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Purdue's Road Upset Over Indiana Is the Key Victory They Needed

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The Boilers picked up a huge victory in Bloomington tonight.

Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into the last week of February who would have thought the Boilermakers would be 10-4 in the Big Ten, in a tie with Maryland for second place? Not very many, even after a quick start in Hawaii before it fizzled out throughout December. Purdue found a way to turn things around in conference play and now after another win against Indiana has started to solidify a solid resume for a NCAA Tournament bid.

The recent Purdue surge started in late January when the Boilers won four games in a row, including home wins over three ranked teams (Iowa, Indiana, Ohio State). Purdue unfortunately stumbled against Minnesota thanks to colossal issues with turnovers, but found a way to take care of business against Rutgers and Nebraska. Entering this week Purdue was on the bubble and likely needed a big road win to help solidify their resume.

Well Purdue got that road win, knocking off the Hoosiers 67-63 in Bloomington. The win, Purdue's second over Indiana, puts Purdue at 10-4 in the conference and 18-9 overall with only four games remaining. Now with two weeks remaining the Boilers just need to take care of business and they should be in good shape. With two games remaining at Mackey against Rutgers and Illinois, Purdue should be able to win at least two of the last four. That means they'd be, at worst, 20-11 and 12-6 in Big Ten play heading into the Big Ten Tournament. That would likely mean Purdue would need to simply avoid a bad loss in the Big Ten Tournament to get into the big dance. Of course with two road trips remaining against Ohio State (who Purdue has already beaten) and Michigan State, Purdue could eliminate any doubt if they finish strong and another road win.

We've pretty much beaten the Gardner-Webb and North Florida losses into the ground here, but for as bad as a few of the early Purdue losses were, the Hoosiers game is Purdue's fourth win against RPI top 50 teams and improves their record against the RPI top 100 to 8-4. In conference play Purdue has now beaten Indiana twice, Ohio State and Iowa, all currently penciled into the tournament. Purdue has also managed to avoid any bad losses since the start of conference play and will continue to benefit if North Carolina State (who they beat) continues to improve down the stretch. When all is said and done Purdue's RPI could be better and they do have several bad losses, but the committee should also look at the fact that Purdue has a laundry list of accolades and quality wins attached to their resume.

Purdue's not a lock yet and still has work remaining, but the win against Indiana means Purdue essentially should be fine if they take care of business and they now don't need to rely on another road upset to lock up their bid. For a team that looked dead in the water once again, the recent rise to relevance has been a quick and surprising return to form by the Boilers. Matt Painter went from fans calling for his head to online chatter about potentially being Big Ten coach of the year material and his rapid turn around this year in West Lafayette is well worth the praise and acclaim. If Purdue keeps it up they will easily be one of the most surprising programs in the nation as Painter looks to get Purdue back into the NCAA Tournament after missing it the last two years.

Oh, and for good measure I'll leave you with this: