You can call in the dogs. You can douse the fire. The hunt is over. It wasn't easy for Ohio State last night. Feisty Northwestern clung to a one-point lead down the final seconds. But the Buckeyes scraped out a 56-53 win, and with that clinched a share of the conference title and have only lowly Purdue to take care of at home on Sunday to lock it up outright.
Terrance Dials scored 18 points. The victory clinched the Bucks first crown since the four-way tie of 2002 (Earlier this week, I mistakenly said 1992 was the last title year--In fact, '92 was the last outright championship for OSU).
While it might be dissing Purdue to call this one outright for Ohio State right now, one has to be realistic. Purdue has played hard, and hung with Indiana last night--but in the end they still lost by eleven points at home, in a rivalry game, and to a school that hadn't won a conference road game all year. No way do they win at Columbus on Sunday. If this were a political campaign, we'd say sufficient precincts have reported to justify calling Thad Matta the winner of Campaign '06.
When OSU's outright title becomes official on Sunday, we'll have shifted our attention to the NCAA pairings, so Big Ten Country takes this moment to offer congratulations to Buckeye Nation. The academic year of 2005-06 was a special one, with titles in both football & basketball.