The first four days of the 2018 NCAA tournament were objectively the best in history. A No. 16 beat a No. 1, two more 1s lost in the second round and there were so many buzzer beaters that when a team didn't tie or win a game on its final shot Sunday, I felt cheated.
The law of the tournament, however, tells us something this good can't last and we are guaranteed disappointment this week. We rarely get two straight glorious days during the first weekend—never mind four—so we should be prepared for misery in the Sweet 16. The first two rounds were like that action-packed, twist-filled penultimate episode of a Game of Thrones season, which means the Thursday-Friday slate will be that tedious season finale you will instantly scrub from your memory.
With that in mind, here are five predictions for the upcoming horror in the Sweet 16.
2. Duke vs. 11. Syracuse
Usually, I'd write, "Duke wins" and be done with this section, because that's all the horror one needs. But Syracuse is a safety school for lacrosse bros not good enough to be recruited by Duke, so half the country will be pissed off no matter the outcome. This game's mere existence is enough to hamstring the tournament's third round, but it will find a way to exceed expectations.
Here's the scene: there's five seconds to go in quintuple overtime. It's 38-38. There's a delay as EMTs stabilize a Syracuse player who was powerbombed mid-free throw by Grayson Allen, who somehow only has two fouls and isn't ejected for the powerbombing. Duke inbounds the ball to Allen, who drains the winning three-pointer as time expires and punches the Syracuse mascot unconscious.
Coach K addresses the Allen situation with a sideline reporter by saying he'd punish Allen for his cheap play. "No ice cream for him after the game," Coach K says proudly. "But he will play our next game."
9. Kansas State vs. 5. Kentucky
Kentucky coach John Calipari spends the entire game with a lit cigar in his mouth as he writes checks to America's top high school seniors behind his bench. "That's just great coaching and great recruiting," crows Jim Nantz on live television. Calipari berates a freshman walk-on that hasn't played a single minute all season for not applying his bronzer with the proper layering.
K-State takes a 10-point lead into halftime, moving us 20 minutes closer to a guaranteed Cinderella Final Four team coming from the South region. But coming out of the locker room for the second half, officials are all wearing $5,000 pinstripe suits that look similar to the one Calipari is wearing. Kentucky attempts 74 free throws in the second half to K-State’s zero.
Kentucky wins by 50.
2. Purdue vs. 3. Texas Tech
Matt Haarms, the Purdue big man with the beautiful feathered hair that can't stay out of his face is not only a national sensation by tipoff Friday, but also a meme. Half the people in the Boston crowd are wearing Haarms wigs that have hair strategically placed in front of their faces, and they are always moving the hair away from their faces. This is a result of "Haarmsing," the meme in which people post videos of themselves moving hair away from their face.
CBS shows endless shots of people doing this throughout the game, which turns the nation against Purdue and Haarms, who is made so uncomfortable by this that he shaves his head at halftime and looks like Don Mattingly from that episode of The Simpsons. Purdue loses but the meme only grows stronger, as Purdue fans also shave their heads to look like Haarms.
3. Michigan vs. 7. Texas A&M
On Wednesday, football coach Jim Harbaugh threatens to quit. Looking to appease the man that has yet to beat Ohio State and lost to Rutgers once, the basketball team decides to ditch shorts and wear beige khakis against A&M. The uniform switch doesn't cause any problems, and Michigan takes a 35-31 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Still unhappy, though, Harbaugh asks for one more switch—replace the Gatorade on the Michigan sideline with whole milk. The team again obliges, only this time it backfires, as every Michigan player on the court with 11:15 to play collapses and vomits. The cleanup takes 45 minutes and a decimated Michigan team loses by 14.
Despite the outcome, the university gives Harbaugh a raise and extends his contract for another eight years.
11. Loyola (Chicago) vs. 7. Nevada
Sister Jean, the lovable team chaplain of Loyola, gets Milkshake Duck'd and has her dark past revealed right before tipoff. A story in the New York Times reports the 98-year-old was born Dolores O'Reilly and has been hiding from authorities since 1938. "Boom Boom" O'Reilly spent two years as a Chicago bootlegger supplying whisky for Frank Nitti's underground clubs because, as she said, "Fellas and dames need their booze!" But when police were closing in on Nitti, she rolled her car into Lake Michigan to fake her death and avoid the clink.
Not long after, she found God and dedicated her life to goodness and college basketball.
But still, the feds storm Philips Arena before the game. Sister Jean is nowhere to be found. They discover a note in an empty wheelchair, "You coppers will never take me alive, see?!" and a video of her boarding a flight to a non-extradition country that ends with her saying, "Go Ramblers!"
With the nation even more in love with her and the team, Nevada wins by 80. Donald Trump has her extradited back to America the following day.