Our last 2022 entry for this Pac-12 Fridays miniseries sees the Conference of (real NCAA) Champions and its Midwest partners, the B1G, achieving the great feat of placing 4 teams combined in the Elite Eight … alas, only one of the schools made it to the Final Four, and that school did not play for the national title. But it’s hardly a knock against the two leagues in terms of overall strength on the national scene. Enjoy our review of the special season!
2014 Pac-12 PoY: Nick Johnson, G, Arizona (original); Jordan Adams, G, UCLA (revised)
After spending 8 weeks ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll, the Arizona Wildcats won the conference regular-season title by three games over the UCLA Bruins on their way to the Elite Eight. However, in the conference tournament final, the Bruins upset the Wildcats, 75-71, to claim the tourney crown. No other school finished within 2 games of UCLA in the round-robin standings, so we have our set pool of candidates, led by PoY vote winner, Arizona guard Nick Johnson (6.7 WS).
Right after Johnson in the conference Top 5 for value were two Bruins players: G Jordan Adams (6.4) and G Kyle Anderson (5.6). Yet the Wildcats had three other players in the Top 10 themselves, albeit lower than Adams and Anderson. We see the 3-game margin for the regular-season title as being key here, as Arizona was clearly the best team—but it was a loaded team with 4 players overall in the league’s Top 10. The two UCLA players held their own in fighting that dominant machine from Tucson.
We see Adams as the better player and choose him as our Pac-12 PoY winner, for the following stats in carrying his team to the Sweet 16: 17.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.6 spg, 2.3 apg, 30.1 mpg. That’s a healthy stat line for any PoY candidate.
2014 B1G PoY: Nik Stauskas, G, Michigan (original, confirmed)
The Michigan Wolverines won the regular-season title by three games over Michigan State and Wisconsin, but the finally healthy Spartans won the conference tournament readily with an 8-point win over the Badgers in the semifinals and a 14-point win over the Wolverines in the finals on back-to-back days. Alas, to complete this triumvirate mix, it was Wisconsin who made it to the Final Four when both Michigan and MSU lost in the Elite Eight. Go figure! Either way, these three teams are the tops here.
Wolverines G Nik Stauskas (6.2) earned the PoY vote win, despite finishing second in the conference for value behind Badgers center Frank Kaminsky. Third in value was Spartans G Gary Harris (5.3). It’s important to note here that Wisconsin placed four guys in the league’s Top 7 for Win Shares, so none of them had a lot of individual value in regards to this analysis. Stauskas and Harris were the only players from their respective rosters to finish in the conference Top 10.
Looking at the rosters, MSU had more talent—when healthy—as reflected in their dominant B1G tourney run, so Harris carried a big load while his various teammates were out with injuries. But Stauskas hauled the water for a lower-quality roster to a three-game edge in the regular season. We see that feat as more important, as without him, the Wolverines would have been an also-ran squad in the conference. We confirm the award vote for Stauskas, as Harris generally had more help overall from his teammates.