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Purdue on Top in Big Ten

Dr. James H. Smart, president of Purdue and founder of the nation's first athletic conference, the Big Ten, in 1895.

Okay, now I’m certain the basketball gods are conspiring to bless my little heart. Purdue beat Ohio State and Illinois this week; OSU then went to East Lansing and walloped Michigan State—putting my beloved Boilermakers in sole possession of first place in the Intercollegiate Conference of Faculty Representatives, otherwise known as the Big Ten.

One favorable event is a random act; two are a coicidence. But when three similar things happen, you’ve got a pattern on your hands. I’m going to have to break down and buy a TV!

I haven’t watched the idiot box since Jack got sick in 1986; there just wasn’t time to take care of him, do his job and mine, cook and clean and pay the bills, plus turn into a couch potato every night. By the time I got done with my work, prime time was over. And I didn’t miss it. I blame television for everything that’s wrong with society; how else can you explain Sarah Palin?

Think of those thousands of commercials I missed!

But now the Boilers are sitting all alone on top of the standings in men’s basketball. That’s miracle #1, thanks to Keaton Grant’s 15 points off the bench Saturday against the Illini. (He equalled his season high of 13 three days earlier against the Buckeyes.)

Keaton Grant earlier this year. (Michael Conroy/AP)

As the 4th-ranked team in the country in both the AP and coaches’ polls (#3 as of tomorrow, I bet), the Boilers may receive a #1 seed in the Best Sports Event in the World (the NCAA Tournament) beginning in three weeks. The #1 seed receives the easiest path to regional victory and a chance at the Final Four. (That’s miracle #2.)

But now wait, because this third event is truly miraculous. I have just found out that the off-brand cable company that serves my hometown (pop. 1800) just 45 miles north of the Purdue campus has finally decided, after years of delay, there might be customers here for the Big Ten Network.

Crash, that’s the sound of me keeling over dead.

Obviously I’m old enough to remember when all Purdue basketball games were televised for free on one broadcast station, WTTV, Channel 4 in Indianapolis. But those days are gone, because businessmen figured out how to charge people money for what used to be free. (Gas stations now charge you to put air in your own tires, too.) Now, college basketball is scattered all over the pay-TV dial, from ESPN (1, 2, U and 360) to CBS to BTN. The only way to watch is with cable or satellite, and the only thing I have any interest in seeing is Purdue sports. Just think of all those reality TV shows I’ve missed. (I still wouldn’t recognize Paris Hilton or Brittany Spears if they walked up and kissed me on the mouth.)

Cable TV costs a minimum of $400 a year, and without the Big Ten Network I had no reason to subscribe.

Now, however, a miracle I’ve waited a lifetime for might actually take place: Purdue winning the National Championship next month in Indianapolis. I have to get cable; I owe it to myself not to miss this.

Of course, TV technology has changed, and my old analog TV, which I still have from the days when Jack would watch “Roseanne” back in the ’80s, and which weighs 90 pounds and isn’t worth moving, is out of date. I not only have to sign up for cable, I have to buy a new idiot box.

So I’ve been shopping online, and my my my, what pretty new boxes they have these days. They weigh less too.

I’ve found out about a new American manufacturer named Vizio, which makes TVs that use less energy, even below the standards of EnergyStar 3.0. They sell a 32-inch set with 1080 pixels and 120 Hz for a list price of $548; maybe less if I can find a good deal.

For $200 less you can get a Vizio 32-incher with 720 pixels and 60 Hz, but the pixels and refresh rate matter a lot in picture quality; since this is going to be the last TV I ever buy, let’s not be a cheapskate. OTOH, an extra 10 inches costs $200 more at $748, which is more than my house payment. What to do???

Let’s try dreaming.

Purdue Wins National Championship in High-Def!!!

That’s one way to look at it. Or:

purduelosesin2ndroundtono-name-u — in which case I don’t want to see it even in low-def.

Which do I think will happen?

The Boilers are #4 in the country, sitting atop the Big Ten with three games left to play. When Illinois took out JuJuan Johnson, Purdue’s high-scoring big man, yesterday, up came Grant off the bench; that’s the mark of a championship team, finding a way to win no matter what. Purdue’s riding a 9-game winning streak, after putting together a 14-game streak to start the season. (They had three straight losses in between.) They’re one of the hottest teams in the country, almost sure to get a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Even better, this year’s team is dominated by juniors: Johnson, Robbie Hummel, E’Twaun Moore. All of them will be back next year.

I think I’d better buy the best damn TV I can afford. This will be my last chance to see the cutest guy in basketball, Purdue senior Chris Kramer.

Life is a crapshoot. GO BOILERS!

The Secretary of Defense, Purdue's Chris Kramer. (Don Ryan/AP)

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