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Iowa's Easy, Totally Scientific Path to the Final Four

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Using math and other advanced statistics to break down the Hawkeyes' road to Indianapolis.

"Then why the hell do I even have to play the games?!"
"Then why the hell do I even have to play the games?!"
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Jones is dead! Long live Mike Jones!

...or not, but I'm here to tell you about Iowa's chances to make the Final Four since he's off having a real job or taking ass pics or something.

Now, I've been told that this article series is supposed to be "How Iowa will make the Final Four." Well, as someone that stands to benefit from ALL THE SCHADENFREUDE if and when the Hawkeyes lose, I'm not here to tell you that. However, Graham says I have to, so I'm handling basketball the only way I know how to deal with sports teams like Davidson that I will absolutely never care about...

Transitive property.

For each potential game in Iowa's road to the Final Four, I've broken down why Iowa will or won't win that game, along with a verdict for each based on the shortest [*] path to victory.

*"that I could find or cared to find." Your mileage may vary. Let's look at the bracket:

Round 1: #10 Davidson

Why Iowa will win: Iowa > North Carolina > Davidson. Easy.

Why Iowa will lose: Davidson > Charlotte > Penn State > Iowa. Just as easy.

The Verdict:

2 steps beats 3 steps. Iowa, barely.

Round 2a: #15 North Dakota State

Why Iowa will win: Iowa > North Dakota State, if you believe in precedent and all that shit.

Why North Dakota State will win: NDSU > Akron > Central Michigan > Northwestern > Iowa. Let's take a moment to notice how easy that was. Four steps to a 15? Clearly Iowa's barely deserving of a 10 seed, let alone a 7.

The Verdict:

1 step beats 4 steps, I guess. Iowa.

Round 2b: #2 Gonzaga

Why Iowa will win: Iowa > Pepperdine > BYU > Gonzaga. ...actually kinda easy.

Why Gonzaga will win: Gonzaga > Texas Southern > Michigan State > Iowa. "One of these things is not like the others..."

The Verdict:

3 steps for both, so we go to margin of victory.

Iowa: 11 + 6 + 3 = 20

Gonzaga: 40 + ...you know, just shut it down here. (It's 61, if you were wondering.)

Gonzaga. Sorry, Hawkeye bros.

Now, technically I refuse to write one more goddamn word, but Graham says I'm being paid by the character, and much like fellow Northwestern grad Darren Rovell, I'm nothing if not a cheap shill. So on we go!

Round 3a: #14 Alabama-Birmingham

Why Iowa will win: Iowa > North Carolina > UAB

Why UAB will win: UAB > Charlotte > Penn State > Iowa

The Verdict:

2 steps beats 3 steps, sadly. Iowa.

Round 3b: #11 UCLA

A NOTE TO THE BASKETBALL GODS: PLEASE LET THIS HAPPEN BECAUSE I WANT TO SEE EVERY HEAD IN IOWA EXPLODE AND ALSO DOUG GOTTLIEB.

Why Iowa will win: Iowa > North Carolina > UCLA. That one good win is basically getting you through this exercise, Hawkeyes.

Why UCLA will win: UCLA > Stanford > Texas > Iowa.

The Verdict:

2 steps beats 3 steps. Fuck you, UNC. Iowa. Rest easy, Hawkeye fans. Or don't:

ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD ALFORD

Round 3c: #6 SMU

Why Iowa will win: Iowa > Indiana > SMU.

Why SMU will win: SMU > Texas Southern > Michigan State > Iowa.

The Verdict:

2 steps beats 3 steps. Dammit. Iowa.

Round 3d: #3 Iowa State

Why Iowa will win: Iowa > Maryland > Iowa State. That's a tough one to beat, Cyclones...

Why Iowa State will win: AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA /deepbreath AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

The Verdict:

1 step beats 2 steps.

Iowa S—wait, what?

WRITE THE NEXT GODDAMN TEAM

No, Fran, I really don't think you'll beat Iowa State if you make it that fa—

WRITE THE NEXT GODDAMN TEAM

Seriously, Fran, I have other things to do and I don't know what good that'll—

WRITE THE NEXT GODDAMN TEAM SO HELP ME GOD

No. You lost to Northwestern. Even once. I won't.

