With COVID-19 crushing everyone’s March Madness vibe, we at B5Q crafted our own tournament to determine which basketball player from the past 20 years was the biggest fan favorite.
With two rounds in the books, we now enter crunch time. It’s the Sweet 16 baby.
For the Sweet 16, we will be dropping two pairings from a singular region each day in separate articles. We at B5Q will state the case for each player, and it is up to you the fans to vote and ultimately decide who moves on, and who is eliminated.
First, we turn our attention to the Midwest Region. Just like the first two rounds, the voting window closes at midnight each day, so get those votes in quick.
You can check out the players still vying for the title in the complete bracket...Bucky’s Fan Favorite Tournament Bracket.pdf.
The second contest in the Midwest Region is a doozy between former teammates. No. 2 seed Sam Dekker and No. 3 seed Nigel Hayes duel for a ticket to the Elite 8.
The case for Sam Dekker:
The two seed, Sam Dekker was a springy 6-foot-9 forward who played a pivotal role all three seasons while at Wisconsin before leaving early for the NBA after helping lead the team to back-to-back Final Fours and a championship game berth.
Dekker was a beloved player at Wisconsin after a heralded high school career at Sheboygan Lutheran, in which he won the Gatorade Player of the Year Award and was named Mr. Basketball for the state of Wisconsin as a senior after winning the state title in heroic fashion.
Early in his UW career, he was a Freshman All-Big Ten performer before eventually becoming a two-time second team All-Big Ten player his final two seasons on campus. He played his best basketball late in his career, as he won the 2015 NCAA West Region’s Most Outstanding Player award as a junior in the NCAA Tournament.
During that tournament he had 23 points and 10 rebounds against North Carolina, and then scored 27 points against Arizona the following game.
For his career he averaged just over 12 points per game, five rebounds and 1.3 assists per game.
The case for Nigel Hayes:
One of the better forwards in program history, Nigel Hayes was a four year impact player for the Wisconsin Badgers.
Part of the back-to-back Final Four runs, Hayes was an integral part of the teams success from 2013 to 2017.
Hayes won the Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year award in 2014 as a freshman, before becoming a full-time starter for the following three seasons in Madison.
Hayes earned All-Conference honors each season on campus, averaging 12.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game in his career.
A smart and funny presence, Hayes contributed to collegiate athletics beyond the court as well. He was outspoken about issues surrounding the lives of athletes and racial justice during his time in Madison to boot.
(2) Sam Dekker or (3) Nigel Hayes?
This poll is closed
(2) Sam Dekker
(3) Nigel Hayes