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No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn: Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Villanova Wildcats

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Two flights, one lay over and the scariest turbulence I've ever been a part of all in hopes of seeing Iowa maybe get to the Sweet 16.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

I'm quite delusional right now. And I mean that both literally and figuratively. I'm on about five hours of total sleep and running on nothing more than a Dr. Pepper and the leftover adrenaline my body produced after Adam "Woodrow" Woodbury tipped in what should've been nothing more than a sucker punch airball.

But here I am writing this on a Saturday afternoon in dreary Washington D.C., taking off on my second flight of the day with bloodshot eyes, a stiff back and an ever increasing head cold. I look like such a mess that I can't help but notice the looks coming my way from Ceasar the flight attendant. It's as if he's debating in his head if I'm just sick or five minutes away from entering that Walking Dead half living/half zombie trance.

I'd be looking at me too.

But as we started to rise off the ground and my nerves began to compound, I started to think about how and why I got on this tiny plane  -- one of those puddle jumpers that guys like me have to shuffle sideways up and down the isle to make sure we don't Office Linebacker somebody towing their carry on's.

And how I ended up sitting way too close to a woman who can't keep still (equipped with a McDonald's bag reeking under her seat) on a 29-minute flight via Trans State Airlines (aka United Express) with service to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


It all started just twelve hours ago, when I was tucked quietly in my apartment, writing "Thank You" notes with my fiancé and watching Northern Iowa and SF Austin shock the world. I even remember briefly wondering how I would start my preview about today's game and being stuck.

And then I got the call.

But first a little background. I am extremely tight with my fiancé's four cousins who live, breath, eat and sleep Villanova basketball. For the past five years I've never heard the end of their teams successes and my teams failures. How much better their talent pool is. How us Iowa kids just can't hang.

Since selection Sunday, we've talked about how fun it would be -- if both teams advanced -- to go to Brooklyn together and watch them duke it out in person. It was a pipe dream, with what seemed like a lot of variables -- What if Woody didn't tip that shot in? What if the officials called that slight push in the back? What if Nova had a repeat of the Big East Championship game? -- but a fun pipe dream nonetheless..

Plus, there was no way logistically -- with them, fresh off of their Big East Tournament weekend in New York, scattered around Philadelphia and me in Orlando -- that it was going to work.

So imagine my surprise when I got a phone call from them at midnight to tell me to get my butt on a plane after they spent the last four hours working their parents like Leonardo DiCaprio playing Jordan Belfort in Wolf of Wall Street in hopes of landing someone's (anyone's) permission to make it happen.

How could I turn it down after they made the impossible a reality? How could I let the fact that end of year grade goals were wagered just to get a "yes" from their parents?

So... NO SLEEP 'TIL BROOKLYN.

A little after the clock flipped from Friday night into Saturday morning, I decided to book these chaotic flights and jump all in.

I would love to say that my confidence in Iowa continuing on that "2015 Michigan State" path I wrote about the other day had something to do with this. I would also love to say that I'm predicting the upset. But with Villanova's ability to efficiently shoot inside the arch and their stifling, turnover inducing defense, I'm a little shaken.

Hell, I'm over here ducking $20 wagers like its my job. And that's with them offering six and seven point fake spreads as a tool to gauge my quivering confidence.

Like I keep telling them, I don't know if Iowa will win. I think they will compete and give what I hope to be a pretty solid crowd from our traveling mafia that always seems to shock other fan bases a pretty good game to watch.

But at the end of the day, why I decided to take four total plane rides and spend a healthy chunk of change, is quite simple. I really just wanted to spend time with those four little buggers in their Kitty Cat gear. I wanted to spend that time traveling to and from Brooklyn to watch their favorite college basketball team play mine in an NCAA Tournament game. I wanted to create one HUGE moment I could hang onto long after they graduate high school and college and start their own, busy lives.

And the honest truth is, I'm more excited about that two hour car ride full of crap talking and testosterone that the end result is almost worthless.

Almost.

You see, at the end of the day, isn't that what sports are for? Isn't that why we continue watching no matter the amount of pain, just so we can keep these deep rooted sports relationships fresh? Isn't that why we take to Twitter and text threads when big things happen? Don't we always want to feel that sports connection? To keep those talks and relationships alive?

YES!

What could be better than taking one of those group texts and making them real life conversations, even if it's six on one?

Nothing.

Now, of course, with all of that said, I won't lie to you. I know deep in my heart of hearts, that there is no amount of money you can put on watching their little faces melt away in pure devastation when Jarrod Uthoff nails a fall away jumper over Ryan Arcidiacono as time expires to go to the Sweet 16.

But I promise, that will just be the cherry on top of our "NO SLEEP 'TIL BROOKLYN" weekend.