College Basketball Broadcaster and Reporter
There will be a new No. 1 in college basketball on Monday.
After losing 11 consecutive meetings to Purdue entering last February, the Northwestern Wildcats have been the thorn in the Boilermakers’ side in the last two showdowns, both of which Matt Painter’s program has entered as the top-ranked team in the nation.
Chris Collins’ program was the giant slayer again Friday night, this time in a thrilling 92-88 victory over the Boilers in overtime at a soldout Welsh Ryan Arena.
Blake Preston comes away with a crucial steal as Northwestern upsets No. 1 Purdue. 92-88
And in this case of déjà vu for Purdue, it was the same player on the other side of the matchup that proved to be the hero again: Boo Buie.
After leading Northwestern to an unforgettable upset win over Purdue last season on Super Bowl Sunday, Buie one-upped that performance with an absolute master class on Friday night. The 6-foot-2 senior guard scored a season-high 31 points on 10-of-20 shooting from the field, in addition to dishing out nine assists and not committing a single turnover in 43 minutes.
The way to beat Purdue is not to out-play reigning national player of the year Zach Edey, who posted 35 points along with 14 rebounds in the loss. The 35 points are Edey’s second-highest total in a game throughout his career, with his highest total coming in a 38-point showing last year on MLK Day in a win over Michigan State.
The way to beat the Boilermakers is to pressure their guards defensively into tough decisions. On Friday night, point guard Braden Smith had six of the team’s 17 turnovers. The issues that led to Purdue’s downfall last season still existed in this game.
That being said, consider the opponent. Coming off a second-place finish in the Big Ten in a season that featured 22 wins and a trip to the NCAA Tournament Round of 32 for the second time in program history, the Wildcats have four returning players in their starting lineup.
Senior guard Ty Berry shot 7-for-11 in the victory and finished with 21 points, while Princeton transfer Ryan Langborg continues to show why he’s been such a good addition by Collins after he was a part of a Sweet 16 Tigers team last year. The 6-4 graduate guard supplied huge 3s in the win, going 4-for-5 from downtown and finishing with 20 points.
No. 1 Purdue vs. Northwestern Highlights
Northwestern is now 6-1 and deserves to be ranked on Monday. In fact, the Wildcats could go undefeated in the rest of December. Just look at their upcoming schedule:
Dec. 10: Detroit Mercy
Dec. 13: Chicago State
Dec. 16: at DePaul
Dec. 20: Arizona State (in Phoenix)
Dec. 29: Jackson State
As for the Boilermakers, they have to figure out their turnover problems, because lack of perimeter shooting is one thing – Purdue went 5-for-19 from 3, a common theme in the team’s losses last year – but when the giveaways and self-inflicted backcourt errors are flaring up for this team, that was the issue against Fairleigh Dickinson last March.
And while it’s one loss, the Boilers are held to a different standard this season because of Edey and the rich storyline of redemption in the balance.
Purdue returns to action at home against Iowa at 7 p.m. ET Monday on the Big Ten Network. They will then face No. 23 Alabama in the Hall of Fame Series as Edey makes his return home to Canada at 1:30 p.m. ET Dec. 9 on FOX.
John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers the sport in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.
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