Skull Session: It’s Time for Duke to Get Dumped, Ohio State and Michigan Should Be Playing in the B1G Championship and Alabama Shouldn’t Make the CFP

Welcome to the Wednesday Skull Session.

There’s some basketball, there’s some football and there’s some other stuff in this edition of the Skully. Please enjoy.

Let’s have a good Wednesday, shall we?

 GET DUMPED THEN, DUKE. The Ohio State University men’s basketball team plays Duke on Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, which will unfortunately end this week after a 23-year run, according to Andy Katz.

The No. 25 Buckeyes, who appeared in the AP Top 25 poll for the first time this season after picking up two wins at the Maui Invitational, will battle the No. 17 Blue Devils in what will be one of Ohio State’s most challenging regular-season matchups.

Head coach Chris Holtmann expects a hostile environment at Cameron Indoor for the game for two reasons. The first is that Duke is coming off a 75-56 loss to Purdue on Sunday in Portland, Oregon, where the Blue Devils were dominated from start to finish. The second is that Ohio State knocked off Duke, 71-66, in Columbus last year when the Blue Devils were the top-ranked team in the nation.

Whenever Duke loses on the hardwood, it is a glorious occasion. I want to make that much very clear. But it was especially glorious when the Buckeyes beat the Blue Devils at the Schott last season.

Ohio State had already two losses to Xavier and Florida before the matchup, so nobody – and I mean nobody – expected the Basketbucks to defeat Coach K and company. However, that’s exactly what the Buckeyes did 365 days ago.

Zed Key led the team with 20 points, followed by E.J. Liddell with 14 and Cedric Russell with 12 off the bench. Liddell and Russell were also the players to seal the victory for the Buckeyes, as the former buried a mid-range jumper and the latter sank two free throws in the final moments to give Ohio State its five-point win.

Excluding Key, who will undoubtedly do his best to raise the roof for Ohio State on Wednesday, the Buckeyes will rely on an entirely new set of players to defeat Duke on the road, and I can’t wait to see who steps up to the plate. Justice Sueing is the likely candidate after dropping a 33-piece on Texas Tech last week. I’ll also look to see what Brice Sensabaugh – who is averaging a team-best 15.8 (!) points through his first six games as a Buckeye – can do against another ranked opponent.

At 7:15 p.m., we will find out if it’s Key, Sueing, Sensabaugh or another player who steps up for the Buckeyes as Ohio State attempts to claim its second straight win over Duke and third victory in their last four matchups dating back to 2011.

 WHAT DO YOU THINK? If the Big Ten were without divisions this season, a structure the league could adopt in the future, Ohio State wouldn’t be at home licking its wounds while Michigan prepares to face an 8-4 Purdue team in the conference title game on Saturday.

Instead, the Buckeyes and Wolverines would be preparing themselves for round two of The Game this year at the Big Ten Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

I have a lot of thoughts on this, and I’m sure you do, too.

The first thought is that Ohio State and Michigan are clearly the two best teams in the Big Ten, with none of the other programs – aside from Penn State – really being that close. With that said, the Buckeyes and Wolverines should absolutely be playing in the conference championship instead of Michigan and a Purdue team that is average at best and will act as a doormat for the Wolverines as they reach their second straight College Football Playoff.

But then I have second thoughts. The Game and its history is too rich to have its significance diminished with a matchup in the Big Ten Championship Game only one week after the teams played each other the first time. In most seasons since the first conference title, whoever won The Game earned the right to play for a conference title and was rewarded with the sacrificial lamb out of the West division as a prize. That shouldn’t change moving forward.

I might even have more thoughts that I can’t articulate properly yet, but those are the two I have the most regarding this discussion.

Truth be told, I am conflicted and don’t know how to feel. I understand the Big Ten will (likely) abandon divisions soon, and I better get ready to see Ohio State and Michigan playing in the title game in the future, but for now, I am still weary of the idea.

Therefore, I ask you. What would you think about Ohio State and Michigan playing in the Big Ten Championship Game in the future? Tell me how to feel, people!

 NOT A CHANCE. Some Alabama fans were wildin’ on Twitter earlier this week claiming that Alabama should reach the College Football Playoff over Ohio State should TCU and USC lose in their respective conference championships this weekend.

Folks, I don’t understand how delusional a rational person can come to that conclusion. However, enough people have considered the idea that Joel Klatt addressed the narrative on his podcast on Tuesday.

And a quick note of advice from me to you: If you run into any Alabama fans who believe their team should make the CFP over Ohio State – again, in the instance that TCU or USC lose – save yourself the time and energy of having a long, drawn-out argument and link them this clip. I promise you it will be worth it. That is, unless you like taunting the Crimson Tide faithful. If that’s the case, by all means, argue away.

 PAY IT FORWARD. Paris Johnson Jr. and his non-profit organization, The Paris Johnson Jr. Foundation, have partnered with local Columbus companies to conduct a toy drive this holiday season for veteran and underserved families in Central Ohio.

Partners in this initiative include Giant Eagle, Mark Wahlberg Chevrolet and Hometeam Properties, who will have bins located on their respective properties from Nov. 29 to Dec. 5. Johnson will be at the Giant Eagle Market District in Grandview from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 5. Fans who donate new toys can get a picture taken with the Ohio State left tackle.

From a Paris Johnson Jr. Foundation press release:

The goal of the Toy Drive is to provide holiday cheer to both Veteran and underserved families in our community. With the help of many individuals and companies like Giant Eagle, Hometeam Properties, and Mark Wahlberg Chevrolet, The Paris Johnson Jr. Foundation aims to collect new toys, which will be distributed by the Dream Center to the families in need.

“Every kid should feel the joy of opening a gift during the holiday season,” said Buckeye’s
Offensive Tackle Johnson, Jr. “My mom always taught me to be grateful for what I have and I was privileged enough to enjoy the excitement of receiving gifts and toys this time of year. With my platform, I am giving back to the children of Veterans and families that need help.”

Johnson Jr. aims to continue to provide support to those who struggle most in the cities he loves and is so grateful for all the selfless help the Foundation continues to receive along the way – from individuals, fans, media and his community partners.

“My family and I love serving and giving back to our community,” said Daniels. “We are so
grateful for all the donors and volunteers that help make these events possible, and I hope we can all look for ways to serve others and reflect on what matters most during this holiday season.”

Johnson was championed for his charitable work earlier this year when he was honored with the Armed Forces Merit Award, given annually to an individual or group with a military background and involvement that has an impact within the realm of college football.

Hat tips to Johnson for his continued efforts in this area. He has made a significant impact for the Buckeyes on the field and an even bigger impact on the city of Columbus off it. Cheers to him, and make sure to get out there and donate, Buckeye Nation.

 SONG OF THE DAY. “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5.

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