Purdue Still Number One Seed In First Bracket Reveal
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Purdue basketball's consecutive losses to Ohio State and Michigan State cost the Boilermakers a share of first place in the Big Ten Conference.
However, those narrow losses did not significantly damage Purdue's NCAA Tournament resume in the eyes of the selection committee.
The NCAA included the Boilermakers as a No. 1 seed in its reveal of the current top 16 seeds on Sunday afternoon. Purdue was the top seed in the West, where the regional is held in Los Angeles.
Virginia (South) was the top overall seed, followed by Villanova (East) and Xavier (Midwest). If those seeds hold, Xavier would get preference for the Midwest Region in Omaha because it is the higher seed.
"The committee was pretty strong in their consensus of the No. 1 seeds," said NCAA Tournament chair and Creighton athletic director Bruce Rasmussen.
Purdue is 22-4, with a 19-game winning streak preceding last week's losses. Much can change in the next month, which for the Boilermakers includes four regular-season games and the Big Ten Tournament.
Even winning out does not assure retention of that projected seed. The wins and losses of the teams surrounding it on the seed line are also, obviously, out of Purdue's control.
However, the Boilermakers know with more certainty where they stand relative to the rest of the country. They can also surmise how thin the margin for error is to retain that seed.
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Purdue has been a No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed three times — in 1988, 1994 and 1996. It has been No. 9, No. 5 and No 4 seeds in the past three tourneys.
Auburn, Kansas, Duke and Cincinnati were revealed as the No. 2 seeds. Kansas, which knocked Purdue out last season's tournament in the Sweet 16, would be in the West Region.
Clemson, Texas Tech, Michigan State and North Carolina were the No. 3 seeds. Tennessee, Ohio State, Arizona and Oklahoma were the No. 4 seeds.
Purdue went into Sunday's games with an RPI of 11 and high rankings from ESPN's BPI (3), Ken Pomeroy (3) and Sagarin (2). All are included in the selection committee's criteria.
The NCAA also adjusted that criteria this season, separating teams into four quadrants based on opponents' RPI ranking and where the games were played.
On the official team sheets used for Sunday's reveal, Purdue was 5-3 against Quadrant 1 teams (home wins against 1-30 RPI, neutral 1-50 and road 1-75). It was also 6-1 against teams in Quadrant 2 (home 31-75, neutral 51-100, road 76-135).
Purdue has no losses below Quadrant 2.
In that regard, Michigan and Louisville dropping out of Quadrant 1 status likely hurt the Boilermakers' resume more than last week's losses. Upward RPI movement by those teams in the coming weeks could help Purdue's case on Selection Sunday, assuming it does not stumble itself.
Purdue likely cannot help himself much with its remaining regular-season schedule. It travels to Wisconsin on Thursday, plays Penn State at home, travels to Illinois and plays Minnesota at home. None of those teams has an RPI above 91.
A long run in the Big Ten Tournament would potentially bolster the resume. Purdue is in position to receive a double bye for the fourth straight season. That helps protect the Boilermakers from an especially problematic upset, depending on how the opening rounds play out.
CBS bracketologist Jerry Palm used the 16 revealed seeds to create a full 64-team bracket. He had Purdue opening against No. 16 seed UNC-Asheville. No. 8 Nevada or No. 9 New Mexico State would theoretically await in his second round.