Everyone's excited to watch the Sweet 16, but keeping all of those pesky narratives and results straight is such a hassle. No one wants to read a wall of text summarizing every minute detail of each minute played last weekend, which is why I took all those scary-looking words and mashed them together into some neat GIFs! Once you finish perusing this quick refresher course, you'll be primed for optimal tournament viewing. All you have to do to is kick up your feet, grab a snack, and look at the pretty pictures.
Game one: No. 7 Wichita State vs. No. 3 Notre Dame – 6:15pm CT
Let's just get this out of the way right off the bat: WICHITA STATE, WE APPRECIATE YOU.
Why was that so necessary? Well, after pulling out a close 81-76 win over No. 10 Indiana, the Shockers found themselves staring down an old foe of Missouri's. If they wanted to reach another Sweet 16, they were going to have to go through the Jayhawks of Kansas. Luckily, this was the Round of 32, so a win was all but guaranteed. Thanks to a massive game from Fred VanVleet (17-6-6), Wichita St. proves unequivocally, once-and-for-all that they are the premiere basketball program in the state.
Doing battle against the Shockers will be No. 3 Notre Dame, who has already survived two close calls in this tournament. After nearly falling to No. 14 Northeastern in the opening round, the Irish were forced into overtime by the No. 6 Butler Bulldogs. Senior guard Pat Connaughton kept his team alive by ferociously blocking a game-winning shot attempt by Butler, then was rewarded by a clutch overtime performance from Jerian Grant.
This looks like a pretty even matchup, which means that there's only one way to settle it. By the ancient laws of battle. These two gangs shall meet in the town square and determine, good and all, who holds sway over the Five Points.
Game two: No. 1 Wisconsin vs. No. 4 North Carolina – 6:47pm CT
The Wisconsin Badgers, led by senior forward Frank Kaminsky, are in the Sweet 16 after dispatching the Ducks of Oregon in a rematch of last year's exciting Round of 32 game. In similar fashion, Wisconsin held off the Oregon offense and advanced. Head Coach Bo Ryan has built quite a strong team up there in dairyland, and if you want to try to take his crown, well, he's ready. Molten cheese can be used for more than fondue.
The Badgers will face the North Carolina Tar Heels, who finally advanced past the Round of 32. Never you mind that they've won a significant amount of NCAA Championships, what have they done for you lately? The answer is nothing. Absolutely nothing. Besides squandering talent and cheating in school, that is. Roy Williams and company were able to exorcise some of those demons this year, though, by besting a tough No. 13 Harvard squad and then surviving Mike Anderson and the No. 5 Arkansas Razorbacks' 40 Minutes of Hell.
Game three: No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 5 West Virginia – 8:45pm CT
Don't the Wildcats have some NBA Playoff games to start preparing for?
In all seriousness, Kentucky has managed to keep the dream of a perfect season alive by plastering No. 16 Hampton and wearing out No. 8 Cincinnati. They are a force, one not to be reckoned with. On the backs of multiple future-professionals, they are poised to continue their domination. Beware, all ye who stand in their path of destruction.
They are the Juggernaut.
The 28th team that will try to put a blemish on Kentucky's record is the Mountaineers of West Virginia. Bob Huggins' team made it this far by surviving a scare – and the dreaded 12-over-5 upset – from No. 12 Buffalo, then rebounding with a commanding 69-59 victory over No. 4 Maryland. Nice.
Can the 'Eers be the ones to finally put an end to Kentucky's reign of terror? Probably not, but bigger upsets have happened.
Game four: No. 6 Xavier vs. No. 2 Arizona – 9:17pm CT
Did you know that Xavier's Matt Stainbrook works as an Uber driver when he isn't playing basketball? You couldn't possibly have known that, it's too obscure of a fact. Well, let me be the first to tell you, then. Senior center Matt Stainbrook, when not grabbing boards and scoring points for Xavier, drives folks around in an Uber car. Crazy, right!? I'll bet you would've never guessed that. Anyway, he's driven his team right past No. 11 Ole Miss and No. 14 Georgia State. Just look at him go!
Unfortunately, his trip may be soon coming to an end. The Arizona Wildcats are talented as hell, and head coach Sean Miller has them trending upward. His masterful strategies were on full display, as his team put the clamps on No. 10 Ohio State's talented freshman and possible NBA lottery pick D'Angelo Russell. They did so after walloping No. 15 Texas Southern 93-72. Miller will likely have something up his team's sleeve that will put an end to Stainbrook's magical Uber ride.
And just like that, we've tidied up that big narrative jumble that happens when you leave all your story-lines heaped together for a week. It isn't really your fault, those things tangle up worse than a set of Nintendo 64 controllers.
And to you I exclaim, as these last words I write,
Merry Madness to all, and to all a good night!