Bubble Watch: Oh Yes He Did
I'll admit it. I missed it. I was playing Gauntlet, looking down at my iPad from time to time as it merrily streamed ESPN. This is partly because I struggle to do just one thing at a time and partly because I do not enjoy hearing IU fans make noise. So I suddenly hear all this commotion from the announcers. Pause the game. Look down. Laugh. Watch it again. Laugh again. Good times, my friends. (Unfortunately, Sling doesn't (yet?) let you pause or rewind the ESPN channels, so I could only watch replays if the network provided them. Fortunately, even ESPN realized that this particular play might be worth showing again. and again. and again.) You should go and read Aneesh's summary of that win. Then you should go and search Twitter for "Tom Crean". Come back when you're ready.
OK. Let's pick up where we left off Monday ... Northwestern crushed Minnesota's faint, faint NCAA hopes by dropping them in Williams Arena. The Wildcats scored 72 points, which probably doesn't mean much to you, but they'd only hit that mark three times this year: against Mississippi Valley State, Northern Kentucky, and Michigan State (in OT). There will always be teams who don't quite fit the curves generated by computers because that's how algorithms work; fortunately, we can look at these teams and recognize them as outliers. Minnesota was one of those teams for a while; in January, they were still kenpom 36. Now, they're 65. Their RPI is 102. Everyone agrees about them.
Everything else went as expected.
Current Status: In
Lunardi: won't update until Monday. I think you know what he's going to say.
dratings: 12 seed, #2 in Last Four In (up 4)
kenpom: 44th (up 5).
RPI: 58th (up 6). Conference RPI jumps to 13th. Last 12 remains at 8-4 as the Michigan win drops off. Next to drop off is the Wisconsin loss.
[table id=8 /]
- At this point, the most likely outcome
SaturdayThursday (I BLAME THE AWESOME DUNK) is that Purdue wins comfortably, but by not quite enough to further improve their computer rankings, because Rutgers is so bad. Get it done, Boilers.
- The OSU and MSU games are still longshots, which is fine. Purdue already picked up the most important road win from a fan perspective, and it's starting to look like playing to form will be good enough from here on out. A win in Columbus or East Lansing would all but seal the deal, though.
- The Illinois game now looks like it could have at stake the ability to get out of an opening-round game. dratings has Illinois as the last team in the field of 64, with Purdue playing Cincinnati and BYU playing Texas A&M. (No, I don't know why those are both 11s if they got "in" after Purdue.)
Note that now we are getting close enough to the end of the season that the difference between projected final record and game-by-game results becomes important. For example, kenpom has Maryland favored in three of its last four games, but predicts they'll only win two of them. In that case, some of the tiebreaker info may be incorrect. Don't worry - it'll sort itself out in another game or two.
Toe the line: 12-6
Now that means a four-way tie with Maryland, MSU, and OSU. Bad for Purdue, because that drops the Good Guys to the #5 seed, where they'd likely host Northwestern on Thursday. There's currently no way for Purdue to win a tiebreaker with any combination of these teams, so root for at least one of them to pick up a 7th loss somewhere.
A scenario where Purdue wins another road game but loses at home to Illinois is now somewhat tolerable, especially because the Illini would presumably be a solid tournament team as a result. Don't test the other 12-6 possibility.
Road magic: 13-5 or 14-4
#2 seed. Indiana, Iowa, and Illinois are currently looking at 6-7-8. A 13-5 Purdue team could handle any of them.
The Boilers now have a 2.6% chance to win out. They have almost a 37% chance to win one of the two remaining road games; that's better than their chances of winning in Bloomington.
— Aneesh Ramaswamy (@aneeshswamy) February 20, 2015