Non-Conference Opponents’ Update: February 15

Things have changed quite a bit since I last did an update here. Purdue crushed a top 20 in Iowa with a barrage of three-pointers, got a huge road win at Indiana, then played pretty much the exact opposite of the Iowa game against a very good Penn State team in a double digit home loss. It has been a strange, strange season. After losing only three times in West Lafayette in the previous three seasons (Villanova in 2016-17, Minnesota in 2016-17, and Ohio State in 2017-18) Purdue has lost three times this year alone in Mackey. While it has been a major factor in wins over Michigan State, Wisconsin, Virginia, and Iowa, being mortal at home is a strange feeling for Purdue fans.

With three games left after the Penn State loss, all against unranked teams, Purdue cannot afford another home defeat. It absolutely has to get all three to have a chance at the NCAA Tournament. There are also three road games too, and it would be a good idea to get at least one of them. Ohio State has strong computer numbers, but has not done well in the Big Ten. They will enter Saturday having won four of their last five, however, and seem to have righted the ship. The other two are at Iowa and Wisconsin, teams Purdue blew out in West Lafayette, so they should at least be favorable matchups.

As we enter the home stretch I maintain that Purdue has to go 4-2 in these last six and head to Indianapolis with an 11-9 conference record. As strong as the Big Ten is this year that should be enough to be on the good side of the Bubble, and with a win in Indianapolis that would make us a virtual lock.

Still, there is work to do, and it is strange to say that. We have been spoiled the last three seasons by not only having a bid sewn up by this point, but we have also been battling for (and earned) a top 4 seed. That won’t happen this year. Purdue’s absolute best case scenario of winning the final 6 games and then three or four games in Indianapolis would get us to 24-11, and maybe a 4 seed because that would include a lot of tier 1 wins. We’re looking more at a seed in the 7-11 range now, but we’re at least on the Bubble’s good side.

Just never ask me to gamble, because if you bet the over/under for Purdue wins in the regular season this year your best hope is for a push:

Bracket Matrix Consensus: 9 seed

Record: 14-11, 7-7 Big Ten

NET: 31 (up 7 from last week)

KenPom: 19 (Up10 from last week)

Tier 1 Wins (KenPom) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 9 Michigan State (Home), 18 Iowa (Home), 30 Minnesota (Home), 44 Indiana (Away), 47 VCU (Neutral)

Tier 2 Wins (KenPom): Home 31-75 Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 31 Wisconsin (home), 51 Virginia (home), 130 Northwestern (Away)

Tier 1 Wins (NET) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 11 Michigan State (Home), 26 Iowa (Home), 42 VCU (Neutral), 64 Indiana (Away)

Tier 2: Home 31-75 (NET) Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 32 Wisconsin (Home), 40 Minnesota (Home), 55 Virginia (Home)

Bad Losses (sub-100 NET OR KenPom): at Nebraska (168 NET, 131 KenPom)

Green Bay Phoenix (12-14, 7-6 Horizon League) – NET: 235, KenPom: 237 – Linc Darner’s team continues to alternate wins and is in a three-way tie for 4th in the Horizon League. Last Thursday they won at IUPUI 91-85 (Thanks for the assist, Grant Weatherford!), but lost at Illinois-Chicago 71-58 on Saturday. They next play at Milwaukee on Saturday.

Texas Longhorns (14-10, 4-7 Big 12) – NET: 70, KenPom: 70 – Texas has been a big bowl of mediocre so far. At least Illinois and Penn State are good teams that beat us in Mackey. The Longhorns lost 62-57 at home against Texas Tech on Saturday and 52-45 to No. 1 Baylor earlier this week. They only have two tier one wins: at Purdue and at Texas.

Marquette Golden Eagles (17-7, 7-5 Big East) – NET: 20, KenPom: 24 – Marquette continues to be a strong tournament team even after splitting their two games in the past week. They beat Butler 76-57 on Sunday but lost at Vaillanova 72-71 last night.

Chicago State Cougars (4-21, 0-10 WAC) – NET: 353, KenPom: 353 – The Cougars have just one Division I win this season and have now lost 15 in a row since winning at SIU-Edwardsville on December 4th. They recently lost 71-49 to New Mexico State at home and 75-64 to Texas-Rio Grande Valley (which is a real Division I school)

Jacksonville St. Gamecocks (10-15, 5-7 Ohio Valley) – NET: 273, KenPom: 259 – The Gamecocks are a lot like Green Bay in that they are right in the middle of a lower conference. This week they had a very bad 76-72 loss at SE Missouri State (who is now a blistering 3-20) before beating Tennessee-Martin 75-61.

Virginia Commonwealth Rams (17-7, 7-4 Atlantic 10) – NET: 42, KenPom: 47 – VCU holds steady as Purdue’s best non-conference win and they are still solidly in the field as of now. They beat Davidson 73-62 but lost to George Mason 72-67, both games coming at home. Their next two games are huge opportunities at Richmond and home against Dayton.

Florida State Seminoles (20-4, 10-3 ACC) – NET: 15, KenPom: 20– Florida State earned a season sweep of rival Miami over the weekend with a 99-81 home win, but went to Duke and lost 70-65 on Monday. They remain a game out of first place in the loss column in the ACC.

Virginia Cavaliers (16-7, 8-5 ACC) – NET: 55, KenPom: 51 – Virginia has had three games since the last update and won two of them. They beat Clemson 51-44 and Notre Dame 50-49. They had an 80-73 loss at Louisville that would have been a huge win for them though.

Ohio Bobcats (12-12, 4-7 MAC) – NET: 184, KenPom: 188 – It wasn’t a bad week for Ohio, as they won a pair of games. They beat Miami (OH) 77-46 and Western Michigan 73-61. That helps out profile and they get into the top 200. That means this is a Tier 3 win for us!

Butler Bulldogs (19-6, 7-5 Big East) – NET: 12, KenPom: 25 – Butler’s only loss in the last week was the aforementioned loss to Marquette, but they did have a pair of wins. They beat Villanova 79-76 at home and Xavier 66-61 for a pair of good home wins.

Central Michigan Chippewas (13-10, 6-4 MAC) – NET: 177, KenPom: 185 – So much for that big jump for the Chips. They have lost twice in the past week. They lost 65-60 at Buffalo and 73-70 to Eastern Michigan.

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Author:

Travis Miller

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