The 2010 Final Four is set. Michigan State, Butler, West Virginia, and Duke will battle it out this weekend to determine the national championship. But who will be named Most Outstanding Player? Who will hit a game-winning shot? Who will have a record-breaking performance? Every player who takes the floor in Indianapolis on Saturday and Monday has the chance to join the following 10 men as having one of the greatest Final Four individual game performances of the last quarter-century. So join us as we take a trip down memory lane and pay tribute to each of the collegiate legend’s games of a lifetime.
10. Shane Battier, Duke vs. Arizona (2001 Final)
Shane Battier scored 18 points, including two crucial baskets down the stretch, to lead Duke past Arizona by a score of 82-72 in the ’01 championship game. Battier was the only Blue Devil to play all 40 minutes and yet he didn’t commit a single turnover, while recording six assists, 11 rebounds, and two blocks. He shot 7-of-14 from the field.
9. Ty Lawson, North Carolina vs. Michigan State (2009 Final)
Wayne Ellington may have won the Most Outstanding Player award for the ’09 Final Four, but teammate Ty Lawson’s performance in the championship game was one for the record books. The guard set all-time Final Four bests with 18 free throw attempts (he made 15) and eight steals, which is also the most ever in any NCAA tournament game.
So while Lawson was only 3-of-10 from the field, he still managed to score 21 points, drop six dimes, and pull down four boards to help UNC smother Michigan State, 89-72.
8. Mark Wade, UNLV vs. Indiana (1987 Semifinal)
Not only are three of our top 10 performances from the same year, but two of them come from teammates in the same game. In the ’87 national semifinal between UNLV and Indiana, the Rebels’ Mark Wade set a Final Four record with 18 assists. He was only 1-of-6 from the field with just four points, but his record-breaking performance earns him a spot on this list.
7. Freddie Banks, UNLV vs. Indiana (1987 Semifinal)
And many of those assists went to Freddie Banks, who set a Final Four record with 10 three-pointers. The Hoosiers won the game, 97-93, but Banks finished with 38 points on 12-of-23 shooting, while adding eight rebounds and an assist.
6. Mateen Cleaves, Michigan State vs. Florida (2000 Final)
After the Gators quickly cut the Spartans’ 11-point halftime lead down to six, Mateen Cleaves sprained his ankle less than four minutes into the second half of the ’00 championship contest. The senior came back only four minutes later, and instantly helped spark a 16-6 run to ice the game. Cleaves finished with 18 points, four assists, and two rebounds. He shot 7-of-11 from the field, including 3-of-4 from long distance, en route to garnering Most Outstanding Player honors.
Check back in with The Campus Socialite on Sunday as four are cut down to two and we offer up the five best individual performances in recent Final Four history.