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Grand Canyon Antelopes vs. Iowa Hawkeyes Betting Preview

After a busy day and a half of basketball, the first round of the NCAA tournament continues Saturday evening in the West region as the No. 15 seeded Grand Canyon Antelopes (17-6) take on the No. 2 seeded Iowa Hawkeyes (21-8). The two will square off at Indiana Farmers Coliseum, with tipoff scheduled for 6:25 pm ET.

Grand Canyon dominated the Western Athletic Conference tournament, winning the championship, 74-56, over New Mexico State. In the win, Jovan Blacksher led the Antelopes with 19 points and seven rebounds. After seeing one Big Ten number two seed get upset on Friday (Ohio State), the Antelopes are hoping they can do the same on Saturday.

While Iowa finished third in a loaded Big Ten conference during the regular season, many would argue that they were a bit of a disappointment this season. Still, with a potent offense led by Big Ten Player of the Year Luka Garza, the Hawkeyes are the type of team that could make a deep run in the tournament. They hope that the run will start on Saturday.

Iowa is the overwhelming favorite in this one. They are -1400 to win, while Grand Canyon’s moneyline sits at +830. The spread features the Antelopes +14.5, and the over/under for total points is 145.

By The Numbers

Offensively, the Hawkeyes were one of the strongest teams in the nation. They rank 4th in scoring averaging 83.8 points per game, although they have averaged just 70 over their last three games. Grand Canyon ranks 156th, averaging 71.2 points.

Defensively, it is Grand Canyon with the better stats. They rank 9th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing opponents just 61.6 points per game (55.7 over their last three). Iowa falls to 205th, allowing 71.9.

Grand Canyon Hopes To Become Cinderella Story

As the fifteen seed in the West, the Antelopes know they are not expected to win. They are hoping that their stout defense can help to put some doubt in Iowa’s mind and will shoot to pull off the Cinderella story-type upset.

Leading the way for the Antelopes this season is senior center Asbjorn Midtgaard. On the season, he is almost averaging a double-double with 14 points and 9.9 rebounds.

Midtgaard isn’t the only big man, though. At 6’10”, Alessandro Lever is the Antelopes’ second-leading scorer. He is averaging 13.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game.

Grand Canyon has one other double-digit scorer in Jovan Blacksher Jr. He is averaging 11.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.6 steals per game.

Iowa Looking To Get Tournament Started Off On Right Foot

It has been a bit of an inconsistent season for the Hawkeyes this year. While their 21-8 overall record was respectable, the Hawkeyes were expected to be more of a player in the Big Ten conversation. Still, they have won eight of their last ten games and will look to set the tone for their tournament with a win over Grand Canyon.

Leading the way for the Hawkeyes is the back-to-back Big Ten Player of the Year in Luka Garza. The big man led the team in points (23.7), rebounds (8.8), and blocks (1.7). He shot 54.7% from the field and also chipped in 1.8 assists per game.

Iowa had two other average double digits in Joe Wieskamp and Jordan Bohannon. Wieskamp averaged 14.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game. Bohannon added 10.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 4.5 assists.

Taking Iowa Despite Massive Spread

Grand Canyon played a remarkable season winning the WAC; however, there is a big difference between their conference and the Big Ten. Despite how well it appears their defense is, Iowa will be by far the best offense they have seen this year, and I just don’t think they have the firepower to keep up. It is a big spread, but I am taking Iowa to cover it.

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