For our entry this week on Pac-12 Fridays, we go back seemingly to another lifetime in the Conference of (real NCAA) Champions and its Midwest partners, the B1G. Both leagues played exciting basketball, of course, with the top teams pushing to the top of the rankings. However, only 1 team from the two conferences combined made it to the Final Four, and that was somewhat of a fluke as that team faced no seed higher than sixth all the way to the NCAA Tournament Final.

2018 Pac-12 PoY: Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona (original, confirmed)

The Arizona Wildcats pulled off the double double with a regular-season title, earned with a 2-game margin over Southern California, and a postseason-tournament title, capped off by a win in the final over the Trojans. So, that’s our pool for candidates right there, and Arizona center Deandre Ayton (7.6 WS) won the PoY vote at the time, finishing a full 2.0 WS higher than the next-best player. But third in the conference was Wildcats guard Allonzo Trier (5.5)—does that diminish Ayton’s value?

Looking at the USC roster, the best player there was G Jordan McLaughlin (5.3), joined by forward Chimezie Metu (4.4). Obviously, the Arizona duo was better, and Ayton was heads and shoulders above the rest (no pun intended). We choose to reward him for his dominance here, despite having a top-notch teammates, as his WS mark is so much better than everyone else’s in the conference. We confirm the vote.

2018 B1G PoY: Keita Bates-Diop, F, Ohio State (original, confirmed)

Michigan State won the regular-season title—the first of three in a row—by 1 game over both Ohio State and Purdue, while fourth-place Michigan grabbed the tournament title over the Boilermakers. That’s our candidate pool there, and the vote went to Buckeyes F Keita Bates-Diop (6.1 WS). That mark was second best in the league, after Wolverines G Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (6.3). Purdue had three of the top 9 WS earners in the conference, so none of them make the cut.

Both Michigan and Michigan State had two players in the Top 9, while Bates-Diop was the only Ohio State player in the Top 10. The next-best Buckeyes contributor was F Jae’Sean Tate (4.0), so it’s clear that Ohio State relied heavily on its front-court stars to get to within breathing distance of the regular-season crown. We will confirm the vote, as a result.