Zack Eddy “The Beast” Purdue is so good, he’s already a virtual lock to be National Player of the Year

West Lafayette, Indiana. – It’s January 29th. Selection is still Sunday in the distance, 42 days. It doesn’t matter.

The National Player of the Year race is over, for all intents and purposes.

The truth is, in practice, it looks like it’s been close to a deal done for weeks; in the first place Bordeauxwin 77-61 on sunday on Michigan State was the clincher. This has been Zach Eddy’s losing run since Week 3 of the season, when Purdue went from unranked to undefeated and moved into the top five on the back of Eddy’s dominant play on PK85.

Barring (and God forbid) any serious injury, the 7-foot-4 junior center from Toronto will walk away with all the accolades and become just the third Boilermaker to win National Player of the Year. When Zach Edey receives his titles in March and April, he will join a pair of Purdue legends who have played six decades apart: John Wooden and Glenn Robinson.

Any window may have been opened with difficulty GonzagaDrew Tim, KansasGalen Wilson OR IndianaTrace Jackson-Davis was locked out with an elbow on Sunday after Eddie bit his lip on his way to a career-high 38 points and 13 rebounds against the Spartans. The statistical gap between Eddie and Wilson who is second in the KenPom.complayer of the year algorithm, Laughably big – as in Edey-size.

“We just couldn’t cover it,” said MSU coach Tom Izzo. “He’s bigger than any player I’ve ever trained against, he’s more skillful with his hands than any player I’ve ever trained against.”

Eddie, who plays with a Zen-like calm most days, was demonstrative and unusually emotional at points during the dominant win.

“When you start tasting blood, you kind of start off a little,” Eddie told CBS Sports. “It kind of ignites you.”

The 38th and Edey’s 13 went with three assists, three steals and a block. Only one other Purdue player has ever posted a line that matches that: Robinson. He did it against the little one Portland in 1993. Edey did it against a Hall of Fame coach and against a team that was undefeated Purdue by only one point on January 16 – a game won on Edey’s shot with 2.2 seconds remaining (Edey had 32 and 13 in that one).

Purdue’s Zack Eddy upped his game after taking an elbow to the lip.

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“It was probably the most disappointing defensive performance we’ve had,” Izzo said. “If one player gets 70 points in two games, you can’t blame your players for that, you blame the coach.”

Ezo shouldn’t get himself down, though there’s just something about Sparti that drives Eddie’s blood. He’s redefined his single-game scoring record three times in the past two seasons versus MSU. Sunday was his best release yet of Michigan State’s worst nightmare.

“When you can, at the end of the day, stop anywhere on this side of the equator and throw a ball up in the air and this beast is going to get it, it makes it a little bit easier,” said Izzo.

And he did it after waking up on the wrong side of the bed. Eddie told me he’s a night owl, not a morning person. Sunday’s game was at 12:15 p.m., so he set his alarm for 8 a.m. and fought the snooze button until he knew he didn’t have much time before dragging himself out of bed and scrambling to meet for the team’s breakfast at 8:30. He was a little eccentric.

“I’ve seen my emotions run, I was almost trying to go on my own,” Eddie told CBS Sports. “I had a morning leg.”

So: Eddie got up motionless for an early tip and then walked out and had the best performance of his career. I guess Michigan State is lucky it wasn’t an evening tip. The pick-me-up that Edey requested was provided by the Purdue faithful. According to the school, Sunday’s game reached 123.2 decibels, the “highest decibel reading on record at Maki Arena.”

Eddy averaged 22.1 points, 13.0 rebounds, the most points and boards combined per game of any player in the country. He also shoots 2.2 shots per game. The 7-4 monster has become a master.

“He’s very unselfish,” Boilermakers coach Matt Painter said. “Probably the best statistic is no turnover.”

Eddie is casually dominant, he has taken the tension out of the question of who is the best player in the sport. While news of Edey’s place in the college hoops hasn’t been completely out, the nature of how far he’s come against all of his peers is bizarre. It is almost never seen that the Player of the Year debate will be without discussion in January. Look back over the years and it’s rare that someone has broken up so much.

It’s like Zion.

Even more amazing, Eddie still isn’t around as a player. He runs off the field while learning on the job. He hasn’t played organized basketball in six full years now.

“It’s something really special, something you don’t have to take for granted,” said new teammate Fletcher Lauer. “I feel bad for the other teams.”

His game certainly lacks some finesse and ferocity and needs fine tuning, but he’s effective and unmistakable. There is no balance an opponent can offer. There is no one like Eddie. Factor in the fact that he’s the centerpiece of a 21-1 ranked Purdue team and that thing wrapped. The Boilermakers (10-1 in the league) are the only ranked team in the Big Ten, two games clear in the standings…

… clings …

It says here that Northwestern is in second place?

yes. Like I said: it’s a cover.

There hasn’t been a Big Ten team with a good start since then Ohio State Opened 24-0 in 2010-11. Through 22 matches, no one can break 70 in Bordeaux. The best team with the best player. Easy like that. The Boilers (who will nonetheless almost certainly lose at least one more game in conference, and will likely be on the road) have no peer this year in this league. Edey’s status combined with Purdue’s dominance makes this gap insurmountable, both for Edey in the NPOY race and for Purdue in the Big Ten chase.

Eddie is walking towards a season with at least 775 points, 453 rebounds, and 77 rebounds. The Sports Reference database only lists one player to clear those criteria in a single season: David Robinson in 1986-87. You know what Robinson did in 1987? The same thing Eddie will do in two months: sweep every single award he deserves.

The only unknown here is how much better Purdue and Edey can get between now and the NCAA tournament.

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