2/13/2023 Boilermaker Water Cooler Chat: Chaos Edition

Photo: Mark Elsner

Rants, ravings, and somewhat sensical opinions following the wild, wacky, and wide-wide world of Purdue sports

I am sitting here, in the midst of the early stages of our annual Superbowl Party. Guests are starting to show up as I am sipping on a rocks glass, filled with a neat portion of my favorite whiskey. Everyone loves a good party. The food. The excitement. The friendly faces. The fun and memories. You know who else loves a good party?

Big Ten officials love a good party.

Let’s not look into that statement too deeply, right now. Let’s get back to the idea that my current Superbowl shindig is just getting started. The momentum isn’t quite there, yet.

Momentum is a strange thing. I have said before that momentum is mass x velocity. A simple formulation which affects everything in the world around us. For a party, the momentum is when guests start filing in, feeling fine. The food is hot, the booze may be flowing, and people are starting to really get into the moment.

For sports, momentum is the key to success. What influences momentum is the variable which can spin a game into chaos. Maybe a player gets hot. Maybe a superstar goes cold. Maybe garbage falls from the scoreboard and hits a player.

Maybe, now hear me out, the Big Ten officials love a good party.

Purdue this week played in two of the worst officiated games that I have ever seen in the 4-ish decades of watching college basketball. The Boilermakers won one. The Boilermakers lost one.

For the local media trolls who hawkeye my writing (yes I mean you), I want to make one thing completely clear. The Northwestern game, Purdue’s loss this week, was not due to the officiating.

I will say, however, that the officiating got the ball rolling on Northwestern’s momentum. Purdue, did not respond well enough to the rolling boulder. When the officials invite chaos into the game, the unpredictable will follow. The blatantly abhorrent officiating was simply the nudge that got the boulder rolling down hill.

By changing the way the game was called after halftime, by allowing rugby scrums to be commonplace, by changing the definition of goaltending and flagrant foul, feeding into the crowd vibe, chaos was introduced. Chaos can be fun. Chaos can be dangerous. Chaos. Celebration. Chaos won this week.

Big Ten refs love a good chaotic party.

The Games:

Iowa 73, #1 Purdue 87: Purdue jumped out to a huge early lead, and held on against a slap-heavy, poorly officiated press. Boilers defeated the Hawkeyes and Courtney Green, by double digits. Braden Smith had 24, Fletcher Loyer added 17, and Zach Edey scored 14 with 14 rebounds. An impressive victory, despite some butt clenching turnovers due to uncalled fouls from the ferocious Iowa press.

Iowa Photo Gallery: https://snapsbyme.smugmug.com/Purdue-Mens-Basketball/22-23/Iowa/

#1 Purdue 58, Northwestern 64: A game that is only loosely defined as basketball, chaos was introduced by the officiating crew. Northwestern rode the chaos, and Purdue handled it poorly, wetting themselves against the Wildcat pressure. 16 turnovers doomed the Boilers, as a late meltdown allowed the underdogs to take down the Boilers. Edey had 24 points and 8 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough, as he was out dueled by Northwestern G Boo Buie, who scored 26 points in the victory.

NW Photo Gallery: https://snapsbyme.smugmug.com/Purdue-Mens-Basketball/22-23/Northwestern-away-/

Break It Down:

You want to know why the Big Ten fails regularly in the NCAA tournament? This week is why. Two games, both horrifically officiated. One victory. One loss. It only takes one loss to wash out in the Big Dance.

Officiating in the Big Ten is at an all time low. Ed Hightower is retired. Bo Boroski, also retired. TV Ted Valentine, no longer in the Big Ten. I would take those three as a crew 100 times over the distilled and compounded ineptitude that the Big Ten trots out there night in and night out.

Big Ten officials love a party. The reason that the best of the conference never celebrates on the final day of the Big Dance is simple. Each team in the league have been conditioned to change their style of play to hit a moving target. That target is nowhere near a competent game of basketball. That target isn’t even adjacent to the sport. The Big Ten conditions the teams to play in chaos.

Purdue, I am not done with you just yet. I understand that the officials are allowing rugby to be played out there, and that is the literal only way to defeat Zach Edey. I understand that the normally professional Big Ten announcers were openly questioning (bordering on MOCKING) the officiating for this game. I understand that this wasn’t basketball.

Purdue still needs to fight back. The Northwestern game went on tilt with just a few minutes left. For the first time this season, the Boilermaker freshmen played like freshmen down the stretch. The NPOY dominated for much of the game, but had multiple back-breaking turnovers at the end. The team as a whole shot 22.7% from 3.

March Madness is chaos, and Purdue needs to learn to embrace it. Yes, Purdue is 23-3 on the season, and still probably the “best” team in the nation. However, the inability to swing back, and go softly at the end of the Northwestern game is much more damning than the litany of horrid officiating. Allowing a double digit scoring run in the waning moments of tight game, is tough to pin entirely on a referee or three.

I still have faith in this Purdue team. They’ve reached a bit of a nadir of this incredible season, but I would much rather see this happen in February, than March. Matt Painter can tweak this team and coach them up.

Champions respond after weeks like this. We’ll see if this Purdue team is a championship squad.

Purdue still has a 2 game lead in the Big Ten. With the second place teams surging, the once robust Boilermaker lead is now down to 2 games in the conference race. Still very strong lead with 5 games remaining, but the cushion is quickly eroding.

A Look Ahead:

The (as of this writing) #1 Purdue Boilermakers will more than likely fall in the rankings after a second straight week with a loss to an inferior opponent. Two weeks in a row in which the Big Ten officials got the party that they so greatly yearned for. Two weeks in a row in which the court was stormed, as teams won their personal Superbowl against Purdue.

Things are not going to get much easier next time out either. The game that I had pinned as what I assumed would be Purdue’s remaining loss, the Boilermakers travel to Maryland to take on the Terps. Maryland students are incredibly vicious, so expect a strong showing out east.

Following that, Purdue hosts Ohio State on Sunday 1/19. Ohio State, for some reason, is having an awful season, despite having multiple 5* players and a boatload of talent. Also, they’re looking for some revenge, as Purdue stole one from them earlier this season.

Well, the Superbowl has finally kicked off, and my party is starting to gain some momentum here. Hope you all enjoyed the big game, and I hope everyone made it to work on Monday!

I, like the Big Ten officials, love me a good party!

For more content like this follow @ISC_Purdue on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. For a deeper look into the mad mind of Ben Kolodzinski, follow him at @BRKolo on Twitter. WARNING: Viewer’s discretion is advised…

About Benjamin Kolodzinski 83 Articles
Blending the passion of a sports fan with years of media experience, Ben Kolodzinski is a unique personality for ISC Purdue. Since the 2017-18 NCAA seasons, Ben has written weekly columns for ISC, with a style that can only be described as snarky, irreverent, and often times irrelevant. A 2008 graduate from Purdue West Lafayette, Kolodzinski has worked for several local and regional media outlets. Best known for his television and radio work at Lakeshore Public Media (Lakeshore Public Television, and 89.1 The Lakeshore), Kolodzinski helped grow Northwest Indiana's only nightly news show Lakeshore News Tonight, along with The Region's only local sports shows Prep Sports Report, and Prep Football Report. As of 2022, Kolodzinski hosts Lakeshore Gamenight, a prep football radio show and cohosts Lakeshore PBS Scoreboard, a prep football TV highlight show. Kolodzinski is known, locally, for having a fun loving and gregarious personality, and for attempting to inject humor into his reporting... sometimes successfully.

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