This Pac-12 Friday miniseries on college basketball in the Conference of (real NCAA) Champions and its Midwest partners, the B1G, has reached back to the year of the “space odyssey”—so to speak. Both leagues placed a team in the Final Four, and the two powerhouses actually faced off in the semifinals, with Arizona beating Michigan State (the defending national champs). It was a great year here, with Illinois and Stanford being very good, too (see below).

2001 Pac-10 PoY: Sean Lampley, F, California (original); Jason Collins, C, Stanford (revised)

The Cardinal (No. 2) won the conference regular season by 1 game over the Wildcats (No. 5), with both teams finishing in the Associated Press Top 5. There was no conference tournament at the time, and California forward Sean Lampley (4.9 WS) won the PoY vote for the fourth-place Golden Bears. He won’t win our nod, since fourth place and that low of a value marker disqualify him. So, we have to search for our real candidates, and this is what we discovered.

Between them, the Cardinal and the Wildcats had 7 players in the league’s Top 10 for value; Lampley was seventh. Of the players above 5.0 WS, the top five were either Arizona or Stanford players. In this case, we just go with the top-valued guy—Cardinal center Jason Collins (7.5). He was more than 1 full WS higher than anyone else, regardless of teammate support. It’s hard to ignore that kind of dominance on a championship team. He was also a trail blazer; we salute him.

2001 B1G PoY: Frank Williams, G, Illinois (original); Brian Cook, F, Illinois (revised)

Illinois and Michigan State tied for the conference regular-season title, a full 3 games clear of the field. Somehow, Iowa won the league tourney, despite finishing under .500 in league play. Either way, Illini guard Frank Williams (4.1 WS) won the PoY vote. This was a terrible pick, as two Illinois teammates finished with higher valuation. The top two players in the conference were both Spartans—F Andre Hutson (6.5) and G Jason Richardson (6.3)—canceling each other out.

In fact, MSU had three of the top five players. Where does that leave us? With Illinois F Brian Cook (5.8) … again. He has the highest value here from a top team, without having a teammate as a fellow candidate for the hardware. He was miles better than his backcourt teammate, too, so the voters really effed this one up, didn’t they? Indeed. MSU was the better team as it won its fourth consecutive B1G title, but Cook gets to take home our trophy.