Black and gold confetti flew through the air as the final buzzer sounded inside Mackey Arena on Saturday night. For Matt Painter’s Purdue team, the hope is that this was the first of three occasions of that happening, with the second coming in Minneapolis two weeks from Sunday, and the third – most importantly – in Phoenix on April 8.

The Boilermakers have far more important items on their list of things to do during this redemption season, but on Saturday evening, they clinched their second consecutive Big Ten regular-season title. The program has not done that since the 1994-96 seasons. 

Of course, the true gauge of this program’s season is what happens in March Madness after last year’s historic opening-round stumble to FDU, but we are in a golden era of Purdue men’s basketball. This program has gone 55-9 over the last two seasons. 

While Michigan State gave a good fight in West Lafayette on Saturday, the Boilermakers were simply too much, with Zach Edey putting together another dominant performance and Mason Gillis hitting a dagger triple in the final minute to put away the 80-74 win.

Here are three takeaways from Purdue’s win over Michigan State:

1. Zach Edey owns Michigan State.

In two meetings against the Spartans last season, the 7-foot-4, 300-pound tower combined for 70 points and 30 rebounds. On Saturday night, he continued his domination of the Spartans with 32 points and 11 boards. 

It marked his eighth performance of 30-plus points this season and capped off a week in which he took possession of the state of Michigan, combining for 67 points and 26 rebounds in wins over the Spartans and Wolverines. 

If there was ever any small inkling of a doubt that Edey would be named the National Player of the Year, and instead, Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht could make a late push, that’s over.

In primetime against Tom Izzo’s Spartans, Edey once again cemented his status as the best player in the country. He will be the first player to win back-to-back men’s National Player of the Year honors since Ralph Sampson. His senior day against Wisconsin (12:30 p.m. ET Sunday on FOX) will be a day to remember at Mackey Arena. 

Zach Edey sinks a tough and-1 finish to extend Purdue’s lead over Michigan State

2. Fletcher Loyer and Braden Smith spearheaded one of the nation’s best perimeter attacks. 

You can live by the 3, or you can die by it. But here’s the deal: Purdue is a national championship-caliber team because of its level of consistency from around the arc. Of course, it helps to be surrounded by one of the best big men in college hoops history.

The Boilermakers rank third in the country at 40.2% from 3-point territory. On Saturday night, they bolstered that mark with a 10-for-20 output with Smith and Loyer combining to go 8-for-10 from downtown. 

In the first half, when Michigan State got out to a 26-19 lead, Loyer buried two triples as part of an 8-0 run that helped get Purdue settled into the game. When A.J. Hoggard got the Spartans within three with just over nine minutes on the clock in regulation, Smith drilled one to push the lead right back to six. And in the final seven minutes, Gillis buried both of his 3-point attempts. 

In a lot of ways, it sums up what makes this Purdue team more poised for a March run this year as opposed to last year, as Edey, Smith and Loyer combined for 70 points, but two of the biggest shots of the game came from Gillis. The supporting cast has evolved, and the sophomore backcourt duo is so much better off because of the freshman year they got together. 

Last year, the Boilers fell off from 3 this time of year. In the last three games, they’ve shot 29-for-67 from 3-point range, responding nicely from the 3-for-9 showing in the upset loss at Ohio State. Up next: a mammoth showdown at No. 13 Illinois on Tuesday. The Boilers could lock up a No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament with a win in Champaign. 

Mason Gillis sinks a CLUTCH 3-pointer to seal Purdue’s victory over Michigan State

3. Michigan State needs to win a game this week, but Saturday’s effort is encouraging.

The Spartans’ streak of 25 straight NCAA Tournaments is a Big Ten record and the third-longest in NCAA history to only Kansas (33 from 1990-2023) and North Carolina (27 from 1975-2001). That streak should continue for a team that has a NET of 24, four wins in each of Quadrant 1 and 2, and zero bad losses. They are currently a 9-seed in Mike DeCourcy’s latest bracket forecast. That being said, Sparty has lost three in a row. They are 17-12 overall and 9-9 in the Big Ten. It would be in their best interest to win a game this week to shore up their at-large status. 

Michigan State has a Wednesday home game against third-place Northwestern – currently a 7-seed in DeCourcy’s bracket forecast – before traveling to Bloomington for a game at Indiana on Sunday. The Hoosiers currently sit at 7-10 in the Big Ten.

The Spartans shot 9-for-21 from 3-point range against Purdue, which shows why they were in the game, but Tyson Walker needed 15 shot attempts to reach 14 points. He will need to respond better against a Northwestern team that torched the Spartans, 88-74, in January. 

This is a massive week for Michigan State, as the Spartans need to end their current losing streak. If they don’t beat Northwestern, Sunday’s game at Assembly Hall could be quite stressful for a team that was viewed in the preseason as a potential Final Four contender. This season has been far from that in East Lansing. 

Michigan State Spartans vs. No. 2 Purdue Boilermakers Highlights

John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers the sport in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.

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