-11, 7-3 Atlantic Sun) – NET 204, KenPom 195 – Bellarmine was trending towards becoming a tier 3 win, but they had a rough week. They lost at home to Liberty 66-53 and Kennesaw State 75-70. That knocks them to third place in their conference, two games in back of Liberty and Jacksonville State.
Indiana State Sycamores (9-14, 2-9 Missouri Valley) – NET 206, KenPom 220 – The Trees had a terrible week. They lost all three games and are now well back in the MVC, having lost 8 of 9. The losses were to Drake 85-67, Valparaiso 79-72 in double OT, and Evansville 65-56.
Wright State Raiders (14-10, 11-4 Horizon League) – NET 210, KenPom 188– It was a big week for Wright State. The Raiders beat Detroit 90-59 and first place Oakland 75-64 at home. They are now in second place in the Horizon League headed into the stretch run.
North Carolina Tar Heels (17-7, 9-4 ACC) – NET 42, KenPom 44 – The Heels have been trending towards the NCAA Bubble of late, especially after an 87-67 loss at home to Duke Saturday night. They did salvage things Monday with a 79-77 win at Clemson, but they are 0-7 in tier 1 games. It would be nice if they can stay in the top 50 for us. Saturday they host Florida State.
Villanova Wildcats (18-6, 11-3 Big East) – NET 6, KenPom 9 – Villanova started off the last week with an 83-73 loss at Marquette, but recovered with wins over UConn 85-74 and St. John’s 75-69. They are in second place behind a really good Providence team (and the Friars do have a secret scrimmage win over Purdue).
Omaha Mavericks (4-20, 3-10 Summit League) – NET 344, KenPom 339 – It was a fruitless trip to North Dakota for the Mavericks as they lost to North Dakota State 71-64 and North Dakota 92-85. Even worse, it was North Dakota’s first conference win of the year.
Florida State Seminoles (13-9, 6-6 ACC) – NET 85, KenPom 86 –The Seminoles are in freefall right now and have fallen off of the NCAA Bubble with four straight losses. They lost at Clemson 75-69 and Wake Forest 68-60. Tonight’s home game against Pittsburgh is a must-win.
North Carolina State Wolfpack - (10-14, 3-10 ACC) – NET 124, KenPom 119 – NC State has lost 6 of 7 with losses to Syracuse 89-82 and Notre Dame 69-57 in the last week. I had really hoped they could at least be decent in the ACC and reach the top 100, but alas.
Butler Bulldogs – (11-13, 4-9 Big East) – NET 135, KenPom 140 – Butler had a three loss week, just like Indiana State. They were all narrow losses too, where wins would have put them solidly in the top 100. They fell to Xavier 68-66, St. John’s 75-72, and Creighton 54-52.
Incarnate Word Cardinals – (5-18, 2-8 Southland) – NET 347, KenPom 349 – The Cardinals earned a split this week! They lost to Nicholls 63-60 in the battle of Purdue Southland opponents, but recovered to beat first place New Orleans 78-70.
Nicholls Colonels – (14-9, 6-3 Southland) – NET 202, KenPom 219 – Nicholls played only once in the past week, and it was the above mentioned win over Incarnate Word. They are a game back in the loss column in their league behind New Orleans.
Likely NCAA Teams: Villanova
NCAA Bubble: North Carolina
Possible Regular Season or Conference Tourney Champs: Bellarmine (cannot play in NCAA Tournament due to recent move-up from D-II), Wright State, Nicholls