FINE GODDAMN BUT YOU MADE ME DO IT

What the hell are you—

GODDAMNIT FUCKING MASKS AND THEIR EYE HOLES FINE FRAN IOWA

Round 4a: #16 North Florida/#16 Robert Morris

Why Iowa will win: Iowa > North Florida. As a matter of fact, it's partially North Florida's fucking fault that Fran turned this team around. Get fucked, Ospreys.

Why Iowa will win: Robert Morris is basically Phillip Morris, and I DON'T SUPPORT CANCER STICKS.

Why North Florida/Robert Morris will win: Two teams are better than one. Duh.

The Verdict:

Iowa, I guess.

Round 4b: #13 Eastern Washington

Why Iowa will win: Iowa > Hampton > Northern Arizona > Eastern Washington

Why Eastern Washington will win: EWU > Texas Southern > Michigan State > Iowa

The Verdict:

We have a tie! To margins of victory!

Iowa: 34 + 9 + 4 = 47

EWU: 24 + 7 + 14 = 45

You got lucky, Iowa.

Round 4c: #12 Stephen F. Austin

Why Iowa will win: Iowa > Illinois > Baylor > Stephen F. Austin

Why Stephen F. Austin will win: SFA > North Texas > Charlotte > PSU > Iowa

The Verdict:

They're everyone's Cinderella candidate, but obviously the Lumberjacks can't hold a candle to the Hawkeyes. 3 steps beats 4 steps. Iowa.

Round 4d: #9 St. John's

Why Iowa will win: Iowa > Indiana > Butler > St. John's

Why St. John's will win: SJU > Syracuse > Iowa OR SJU > Minnesota > Iowa

The Verdict:

2 steps beats 3 steps no matter how you slice it. St. John's. Better hope the Red Storm don't make landfall, Hawkeyes.

Round 4e: #8 San Diego State

Why Iowa will win: Iowa > Pepperdine > Fresno State > SDSU

Why SDSU will win: SDSU > Pitt > Syracuse > Iowa

The Verdict:

Another tie! Iowa, struggling with the 8- and 9-lines...

Iowa: 11 + 15 + 2 = 28

SDSU: 17 + 6 + 3 = 26

Another 2-point transitive victory for the Hawkeyes. Iowa, narrowly.

Round 4f: #5 Utah

Why Iowa will win: Iowa > Michigan > Oregon > Utah

Why Utah will win: Utah > Wichita State > Northern Iowa > Iowa. How's that for a transitive pedigree of wins?

The Verdict:

Ties left and right. Man, what intrigue if Iowa makes it to the Elite Eight, huh?!

Iowa: 18 + 7 + 11 = 36

Utah: 1 + 14 + 12 = 27

A 9-point victory in the transitive-off gives Iowa the edge in a 5-7 Elite Eight showdown.

Round 4g: #4 Georgetown

Irrelevant. Never bet on Georgetown.

Round 4h: #1 Duke

...or are they?

Good work, ESPN.

Anyways, finally! The one we all care about, fraught with B1G-ACC Challenge intrigue. To the tape!

Why Iowa will win: Iowa > UNC > NC State > Duke

Why Duke will win: Duke > Syracuse > Iowa

The Verdict: 2 steps beats 3 steps. Maybe you're just not cut out to beat Duke, Iowa.

Been following along? NO?! Go back and read it again. Every goddamn word.

...you won't do that, either? Fine. I'll sum it up for you.

QED, Iowa's Road to the Dance:

Round 2: def. Davidson

Round 3: def. North Dakota State OR

def. Gonzaga if for some reason the transitive property fails WHICH IT WON'T

Sweet 16: def. UAB OR

def. UCLA OR

def. SMU OR

hope Fran sets Woodbury out to eye-gouge Hoiberg

Elite 8: def. North Morris/Robert Florida OR

def. Eastern Washington OR

def. Stephen F. Austin OR

def. San Diego State OR

def. Utah OR

lol Georgetown OR

hope that neither St. John's nor Duke can find the stadium on the day of the game. I see no other way.

And there you have it. With victories over Davidson, North Dakota State, SMU, and Stephen F. Austin, expect to see Fran McCaffery kicking down the nets in Houston on March 29.