After week’s break, we have reached March Madness time in 2023—and for this Pac-12 Fridays miniseries on college basketball in the Conference of (real NCAA) Champions and its Midwest partners, the B1G, we have gone back to the 2004 season. None of the three Pac-10 teams in the NCAA Tournament reached the Sweet 16, including the No. 1-ranked team in the country, and as for the B1G, well … only one of its three tourney teams made it to the Sweet 16. Rough year!
2004 Pac-10 PoY: Josh Childress, F, Stanford (original, confirmed)
The Stanford Cardinal had a season for the ages, winning the regular-season conference title by 5 games, winning the conference tournament title, and finishing with a 29-1 record for the No. 1 ranking in the country. Forward Josh Childress was voted the PoY, and we will start with him: His 5.1 WS mark was third best in the conference, behind two players on teams that didn’t even finish above .500 in conference play. We will confirm Childress’ vote win.
Strangely, despite starting the season 26-0, the Cardinal lost in the second round to Alabama and didn’t even reach the Sweet 16. That was a very disappointing ending to a season that was so magical … until it wasn’t.
2004 B1G PoY: Devin Harris, G, Wisconsin (original); James Augustine, F, Illinois (revised)
Illinois won the regular-season title by 1 game over both Michigan State and Wisconsin, and it was the Badgers who won the tournament title with wins over both the Illini and the Spartans. Wisconsin guard Devin Harris (7.8 WS) won the PoY vote, but it’s a wide-open field to us for any player from those three teams; no other school finished within 3 games of the runners-up squads. And … Badgers F Michael Wilkinson was even better than Harris with 8.0 WS. So, what do we do?
It’s hard to fathom how having the top two players in the conference didn’t enable Wisconsin to win the double double. Illinois was led by F James Augustine (5.9), a familiar name here, and F Roger Powell (4.4). Michigan State was led by F Paul Davis (4.5) and G Chris Hill (4.1). No one should win this award with a WS mark less than 5.0, so we’re going with Augustine again—since the two Badgers cancel each other out, really, despite being so valuable. This is a weird situation.