Naysayer: Purdue Loss Brings Big Ten Race Closer; IU Now On Life-Support Following Loss

Who had Ohio State coming out of nowhere to knock off the highly touted Purdue Boilermakers Sunday on their bingo card?

The fact of the matter is, the “we just fired our head coach and this team is flailing in the wind” Buckeyes just flat-out beat Purdue. Stymied them. Made the 2024 Boilers look like last year’s team raising a giant “I thought this year’s team was different” red flag. It was a perfect storm for the upset. A nationally televised Sunday game; coach gone, players could play unfettered, and Ohio State had absolutely nothing to lose by totally balling out.

During the first half, defense displayed by the home team Bucks was superb and continued into the second half. Post giant Zach Edey had the orange slapped away every time he took the ball to his waist and was reduced to playing big man clogging the middle role. All this, despite scoring 22 points and grabbing 12 rebounds on the way to his 10th consecutive double-double, which tied him with himself for the third longest streak in school history.

The emotional Ohio State players discovered team communication and team leadership within the controversy this week surrounding Chris Holtmann’s abrupt firing—just in time for interim head coach Jake Diebler to become the second head coach in seven years to defeat a Top 10 team in their coaching debut, according to ESPN. Timing is everything.

Purdue’s loss is unfortunate but not lethal. The team dropped one spot in the coaches poll to No. 3, but they are still No. 1 for the tournament. That is, if they don’t struggle down the stretch—which Purdue has a history of doing. Ohio State, on the other hand, is playing for its postseason life, hoping for an NIT bid. This may have just sealed it!

Down in Bloomington, the Indiana Hoosiers didn’t do themselves any favors Sunday by losing to Northwestern 76-72. The Cream and Crimson got Boo Buie’d, like so many other Big Ten teams this season.

Early foul trouble limited the Wildcats star, but once the second half began, the Hoosiers struggled to keep the game close (with the Hoosiers trailing by 10-12 points) until the very end, when a run closed the gap to three. But Northwestern hit its free-throws to maintain the buffer, and Indiana came up short, leaving the Hoosiers with a 14-11 overall record, 6-8 in the conference, and an NCAA national ranking of 99.

There is no wiggle room left for coach Mike Woodson and his team. The only way to save his fledgling team is to win games. Not just a couple, but every game for the rest of the regular season. Then make noise in the Big Ten tournament. Then maybe they can make a mark. But not likely.

We’ll see what the next two weeks bring!