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Purdue 70, Northwestern 57: Boilers Win 24th Big Ten Championship

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After coming up just short last season Purdue wins its record 24th Big Ten Men’s Basketball championship and second in three years.

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Northwestern Nuccio DiNuzzo-USA TODAY Sports

Get Gene Keady in a studio. We need to adjust the starting lineup introduction video to now say, “home of 24 Big Ten Championships”.

Last season we came up one rebound short of winning a second straight title. No one expected one this year. Most people had us finishing sixth or worse in the conference. In mid-December, after a listless 88-80 loss to Notre Dame in Indianapolis, Purdue was 6-5, 1-1, and would have been 5-6 and 0-2 if not for a blocked shot by Nojel Eastern to seal the win over Maryland.

At the time I honestly thought we were going to miss the tournament. It looked like the rebuilding year many thought it would be and we had taken a major step back. We had close losses to Virginia Tech, Texas, and Florida State then and just looked bad against Michigan and the Irish.

Then it was like a switch flipped. Purdue blew out Ohio 95-67, beat a really good Belmont team 73-62, and has since gone 17-3. We defended home court extremely well, going 15-0 for the only the third undefeated home season in Mackey history. An overtime win at Wisconsin really got things going. After stumbling Tuesday night at Minnesota we only needed to beat last place Northwestern today to get a share of the title.

Mission accomplished.

While Purdue led almost the entire game, Northwestern never truly went away. Even after senior Vic Law left with a leg injury they had a final push to get it to 8 and force a timeout with 4:10 left. Then Carsen Edwards hit his first challenged three in what seems like forever. If Northwestern gets a stop there, shades of Little Rock start flashing before us after we had led by as much as 15. Instead, Carsen buried the shot and everything else was academic.

This game, like this championship, was a team event. Trevion Williams had a huge bounce back game with six points and seven rebounds. Noel Eastern had a huge homecoming game with 13 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. Matt Haarms also had a big bounce back game with 11 and 6. Eric Hunter Jr. even hit a big three, his first since the win over Michigan State. Every Boiler who played scored except Aaron Wheeler, who was scoreless. Carsen finished with 21 (on 6 of 18 FG) to lead us.

After last year this title feels extra special. It was an unexpected championship in a year where just making the tournament seemed unlikely at one point.

Great job, gentlemen. This has been a damn fun team to watch.

And yes, this one was for Tyler.