Bubble Watch: A Little Help From Our Friends

Bubble Watch: A Little Help From Our Friends


The Good Guys had the weekend "off", doing the things that basketball players do when they don't have a game over the weekend. (It's true; it wasn't just that you don't get the magic channel on which BTN hid the Boilers this time.) But the Bubble Watch marches on, partly because Mondays and Fridays are idle days for Big Tenteen teams, and partly because hey! Things happened while you were gone. Specifically, Michigan dumped Ohio State in Crisler. Purdue needed a little help to make sure they'd get a bye to Friday in Chicago, and the Wolverines provided it. Purdue now sits at the bottom of a three-way tie for second, looking down at a bunch of teams that have 6 or more losses.

Current Status: In

I'm adding the Bracket Matrix this time because wow. Did you know that someone thinks Purdue should be an 8 seed?

Bracket Matrix: avg. seed 10.95, 66 of 94 brackets. Note that the composite isn't adjusted for same-conference matchups or anything; Stanford and UCLA are currently the last two "in".

Lunardi: 11 seed against 6 West Virginia; 44th on the S curve, up 6 spots. They have an 11.1% chance to make the Sweet 16; 0.6% to make the Final Four; basically no chance at a title.

dratings: third 11 seed,  up 4 spots.

kenpom: 45th, down 1 spot.

RPI: 59th, down 1. Conference RPI up to 12th.

[table id=9 /]

  • Rutgers lost by 30 to Indiana at home. Among other things, they were 10 for 25 from the line. There's little to gain from playing a team that looks this bad; the Good Guys need to get the W and move on.
  • MSU and OSU are heading in opposite directions, so it looks like the more winnable game is the one in Columbus.
  • Illinois is still generally ahead of Purdue in most brackets, but not by much. I can't believe I'm about to say this, but with the way Northwestern has been playing, that game could be a tough one for John Groce's squad. I'm not sure Illinois can afford to go 2-2; as the 8 seed, they'd face Michigan Thursday, then Wisconsin Friday (if they made it that far). That's not a challenge they're likely to win.

Likely Scenarios

Toe the line: 12-6

As myleshandley pointed out last time, getting the 4 seed is a problem if Purdue hasn't earned its NCAA bid yet. Beating 5-seed OSU (who wins the tiebreaker based on their record against Purdue/MSU/Maryland) would do it, though. On one hand, there really isn't a quality win to be had on Thursday. Even somehow falling to the 7 seed would serve up Minnesota. On the other hand, it might look better to win Thursday/lose Friday than to get a bye to Friday and be upset that day.

The solution to this problem (assuming that beating Illinois doesn't quite cover it) is ...

Road magic: 13-5 or 14-4

Still the #2 seed. Indiana gets the #6 seed thanks to a better record against Minnesota and Nebraska, giving the Boilers #7 seed Iowa or #10 seed Minnesota (who has the better record against OSU/IU/Iowa). The Hawkeyes are part of the not-safe-yet crowd, so Purdue would have to be on their guard ... but a win, even if it knocked Iowa onto or off the bubble, would shore up Purdue's resume nicely. Take care of #3 Maryland Saturday, and Purdue's maybe off the #8 line, which is a good thing. (Kentucky in the second round? No thank you.) Remember, that would give the Boilers wins in their last 12 regular-season games against Iowa, Indiana twice, Ohio State (maybe twice) or Michigan State, and Illinois, plus tournament wins against Iowa and Maryland or Indiana again. Is a #7 seed a stretch? Possibly. Hopefully we can revisit this in more detail in early March.

Purdue's chances of another road win are still around 37%, and winning out jumps to 2.8%. BOOK IT NOW.

Prediction adjustments

Indiana is one of those teams whose individual predictions don't add up to their projected record, mostly because all three of their remaining games are coin flips. While they're favored slightly in two and a toss-up against MSU, odds are they'd lose one of those, which is where the 11-7 comes from. So tiebreakers will be thrown off a bit, depending on which of those games they lose. (Likely the MSU game.)

Maryland is another: favored in three, but projected to win just two. That's only important if Purdue gets another road win, because the Terrapins win tiebreakers against pretty much everyone, so behind a 13-5 Maryland team or losing a tiebreaker to a 12-6 squad is the same thing.

All other teams in the top half of the conference match, at this point.

Purdue talk on CBSSports.com's Eye On College Basketball Podcast

Purdue talk on CBSSports.com's Eye On College Basketball Podcast

Bubble Watch: Oh Yes He Did

Bubble Watch: Oh Yes He Did