College basketball broadcaster and reporter
In the midst of Purdue’s historic Big Ten regular-season and tournament-title runs last year, there was really only one blemish on the team’s resume: For the first time in 10 years, the Boilermakers were defeated by in-state rival Indiana.
On Saturday night, Matt Painter’s No. 2-ranked team got revenge in West Lafayette, defeating the Hoosiers 79–59, completing a season sweep that was decided by a combined 41 points. This rivalry redemption wasn’t just any sweep. The Boilermakers recorded multiple 20-point wins over the Hoosiers for the first time since the 1933–34 season. Basketball was a little different at that time, as one of those games was decided by a final score of 47–13.
Zach Eddy had a game-high 26 points and 13 rebounds – his 13th game with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds this season – in the win. How much fun did that national player of the year have over Indiana? Well, just when you didn’t think he could perform another First In his breakout career, the 7-foot-4-inch, 300-pound big man knocked down the first 3-pointer of his career.
Purdue’s Zack Eddy shows off his range and knocks down his first collegiate 3-pointer vs. Indiana
Purdue guard Braden Smith, who is having an All-American-caliber season, contributed 19 points, nine rebounds and four assists. After starting the game 0-for-7 from 3-point land, the Boilermakers then went 7-of-12 from downtown.
On the other hand, Saturday night brought another case of pedestrian offense for Mike Woodson’s team, which ranks last in the Big Ten in 3-pointers made this season. The Hoosiers went the entire first half without a 3-pointer and shot 4 of 16 from beyond the arc. The team’s leading scorer, Malik Reneau, was held to 3 of 11 from the field, allowing him only six points.
Purdue was expected to dominate in this game, but my opinion is this: the greatness of the Boilermakers should be appreciated more.
Look, I’m not naïve that the Boilermakers’ success this season will be measured by overcoming losses to Fairleigh Dickinson and Saint Peter’s in the NCAA Tournament. I completely understand that it is time for Painter and AD to go into a deeper run, I believe it will happen.
But the program has a combined 15 Quad 1 and Quad 2 wins this season, more than any team in college basketball. The Boilermakers’ 8-2 record against the top quartile, which is a collection of the best wins you can get in the game, is matched only by No. 1 UConn.
There are some people who won’t start validating the Boilermakers until they advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and so on, but if you fall into that category, it takes away from the college basketball regular season, which it isn’t. Will not get enough credit for what it is.
it This is the time when the resume is created. it This is when a team works to become one of the 68 survivors.
It could have been very easy for the Boilermakers to sleepwalk this season, get a 4- or 5-seed, and go to the NCAA Tournament after last year’s elimination. Why? Because finishing the season 29-5 and then losing in the opening round can make any team question the hard work they put into the regular season and toward a No. 1 seed.
Not Purdue. The program has only taken off and has gone 51-8 over the past two seasons.
The Boilermakers have gone from 12th in KenPom offense and 24th in KenPom defense last year to second and 12th, respectively, this season.
Lance Jones has given this team a new dimension of toughness and experience that they did not have. Smith and Fletcher Lauer are another year older – by the way, they’re just sophomores – and it shows in the way they handle pressure.
Purdue’s Fletcher Lauer knocks down a 3-pointer while fouled against Indiana
And Eddie continues to add to his all-time career high.
In five weeks, the bracket will be revealed, and it will be hard to imagine Purdue not being on the 1-line again. Yes, they may be coming off a season where they were on the wrong end of history, but everything about this team feels like redemption is about to happen in the Big Dance.
And up to this point, they’ve done everything they can to prove they’re a legitimate national championship contender, including winning the Maui Invitational, defeating Arizona and Alabama away from Mackey Arena and earning an 11-2 record in the Big Ten. Is included.
Only time will tell, but at this point, the Boilermakers deserve a tip of the cap – nothing else – because for over 90% of the season, they have only won. And there’s something to be said about recovering from a historic heartbreak, overcoming it, and dominating your competition up to this point.
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John Fant is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for Fox Sports. He covers sports in a variety of capacities, ranging from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the Big East Digital Network to providing on-field commentary for 68 Media Networks. Follow him on x et @John_Fanta,
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