The Big Ten is everyone’s favorite conference this season, and with three teams in Ken Pom’s Top 5 – Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin – the popular opinion is that the conference could dominate March Madness.
Being talked about considerably less: the fall of Purdue. The Boilermakers are 18-10, 8-7 in the Big Ten. Here’s how they could miss the NCAA Tournament:
* Best win? 85-77 over Temple in November. Second best win? Good luck finding one. The win over Temple is canceled out by a 20-point loss at pathetic Penn State.
* Non-conference losses: Alabama, Xavier, Butler. (Hey, at least they played people.)
* Even if you hate the RPI*, the committee doesn’t, and Purdue’s sitting at 50. (Ken Pom has Purdue at 35.) Purdue’s strength of schedule is solid (38) but the Boilermakers are just 1-6 against the RPI Top 25.
Here’s where it gets scary for Purdue – final three games: at Michigan, vs. Penn State, at Indiana.
Let’s say the Boilermakers lose two of three and are 19-12, 9-9 in the Big Ten. Not bad, right? Maybe worth an 10/11/12 seed? (Reminder: Losses to Indiana and Michigan would leave Purdue 1-8 vs. the RPI Top 25.)
What if Purdue loses in the first round of the Big Ten tournament? I’m not sure what the bracket will look like this year with 12 teams, but I’d imagine the top four will get byes, which would put Purdue in the 5/6 game, where it would meet Indiana (winner plays 4-seed Wisconsin)? [UPDATE: Unlike last year, when the 5-6 teams played each other, the addition a 12th team would likely pit Purdue against one of the dregs of the conference. Great, another win against a bad team!]
Oh, is this a good time to mention that Purdue starter Kelsey Barlow (4th leading scorer, 2nd leading rebounder) was kicked off the team recently?
In the above scenario … :
1) Starter kicked off the team
2) 1-9 vs. RPI Top 25
3) 0-9 (assuming losses to Michigan, Indiana, Indiana) against the Big Five in the conference
4) Ended the season losing 4 of 6.
Hey Purdue – you need to win at Michigan or Indiana, or you’re going to be playing the first round of the Big Ten tournament for a spot in March Madness.
* I know you hate RPI. Everyone does (except Seth Davis). But the committee uses it. So therefore, it must be taken into account.