Today on Pac-12 Fridays, the Conference of (real NCAA) Champions and its Midwest partners, the B1G, had a pretty special 2016-2017 basketball season. The Oregon Ducks made it to the Final Four, for example, but that was just one highlight for the two conferences, as both leagues placed a combined 11 teams in March Madness. Read on to find out more … Enjoy!
2017 Pac-12 PoY: Dillon Brooks, F, Oregon (original); Lauri Markkanen, F, Arizona (revised)
Arizona and Oregon tied for the regular-season championship, finishing one game ahead of UCLA. No other schools were within four games of the top teams. The Wildcats also won the postseason-tournament title, with a thrilling win over the Ducks in the finals. Oregon forward Dillon Brooks (4.7 WS) was named the league’s Player of the Year, and we have a finite set of players to consider in opposition to him for the honors.
This list includes these stars: UCLA guard Lonzo Ball (6.8), Arizona F Lauri Markkanen (6.7), Oregon F Jordan Bell (6.2), an UCLA F T.J. Leaf (5.8). Wee see the obvious issue here, in terms of teammates on the Bruins and the Ducks, where Markkanen stands out as the only Wildcats player in the top echelon of talent. In fact, the second-best Arizona player, G Rawle Alkins, finished with just 4.0 WS. This means, in our eyes, Markkanen was a dominant player on the best team in the conference.
And he was carrying a heavier load than the other guys, in terms of support from teammates. So he wins our nod with the following traditional stats: 15.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 30.8 mpg, and a 54.5-percent shooting percentage from 2-point range. On paper, the numbers do not jump out, but he led his team to a double double without any significantly dominant partners.
2017 B1G PoY: Caleb Swanigan, F, Purdue (original, confirmed)
Purdue won the regular-season title by two games over Maryland and Wisconsin, while Michigan—which finished fifth in the round robin—won the postseason tournament. It’s hard to take the Wolverines as any more than a fluke winner there, though, so we’re sticking to the other three teams as our potential pool of PoY candidates. The vote winner was Boilermakers F Caleb Swanigan (6.4 WS), a controversial player in league history, for sure.
Our other candidates are to Badgers: Fs Ethan Happ (6.4) and Nigel Hayes (5.2). Swanigan had less help than either of these two Wisconsin players, so we’re going to confirm his award for the following stats: 18.5 ppg, 12.5 rpg, and 3.1 apg in 32.5 mpg. He was a dominant post player, for sure, making it even more sad that he died earlier this year at such a young age (25).