This is the fourth match-up of a 16-person bracket looking at the best individual season performances of the last decade. The complete bracket is at the bottom of each match-up. Vote early and share. The more votes, the better.
5. Wesley Matthews (2008-2009) vs. 12. Lazar Hayward (2008-2009)
The case for Matthews: Of the Big Three, it always seemed as if Matthews was the last one mentioned his first three seasons at Marquette. Then his senior year happened. Whether it was the new system Buzz put in play, growth in Matthews’ game or a combination of both, Wes stepped out of the shadows and challenged Jerel McNeal for top dog status. He averaged 18.3 points and 5.7 rebounds and became a master at getting to the line (averaging 7.3 free throw attempts per game) leading the Big East in free throw attempts, makes, and percentage. He also led the team in Win Shares (the advanced metric that measures how many wins a player is responsible for) with 6.4, beating out McNeal by .5 shares.
The case for Hayward: Unfortunately for Hayward, this season will always be remembered for his inbound violation against Missouri in the NCAA Tournament. But that can’t take away from the junior’s stellar season. As the makeshift big man for Marquette, the 6-foot-4 Hayward averaged 8.6 rebounds, averaged 16.3 points as essentially the fourth option on offense, and poured in 26 points in the first round of the NCAA Tournament against Utah State to get Marquette to the infamous Missouri game. Hayward also gets point as the aforementioned fourth option behind the “Big Three.” Sure, it took some of the pressure off him, but he was called upon to play against some of the most talented power forwards night in and night out in the Big East, all the while playing four or five inches shorter.