Long before TCU beat Kansas, we knew that this college basketball season was not going to follow much of a logical path. Penn State’s win over Michigan only confirmed that. Sunday at the Kohl Center in Madison it might not have been an upset of the magnitude of the two aforementioned games, but Purdue ousted No. 17 Wisconsin, 69-56, to hurt the Badgers in the race for the Big Ten regular season title.
Wisconsin had won six of its previous seven games. Purdue had lost six of its last eight. The Badgers had won 68 of their previous 70 at the Kohl Center against unranked Big Ten team. But, as we learned, conventional logic can take a seat on the sidelines.
The Badgers, a Top 60 rebounding team, were outrebounded by 10 and shot just 40 percent from the floor. D.J. Byrd had 22 points, including 6-of-9 shooting from three-point range.
But the important part is not the game itself, but rather the state of the Big Ten race.
Wisconsin was fortunate to draw one of the more favorable back stretches in the Big Ten. Its final five games were against Northwestern and Nebraska, taken care of, Sunday’s game against Purdue, one tough road game against No. 9 Michigan State, and finishing up with Penn State.
Indiana, by contrast, had Michigan State, Minnesota, Iowa, Ohio State, and Michigan. But, with this loss, Wisconsin now needs the Hoosiers to lose their final two games and the Badgers need to win both of theirs to pull into a tie atop the Big Ten race. How feasible is that? Indiana already traveled to Columbus and beat Ohio State, and will soon to welcome the Buckeyes to Bloomington. The Hoosiers also beat Michigan earlier this year.
The Hoosiers currently sit at 13-3, being chased by Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin. And the road just got a whole lot tougher for coach Bo Ryan and the Badgers, especially considering that Indiana controls its own destiny.