Super Sunday party: Northwestern chops down No. 1 Purdue 64-58 in Evanston

The Wildcats’ season just got rip-roaringly good.

SHARE Super Sunday party: Northwestern chops down No. 1 Purdue 64-58 in Evanston
Northwestern players celebrate with fans after defeating No. 1 Purdue Sunday at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Northwestern players celebrate with fans after defeating No. 1 Purdue Sunday at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Nam Y. Huh/AP

One win.

One epic, logic-defying, No. 1-denying, Purple-are-flying win.

The biggest damn one in school history? Oh, yes.

That’s all it took for Northwestern to erase the stink of disappointment that has hung over its men’s basketball program ever since the Wildcats broke through to their very first NCAA Tournament in 2017.

Sunday in Evanston, the almost unthinkable happened: The Wildcats — NCAA-bound again, there’s no doubt about that now — upset Purdue 64-58 for their first-ever victory against a foe ranked No. 1 in the land. On the 19th try, they chopped down the Boilermakers and 7-4 sensation Zach Edey, the nation’s best player.

At 23-3, the Boilers still should win the Big Ten, still are in line for a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance, still have — because of Edey, the most dominant Big Ten player since Glenn Robinson 27 seasons ago — a chance to hang the conference’s first national championship banner since 2000.

Yet, they have nothing on the 18-7 ’Cats. Not today. Not for a snippet in time that — no matter how little it moved the national sports needle on Super Bowl Sunday — played out like a kind of movie that young people occasionally get to enjoy on other campuses, certainly not on this one.

At Northwestern, hope has sprung, the student section is going wild, coach Chris Collins’ career is being fully revived and a team that simply shouldn’t be this good is overachieving more than any other group in college basketball.

“It’s one of the reasons I wanted to come here,” said Collins, in his 10th season. “I wanted to do historic things.”

Edey got his, as he always does, scoring 24. But Boo Buie eclipsed him with 26, and running mate Chase Audige — who didn’t make a basket until the second half — scored 10 points in under two minutes in the Wildcats’ closing 17-3 run.

Does Purdue have enough talent around Edey to win a championship? It’s at least a two- or three-alarm question. Northwestern clamped down at the defensive end, as it does, and made No. 1 look shaky and one-dimensional.

But the Boilers can chase their own story in this special season for them. The Cats have one going, too, and it just got rip-roaringly good.

THREE-DOT DASH

Those long, deep, bellowing sounds you keep hearing are the “moos” of the biggest pro-sports cow town in America.

The cratering Bulls did nothing before Thursday’s trade deadline to address their desperate situation and clearly share a foot-off-the-pedal philosophy — hey, not to mention an owner — with the White Sox. When other have-it-all franchises go for the jugular, the Cubs rebuild. The mom-and-pop Bears have made Chicago look like bumpkinville for decades.

Ah, well, we’ll get ’em next century. …

Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Lakers

Russell Westbrook? Sure, we’ll take him.

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Yes, please, bring Russell Westbrook to the Bulls. Even if the well-traveled point guard doesn’t make them winners, the whole thing will at least be a spectacle.

OK, fine, zero chance he makes them winners. But did I mention the spectacle? …

Iowa has signed beleaguered offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz — a real son-of-a-coach, that one — to an amended contract under which next season’s Hawkeyes must win at least seven games and average at least 25 points or else old man Kirk will find someone else, presumably not another relative, for the job.

The Hawkeyes had the worst offense in the Power Five ranks in 2022, which barely begins to cover how astoundingly awful it was. But seven wins is subpar at Iowa, and about two-thirds of all FBS teams scored at least 25 a game last season. The terms of this “ultimatum” are pathetic. …

You probably didn’t know this, but the Bears could have drafted Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes in 2017. I’d tell you whom they drafted instead, but you wouldn’t believe me. Anyway, maybe somebody will talk about this stuff sometime. …

My latest college basketball AP Top 25 ballot: 1. Houston, 2. Alabama, 3. UCLA, 4. Purdue, 5. Texas, 6. Virginia, 7. Kansas, 8. Arizona, 9. Baylor, 10. Marquette, 11. Miami, 12. Indiana, 13. Creighton, 14. Tennessee, 15. Kansas State, 16. Xavier, 17. UConn, 18. Gonzaga, 19. Providence, 20. Pittsburgh, 21. Saint Mary’s, 22. San Diego State, 23. N.C. State, 24. Missouri, 25. Illinois.

Miami (up eight spots), Indiana (eight) and Creighton (nine) are the biggest climbers. Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Missouri and Illinois are newly in, kicking Iowa State, TCU, Duke and Clemson to the curb.

THIS YOU GOTTA SEE

Indiana at Northwestern (8 p.m. Wednesday, BTN): We can stop asking which Big Ten team is second-best to Purdue, because it’s clearly the Hoosiers — until they lose this one, right?

Clippers at Suns (9 p.m. Thursday, TNT): We are obligated by law to mention this is the back half of a doubleheader that begins with Bucks and Bulls. But what you’re really going to want to check out is this young Durant fella who recently showed up out of the blue in Phoenix.

Daytona 500 (1:30 p.m. Sunday, Fox-32): Will it be Ryan Blaney at the checkered flag? Chase Elliott? Denny Hamlin? Joey Logano? Any other driver names we should Google?

ONLY BECAUSE YOU ASKED

From Taylor, via email: “Since when did scoring the most points or rushing and/or passing for the most yards or hitting the most home runs qualify somebody for GOAT?”

If doing the most of any of those things doesn’t at least introduce someone into the greatest-of-all-time discussion, something is amiss. But is LeBron James better than Michael Jordan was? It’s a no from me. Was Emmitt Smith better than Jim Brown, Walter Payton or Barry Sanders just among running backs? Oh, please. Was Tom Brady better than everyone else at his gig? Part of me still wants to take Joe Montana, but on this one I relent.

Barry Bonds? I’m not about to stump for him.

It’s all subjective, though. Let everyone have their own “GOAT” calls, I say. Baa-aah.

THE BOTTOM FIVE

James Harden: “I don’t look like the crazy one,” he pointed out in an interview about the former Nets Big Three that also included Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. Has he not seen the beard on that dude in the mirror?

Wisconsin: You can’t spell “Badgers” without the “bad.” You can’t blow a 17-point lead at Nebraska without the “bad,” either.

Loyola: The Ramblers are 2-10 in their new conference. Somebody should remind them they joined the Atlantic 10, not the Big 12.

The Super Bowl: It just goes on, year after stinkin’ year, like the Bears don’t even exist. Which they do only in the most technical sense, but still.

“Super Bowl props”: Dang it. I bet plus-750 I wouldn’t write that.

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