Posted BY: Jack Cashill

My wife Joan and I had our first date at a Purdue basketball game many moons ago, and we have watched just about every game we could in the years since.  Our respective approaches to a game are so different that we watch in separate rooms.  She berates.  I encourage.  At the end of the game, Joan looks for someone to blame.  I look for someone to console me.

Until Friday night, when #1 seed Purdue fell to #16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU), there was little need for consoling or blaming.  Purdue had enjoyed a storybook season.  Picked sixth in the 14-team Big 10 in the pre-season, and not ranked at all among the nation’s top 25, Purdue won 22 of its first 23 games and held the #1 spot in AP polls for weeks on end.  Among their wins was a three-game sweep of West Virginia, Gonzaga, and Duke in the Phil Knight Legacy Tournament in November.

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More amazing still, Purdue beat each of these teams — the latter two ranked in top 10 — by a dozen or more points.  Although the Boilermakers stumbled a bit toward season’s end, they won the Big Ten title by a whopping three-game margin; swept the Big 10 post-season tournament; and earned a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament before, alas, falling to Fairleigh Dickinson.

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