On Jan. 12, 2016, Wisconsin was 9-9 on the season. The Badgers had lost to Western Illinois, Milwaukee and Marquette on their home floor, lost four of their first five conference games and lost their era-defining coach (Bo Ryan) to retirement.
One season earlier, on Dec. 22, 2014, the Purdue Boilermakers wrapped up their nonconference slate with a home loss to Gardner Webb. It was their second such bad home loss to date; the first came to North Florida. They were 8-5.
Those Boilermakers would finish with a 12-6 record in conference play en route to the NCAA tournament. One year later, the Badgers would do the same, ending their season in the Sweet 16.
In November, before the season began, we attempted to predict the final 2016-17 standings in every conference in college basketball. We've updated those predictions based on the hefty data set provided by six weeks of nonconference results, which is, or at least should be, a slightly easier task. But as Wisconsin and Purdue and dozens of other teams have shown us in the past few seasons alone, the nonconference portion of the calendar can be misleading -- and, even this far into the season, the possibilities for surprise still abound.