Folks. The time is here. It was inevitable, and now it has come. College basketball is officially happening — it is alive and well. As always, the Bucketheads — Connor Lemons and Justin Golba — are back every week with the “Bucketheads” podcast and a weekly “You’re Nuts” article, where they debate different topics around college basketball.
Last week, we debated whether or not we thought the Buckeyes would finish in the top four of the conference this season. Optimistic Justin said yes, while Connor said they would finish just outside the top four and finish fifth in the conference.
The people agreed with Connor, and ‘no’ won more votes than yes.
After 74 weeks (which I am pretty sure is like five years), here are the updated standings.
After 74 weeks:
(There have been four ties)
In honor of the Buckeyes starting their season on Monday against Robert Morris, here is our question for this week. Who will be the team’s most valuable player?
Today’s question: Who will be the team MVP this season?
Connor: Justice Sueing
If Ohio State is going to realize their potential and compete at the top of the Big Ten and make it to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament, Justice Sueing has to play like the best possible version of himself. If he doesn’t play at least 25 games and average somewhere in the neighborhood of 13-14 points per game, this team won’t come close to winning the Big Ten, and they probably aren’t making their first Sweet Sixteen in a decade.
That’s how important Sueing is to this team. Chris Holtmann was “recruiting” Sueing hard from the middle of the season onward to return for another year, because he knew how unsteady this team could be without a steadying force like Sueing bringing it all together.
It’s been so long, people probably forget that Sueing was a straight-up bucket when he played at Cal, averaging 14.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.6 steals (!) per game from 2017-2019. When he finally was able to play for Ohio State during the 2020-2021 season, he only averaged 10.7 points per game, but it was on an efficient 49.1% shooting and on only 7.2 shot attempts per game.
Back then, Ohio State also had Duane Washington and E.J. Liddell demanding the ball, which meant Sueing didn’t need to take nearly as many shots as he did when he was the best player on a bad Cal team. When you look at the numbers, Sueing has always been an efficient scorer, he just hasn’t needed to provide the volume since he got to Ohio State.
This season, Sueing will need to give Ohio State the same minutes and the same shots that he did back when he was at Cal, when he averaged 14.3 PPG on 10.5 shots per game as a sophomore in the PAC-12. The Buckeyes have plenty of players who can give them 8-10 PPG, but Sueing may be the only one who is capable of consistently scoring between 10-15 points each and every night. Ohio State has had “a guy” every year since Holtmann arrived in Columbus: Keita Bates-Diop, Kaleb Wesson, Duane Washington, E.J. Liddell....
Justice Sueing has to be the guy this year.
On top of what he brings offensively, Sueing is 6-foot-7 and 220 pounds. He’s not an elite defender, but he was one of the better thieves (evident by his 1.6 steals per game) in the PAC-12 while he was at Cal. He’s also good for 5-8 rebounds per game, and can switch on defense to guard pretty much anyone except quick, shifty guards.
It’s cliche because Holtmann has said it so many times since Sueing arrived, but he really does so much for Ohio State when he’s on the floor.
Justin: Isaac “Ice” Likekele
I thought my optimism last week would be beneficial. Sadly I was wrong. Nevertheless, we move on.
I am going to take a slightly different route with this one. I agree with Connor that Sueing will be Ohio State’s best player. I have been on the “Sueing can be an all-conference player” since he announced he was coming back and was healthy. However, this question is about the MVP which means Most Valuable Player. I think the Buckeyes MVP will be Oklahoma State transfer and fifth year senior Isaac Likekele.
Likekele is coming in as a Swiss army knife for the Buckeyes and is a guy who can score, pass, rebound and guard the one through the five. Likekele is no stranger to playing an important role, playing in 114 games at Oklahoma State and starting in 110 games.
Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann talked about Ice and his importance to the squad at Big Ten media days.
“When we recruited him at Oklahoma State his coaches said, ‘Coach, he’s gonna be able to guard 1-5 unless you have a towering center in your league,’ which obviously we have a couple,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “Outside of those towering presences, he’s going to be able to guard 1 through 5 so we’ve tried to evaluate that, and we’ve put him in positions.”
Likekele also is the ultimate “do anything” guy, as he will guard any position and play any role that he has too to help the team win.
“Honestly, we’ll see as time tells,” Likekele said at Big Ten media day. “I just go out there and do what’s asked of me, and that’s attack from multiple angles, from the perimeter, from the post. They just ask me to be aggressive and be who I am, which is do everything, all-around game.”
Last season, Likekele averaged 7.1 points, 5.5 rebound and 3.4 assists per game. Through his four seasons as a Cowboy, Ice averaged 8.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. He is also a leader, which will be needed on a team with three transfers and five freshman. He is just a guy that goes out and does whatever he needs to do to help his team win and that is what an MVP does.
Who will be Ohio State’s MVP this season?
This poll is closed
Justice Sueing (Connor)
Isaac "Ice" Likekele (Justin)