In the modern-day of College Basketball, it is easy to look at different teams and make the case for them being NCAA Tournament caliber teams for a variety of reasons, whether it be because of a high ranking in the NET, a strong Strength of schedule or a team may have a high amount of quadrant one wins. That being said, one thing that many people overlook is actually winning and losing games. That is where the duo of Purdue and Minnesota come into play, as both those teams have all the attributes that you would want in order to make the NCAA Tournament, except both teams, have a not great record of 10-8.
As a result of this bad record, these two Big Ten teams could see themselves on the bubble or out of the tournament field simply because they do not have enough wins. Take for example last year, both Indiana and Texas had the resume success that you would want but neither team really came close to making the big dance because neither team had a good enough record to warrant an at-large bid. Meanwhile, Florida another team with a bad record got in with a 19-15 record. What this factor shows is that there is a certain record needed in order to make the NCAA Tournament. That being that a team needs to get to 18 wins and have 15 or fewer losses. So for these teams, it is time to start winning now, otherwise, they will end on the wrong end of the bubble.
Let’s start by talking about Purdue. The Boilermakers are 10-8 on the season with one bad loss coming at Nebraska, while they have a very solid resume overall. The Boilermakers have a 2-6 record against Quadrant one opponents with those two wins coming against Michigan State (which is a Quadrant 1A win) and VCU. Meanwhile, 6 of the 8 losses have come to Quadrant 1A opponents with the two other losses coming to Texas at home and Nebraska on the road. Take out the Nebraska loss and you have a pretty good resume, while the team rates high in the NET. The problem is that this team is on pace to finish the regular season with maybe 14 or 15 losses, which probably keeps them from the NCAA Tournament.
The problem for Purdue seems to be that it can’t win a road game, which seems impossible for any Big Ten team. Thus far they are 1-5 on the road with that one win coming against Ohio who is not exactly a great team. A team that ends the year going something like 2-10 on the road is not going to make the NCAA Tournament.
For Purdue’s sake, let’s give them one more road win and one home loss. That puts their record at 17-14 entering the Big Ten Tournament, with a likely 18-15 record coming out of the Big Ten Tournament. That resume is going to look good in all the places except the actual winning and losing of games, which will probably keep them out of the field. Do I think Purdue ends up doing that? No, I think the talent mixed with Painter will get them the necessary wins but those wins need to happen now.
As for Minnesota, this is a team that went out and challenged themselves in non-conference play, boasting the 26th best strength of schedule while they have also only played a total of 5 games against Quadrant 3/4 opponents. The Gophers resume also is really good as they have a NET ranking of 41, 2 quadrant one wins and no bad losses. The problem once again with them is that they can’t win a road game. The team is 0-6 on the road and while the team has clearly challenged themselves, they don’t have the ability to take on many more losses and they also need a road win ASAP.
The Gophers have 6 road games left and one of those comes against Northwestern, that being said, if they lose one more home game and only win one more road game like the example I made with Purdue, that puts their road record at 1-11 and their overall record at 17-14 entering the Big Ten Tournament, which puts them at a massive disadvantage as a team. Now look, I really like this Gophers team, Marcus Carr has been awesome, while Daniel Oturu is a stud but thus far they have not shown any ability to go win a road game this season. For their sake, I would like to see them pick up a couple of road wins and get into the NCAA Tournament discussion but thus far they haven’t shown that ability.