CHICAGO — It’s strange, dedicating a time for celebration to worry. But such is the peculiar nature of Purdue’s 67-65 Big Ten championship game win over Penn State.

Though the Boilermakers cut down the nets at United Center, nothing about the game’s final minutes inspired confidence that the scene will play out again this month.

The Nittany Lions exposed Purdue’s Achilles heel in those final minutes, and it’s a guarantee every ensuing opponent will attempt to exploit it.

That weakness, very obviously, is not Zach Edey.

The 7-foot-4 behemoth is the most imposing structure made in Toronto since the CN Tower. He continued his run of dominance in the Big Ten Tournament, coasting to MVP honors as he recorded his 26th double-double of the season with 30 points and 13 rebounds.

Edey is simply unstoppable. But Purdue, at times, is quite stoppable. This team will only go as far as its backcourt can carry it.

And how far that is remains a huge question mark.

“We look forward to making a run in the NCAA Tournament,” Matt Painter said as he accepted the Big Ten championship trophy.

But will they?

A weakness put on display

Painter had the right idea when he brought Edey to the bench with 6:18 left in the game.

The Boilermakers were in complete control. Purdue had a 60-43 lead. Brandon Newman’s defense was taking Penn State star Jalen Pickett out of his game like no one else was able to in this tournament.

Painter had the best of both worlds — a chance to steal a breather for his star in preparation for the NCAA Tournament while coasting to the Big Ten title.

Surviving more than 6 minutes without Edey ended up being a case of wishful thinking.

The Nittany Lions dialed up full-court pressure, and Purdue’s backcourt nearly collapsed in the process. Improbably, Penn State had the ball with 6 seconds to go and a chance to win the game out of a timeout.

Ironically, given the nature of Penn State’s comeback, it was an unforced turnover that did the Nittany Lions in — a travel with a second left on the clock.

Painter had both a glass half-full and half-empty approach — all-realist, if you will — to the Boilers snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

“I thought today was great, because we had 3 costly turnovers at the end. We couldn’t make an open shot. And we still find a way to win,” Painter said. “We need to practice [against the press]. We do actually practice that. I know you couldn’t tell. We have to do a better job of helping each other on offense.”

The NCAA selection committee hammered that point home just in case Purdue’s performance didn’t do all the talking.

The good news?

The Boilermakers are a No. 1 seed for the first time since 1996. And that’s an achievement worthy of celebration.

“This is Paint’s first No. 1 seed, so it’s an honor to be part of that,” Edey said.

The bad news?

For starters, Purdue’s history as the top seed isn’t all too glorious.

That ’96 Purdue team nearly became the first 1-seed to lose to a 16-seed, escaping the first round with a 73-71 win over Western Carolina. No. 8 seed Georgia, coached by Tubby Smith, finished off the Boilers in the next round.

But that’s the past. In reality, a total non-factor. It’s the present that’s far more troubling.

This draw is about as unfriendly as when No. 1 seed Illinois got paired up with Loyola in the second round in 2021.

The Boilers could get 8th-seeded Memphis in the second round. Penny Hardaway’s Tigers love, love, love to press. If you were to engineer a team custom-built to beat Purdue, this is what it would look like.

It would stand to reason, therefore, that No. 9 seed Florida Atlantic would make a more appealing matchup.

But coach Dusty May is a former Bob Knight team manager at Indiana. Beating Purdue is baked into his DNA.

All of that is just backstory, of course. The more pertinent detail is that the Owls are 31-3 and probably deserved a 7-seed rather than a 9. Under-seeded teams are always dangerous in the second round.

Purdue may be a 1-seed, but it easily has the most daunting second-round draw of the 4 teams to earn that prize.

Something to build on

Again, a team just won a championship here. Doom and gloom is an incongruent tone for the moment. Confetti was dropped. Nets were cut down. Edey dropped an F-bomb on national TV in his postgame glee.

Purdue should be celebrating this season, which is among the best we’ve seen in the Big Ten in the past decade.

Maybe I’m guilty of focusing on the 42 years that have passed without a Purdue Final Four appearance.  This team does not automatically deserve to be painted with a brush that includes all of those to come before it.

But it does have some very legitimate concerns that have nothing to do with those previous failures.

Purdue’s backcourt shows flashes of being capable of carrying this team on a deep Tournament run.

Like Newman shutting down an all-American counterpart for almost an entire game. Or David Jenkins coming off the bench for 11 points in 20 minutes.

The Boilers were plus-11 when Jenkins was on the floor. Perhaps some more of him wouldn’t hurt — especially when starting point guard Braden Smith is 0-for-8 from the field as he was Sunday afternoon.

Failure isn’t guaranteed for Purdue merely because it is March. Success, however, will most certainly need to be earned. But after all these decades of angst, maybe that’s just the way it’s meant to be if the Boilers are finally going to break through.