Skull Session: Malaki Branham is Ridiculously Good, Ohio State Makes Simulated Final Four and Buckeye Receiver Trio Was Fun

By Kevin Harrish on February 25, 2022 at 4:59 am
Malaki Branham gets a bucket in today's skull session.

Since this is my show and I've never once claimed to be humble, I'm going to go ahead and let you all know that I sent this Tweet as soon as Illinois scored to go up 21-8 midway through the first half, which turned out to be the Illini's biggest lead of the game.

Let me know if you need me to make any predictions about your life. I take Venmo.

Word of the Day: Maraud.

 FAREWELL TOUR. As early as *checks notes* yesterday, I earnestly believed that Malaki Branham would be back playing for the Buckeyes next season. Well, I was an idiot yesterday. He gone.

I maintain that if he came back next year, he could be a Big Ten or National Player of the Year candidate and a lottery pick, but the way he's playing right now, I'm just not sure that's going to be a drastic improvement.

The dude is a walking bucket. In the past three games, he's been the most efficient scorer in the entire country, posting games of 22 points, 27 points and 31 points. All on just 40 shots. I'm just trying to be realistic here – that's just not the type of player that usually comes back to school.

Sure, I guess you have to consider the rest of his season and maybe those three games turn out to be an outlier when all is said and done, but I wouldn't bet on that. I think it's more likely this is a Mike Conley situation where he not only plays himself into the draft these next weeks, he turns himself into a lottery pick. Cause he only seems to be getting better every game.

Unless some heroic local business owner comes in like a white knight and drastically overpays him for a couple of television spots and an "internship," I've made peace with the fact that this is going to be his only season in Scarlet and Gray.

 FINAL FOUR, BABY! Folks, I've got good news – Ohio State's going to the Final Four.

Someone took Joe Lunardi's latest bracket projections and ran it through a simulator. And the simulator loved the Buckeyes (as simulators notoriously do).

Final Four!

Beating Michigan to reach the Final Four would be a special kind of glorious, but the most fascinating thing about this projection isn't even the Buckeyes, it's Rutgers' run on the other end of the bracket. Maybe the computer thinks all the games would be played at the RAC?

In any case, I'm hopeful we see a long(er) Ohio State run in the tournament this year. Between this and the Washington Post simulation of 2020, the Buckeyes have as many simulated Final Fours as they do actual NCAA Tournament wins.

To be fair, they haven't played a game in those simulated tournaments – 2020 got canceled and 2022 hasn't happened yet – but I'm ready to see them do some actual madness in March.

 EXTREMELY FUN. I had fun watching Ohio State's absurd trio of wide receivers this season. Turns out, the rest of the country did too.

David Ubben of The Athletic gives a nice ode to the three Buckeye receivers as part of his piece on Saying goodbye to the NFL prospects college football fans loved the most.

All of the Ohio State wide receivers: Watching Chris Olave, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Garrett Wilson ritualistically destroy secondaries this season was awesome. All three were capable of winning the Biletnikoff Award but likely canceled one another out via votes and targets. It won’t matter at the next level. The three were productive and spectacular, and seeing Smith-Njigba set Utah’s secondary on fire in the Rose Bowl for 347 yards, three touchdowns and 15 catches was the finest moment for this group. I haven’t seen a performance like that in years. I’d say this trio was the best receiving corps in a long time in college football, but this group is neck and neck with Alabama’s wide receivers in 2020, another generational group of pass catchers.

I agree with every word, but I get the impression that David thinks Jaxon Smith-Njigba is also leaving for the NFL.

To be fair, that's a very reasonable thing to conclude about a guy who just had the most prolific receiving season in Ohio State history and put up video game numbers in the last game he played. But unfortunately for Big Ten defensive backs, the rules dictate that he will have to play one more season for the Buckeyes.

 SNUBBED! Today, I am outraged on behalf of Dawand Jones, who was absolutely snubbed by this list.

I'm not even sure which sport he should be most upset about getting snubbed from, because he *should* be on there for both football and basketball. And he's properly salty.

But that's not anything a little healthy trash talk can't fix.

 SONG OF THE DAY. "Holiday In The Sun" by Sex Pistols.

 NOT STICKING TO SPORTS. Why young people are choosing to go on sober dates... The bus driver who confessed to stealing a Goya masterpiece... A 14-year-old girl allegedly tried to hire a hitman to kill her ex-boyfriend... A cargo ship with Bentley, Porsche and other luxury cars is still floating without a crew in the Atlantic Ocean... A woman quits her job to breastfeed her bodybuilding boyfriend full time... In search of cracks in Albert Einstein's theory of gravity...

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