The Purdue Boilermakers (13-6, 3-3 in the Big Ten) NCAA Tournament boat is not sunk yet. However, it took on massive water Tuesday night at Northwestern in a game that barely legally still qualified as college basketball. That double overtime loss at NU was as pleasant to look at as a Kristen Schaal (“Daily Show” correspondent, “30 Rock” the evil, psycho NBC page) pictorial.
The Purdue Boilermakers have one top 50 win, against Eastern Michigan, and nothing else. Ten of the Boilermakers’ final 13 are against the top 100 teams, so they can control their own opportunities.
It starts Saturday, in what will be a very emotional game versus #3 RPI Wisconsin. This will be the first Purdue Boilermakers home game in the wake of the on-campus shooting that resulted in the loss of young person’s life.
Purdue’s RPI is 100, so it’s safe to say that the Badgers are a must win. Lose Saturday and the Boilers are left with only two ways to reach the NCAA Tournament. 1.) Finish 7-3 or better in a final 10 that includes trips to Michigan, Iowa, Ohio State, Wisconsin and home date versus #3 Michigan State. So good luck with that! 2.) run the table in Indy at the Big Ten Tournament for the auto bid. Even though Indianapolis is just a stone’s throw away, the Purdue Boilermakers have played pretty poorly when the BTT has been in the Circle City.
So in other words…..join the club with Illinois and Indiana. That’s the “Northwestern beat us and ruined our entire season club.” The Big Ten, as of now, looks like it will get six teams in not seven: WIS, MSU, OSU, MN, MN, MI.
So if the Purdue Boilermakers don’t make the dance the chances get even worse for the Hoosier state which looks quite likely to be bereft of tournament representation come March. That would be the first time since 2005.
Indiana State (14-4) might have the best chance to make the tournament as an at-large team, depending on what the bubble looks like. Its RPI is solid, as is its record, but with only four of their remaining 12 games against RPI top 100, there is very little margin for error. A win over undefeated Wichita State at home Feb. 5 would possibly punch their ticket. I saw ISU play in person the other night, at lowly Loyola. The Sycamores looked lost for 30 minutes, but finally put the Ramblers away.
Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. An MBA and Fulbright scholar in media studies, he’s also an analyst for multiple news talk radio stations across the country; with regular weekly segments on NBC and Fox Sports Radio. President Barack Obama follows him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)Follow paulmbanks