Pretty soon you could swear Purdue in to the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
What a difference two weeks makes! On January 6th Purdue had just lost at Illinois and the seemingly easy home game against Nebraska had been cancelled. Purdue was 7-5 and 2-3 in the Big Ten. The Boilers had not had a four-game win streak since the 2018-19 season and with three more tough road games in the next four, they were facing a difficult stretch that would make or break the chances for the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
While the Boilers haven’t made it yet, Purdue has put itself in an excellent position to make it. Those four games became four wins, and with three of them being away from Mackey Arena the resume already looks excellent. I still think Purdue needs four more wins in the last eleven to feel safe on Selection Sunday. The last seven days, where Purdue has won at Indiana and Ohio State with a home win at Penn State, was a defining stretch. The comeback win in East Lansing seems to have been a gigantic boost for this team, and getting a pair of ranked teams in Michigan and Minnesota next at home is huge.
I have long said that 10-10 in the toughest league in America, with a couple of decent non-conference wins over Notre Dame and Liberty, would be enough before the Big Ten Tournament even tips off. While nothing is guaranteed, Purdue still has seven home games (assuming the Nebraska game is rescheduled), plus a couple of excellent chances to pick up more road wins at Nebraska and Penn State. Right now we’re looking at 12-13 Big Ten wins as a real possibility, and at that point you’re playing for a seed instead of the Bubble. If you want to really dream 14-15 might be enough for a surprise 25th Big Ten title.
Let’s look at the current profile.
Purdue Boilermakers Profile
Record: 11-5, 6-3 Big Ten
NET: 24 Up 18 from last week.
KenPom: 30 Up seven from last week.
Tier 2 Wins (KenPom): Home 31-75 Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 48 Penn State (Home), 51 Maryland (Home), 86 Notre Dame (Neutral)
Tier 1 Wins (NET) Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 21 Ohio State (Home), 21 Ohio State (Away), 56 Indiana (Away)
Tier 2: Home 31-75 (NET) Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 44 Penn State (Home), 35 Maryland (Home), 77 Liberty (Neutral), 83 Michigan State (Road)
Bad Losses (Sub-100 NET or KenPom): 130 NET Miami (Road)
Liberty Flames (12-5, 4-2 Atlantic Sun) – KenPom: 101, NET: 71 – Liberty is not playing like a team that can earn an at large right now, as they keep getting splits to sub-200 Atlantic Sun teams and they really needed to run away with the league. This week it was at Stetson, where they lost 65-59, but won 68-58. They are tied for the conference lead and if they win their automatic bad that still helps Purdue, especially if they stay in the top 100.
Clemson Tigers (9-2, 3-2 ACC) – KenPom: 36, NET: 15 – Clemson had to host Virginia in their only game last week, and it was a blowout loss, 85-50. Tonight they go to Georgia Tech and Saturday they go to Florida State.
Oakland Golden Grizzlies (5-12, 5-5 Horizon League) – KenPom: 250, NET: 283 – The Golden Grizzlies got a pair of wins this past weekend on a trip to Youngstown State. They won 82-65 and 81-74 to get to .500 in Horizon league play. Cleveland State leads this league at 9-1.
Valparaiso Crusaders (3-8, 0-2 Missouri Valley) – KenPom: 196, NET: 271 – Valpo did not have a conference two game series last week, but they went to Chicago and dropped a 77-58 decision to DePaul. We really, really dodged a bullet with this comeback win.
Miami Hurricanes (6-7, 2-6 ACC) – KenPom: 88, NET: 130 – Would Purdue win a rematch with the Hurricanes? Quite likely, as the Boilers have grown exponentially since then and they have Jaden Ivey back. The Hurricanes did get a very nice home win 79-73 over Louisville last week, but were blasted at Syracuse last night 83-57.
Indiana State Sycamores (6-7, 3-5 Missouri Valley) – KenPom: 151, NET: 129 – It wasn’t a long trip over to Illinois State over the weekend, but a productive one for the Sycamores. They swept the Redbirds 73-65 and 74-68 before having tonight’s game with Evansville postponed. Currently Missouri State and Loyola-Chicago are tied atop the league at 5-1, while Drake is 4-0.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-8, 1-5 ACC) – KenPom: 86, NET: 125 – The Irish lost 80-68 at Virginia last week, but got their first ACC win with an 80-70 home win over Boston College. They go to Miami on Sunday after having a midweek game with Howard cancelled.