The Boilermakers are inconsistent, it's what they do. The issue reared it's ugly head a few years prior and for whatever reason will not go away. So the end result of this weekends Notre Dame loss should be no surprise, with the Boilers keeping pace with the Irish for the first half and then suddenly getting doubled up on in the second half.
Losing to Notre Dame wasn't exactly unexpected when you realize that the Irish are once again pretty good, as well as the fact that the Boilermakers simply cannot win in the Crossroads Classic. But getting outscored 48-24 in the second half a week after dropping a tough one to Vanderbilt puts Purdue in a rough position. Purdue should be 9-4 heading into Big Ten play, which isn't the end of the world, but they do leave several potential quality wins on the board while adding an inexplicable loss to North Florida. So while the Boilermakers could have put themselves in pretty good position heading into conference play, now a upper half finish in the conference will likely be required if they want to reach the postseason.
The scary thing is for as much dysfunction we've seen in December for Purdue, it's nothing compared to what the conference has been doing night in and night out. Somehow Purdue managed to lose to lowly North Florida, get shot out of the arena by Vanderbilt and get beaten by 31 points by Notre Dame and none of these failures were even noticed by fans of the conference at large.
Of course that's what happens when you have one of the nation's top conferences look more like one of the worst.
Purdue's loss to North Florida, which would have traditionally been ridiculed, was largely ignored in favor of Michigan's shocking loss to the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Before anyone can could take in anything else the Wolverines one upped themselves with a loss to an Eastern Michigan program that literally resides down the road from Ann Arbor. Not to be outdone, Nebraska decided to get in on the fun with a loss to the widely unknown Incarnate Word.
Now we're at a point in the season where two of the top teams (per record) are Penn State and Maryland. If you haven't watched either team it should be noted that the Nittany Lions have won eight of their last nine games by an average of 3.9 points per game. Oh, and those eight wins have came across a group of teams with a combined 39-42 record as Penn State has slipped by a who's who of middling-to-awful programs. As for Maryland? Well they manage to keep winning in ugly fashion, mainly thanks to one of the nations easiest schedules so far (per KenPom).
Outside of Wisconsin holding it's own so far this season, the reality is the class of the Big Ten so far is probably Indiana, a program that has overcome it's (somewhat) bad loss to Eastern Washington, added a few quality wins and looked decisively better than most people penned them a few months back. Indiana was once again the highlight this past Saturday, knocking off Butler by nine points on what was a very, very bad day for the conference.
No, seriously. Past the Hoosiers victory the next best thing was Illinois barely beating Missouri on a game winning three pointer by Rayvonte Rice. That same Tigers team got decimated by the Boilermakers and is currently 5-6. That's the harsh reality of the Big Ten right now, though, with the only other two wins on Saturday being a five point Penn State win over a two win Drexel squad while Northwestern snuck by a bad Western Michigan team.
So while Purdue was getting taken to the woodshed and embarrassed in the second half no one cared enough to even make a snide remark. Everyone was too amused by Michigan getting beat by double digits at home against SMU, followed by Ohio State dropping to a hit or miss North Carolina program and another Rutgers loss to a team a lot of their fans have likely never heard of. Topping off the night was Michigan State losing to Texas Southern in overtime. I'd mention Texas Southern's 1-8 record coming in, but that was the end result of a SWAC program scheduling a non-conference slate of money games. Still, the program has lost by double digits in all eight losses, including a 40 point loss to Gonzaga in their most recent game heading into Saturday.
The icing on the cake? Iowa made three second half field goals and lost to Northern Iowa by 15 points. Sounds about right.
It's going to be Christmas in a few days and it makes little sense to get brought down by the recent state of Purdue basketball (we can worry about that in January). Until we get there, though, at least the rest of the conference has decided to make Purdue fans feel a little bit better because regardless of how poorly Purdue has fared the last few weeks, at least we haven't stumbled and embarrassed ourselves as badly as some of the other top Big Ten programs. And considering the last few weeks, that's definitely saying something.
With the conference looking this bad versus suspect competition, it raises the question of what is going to happen around the league once these teams have to start playing each other each night. It'll definitely be an interesting to watch over the next three months.