March Madness is in real time for 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 look back at the 2003 season. The two leagues placed 10 teams in the NCAA Tournament, and one team from each reached the Elite Eight—although no schools made it to the Final Four. Also, the Arizona Wildcats were ranked No. 1 for most of the year before finishing No. 2 in the last AP poll.

2003 Pac-10 PoY: Luke Ridnour, G, Oregon (original); Ike Diogu, F, Arizona State (revised)

The Wildcats won the regular-season title by 3 games over the nearest competitor, but the Oregon Ducks, who finished a whopping 7 games out of first place, won the conference tournament. Ducks guard Luke Ridnour (5.0 Win Shares) won the PoY vote, so let’s see who the other candidates are … there’s Arizona State forward Ike Diogu (6.6) and Arizona center Channing Frye (5.9). The Sun Devils finished one game ahead of Oregon in the conference standings.

Both the Wildcats and the Ducks had two players each in the league’s Top 8 players based on value, so Diogu stands out as being a very dominant player without a supporting cast. He did get his team to the NCAA Tournament as well. Meanwhile, Ridnour and Frye had help from stronger supporting casts in achieving what they did. Since Diogu’s WS mark was tops in the league, we’re going to go with him for PoY. We took it away from him in 2005, so this evens out.

2003 B1G PoY: Brian Cook, F, Illinois (original, confirmed)

The Wisconsin Badgers won the regular season by 1 game over the Illinois Fightin’ Illini and 2 games over Michigan, Michigan State, and Purdue. Illinois won the conference tourney, and Illini F Brian Cook (5.6 WS) won the PoY vote. But Wisconsin G Devin Harris (6.1) and MSU G Chris Hill (5.2) are also legit candidates. Which of these three players will get our nod? Well, it depends, as usual, on their respective supporting casts.

The Badgers had four players in the Top 6 for value, so Harris is out this time. The Spartans had one other player in the Top 10, while Illinois had no one but Cook in the top echelon of player value. So, we confirm Cook’s vote win for this award, even though it was Michigan State that ended up going the deepest in the Big Dance.