The Grand Canyon Antelopes will make their NCAA Tournament debut on Saturday night as the no. 15 seed in the West Region. They will face the no. 2 seeded Iowa Hawkeyes at Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:25 EST with the Hawkeyes favored by 14.5 points and the over/under listed at 145 points. Let’s take a closer look at both teams before making our Iowa vs Grand Canyon prediction.
The Hawkeyes earned a no. 2 seed after going 21-8 this season, including a 14-6 record inside the loaded Big Ten. At one point, Iowa lost four of five games, creating a little bit of concern. However, the Hawkeyes came out of that stretch, winning eight of their last 10 games to conclude the season.
Iowa averaged 83.8 points per game this season, good for ninth nationally, largely thanks to First-Team All-American Luka Garza. The junior proved to be an unstoppable force, scoring 23.7 points per game. Not only is Garza a polished post scorer, but he’s also capable of making shots from the perimeter or sharing the ball with his teammates. The Iowa offense revolves around him not because he can score inside but because he can hurt teams in different ways.
Of course, the Hawkeyes might be the most unselfish team in the country, leading the nation with 19.1 assists per game. Point guard Jordan Bohannon does a great job of scoring when opportunities present themselves while also getting the ball to Iowa’s shooters. As a team, the Hawkeyes shoot 38.6% from three-point range with Garza, Bohannon, Joe Wieskamp, and CJ Fredrick all being serious threats from the outside.
Less than a decade after making the jump to the Division I level, the Antelopes are in the NCAA Tournament after winning the WAC championship. Led by former Valparaiso and Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew, Grand Canyon went 17-6 this season to win the WAC regular-season and tournament titles, completing a meteoric rise after moving up from the Division II level.
The Antelopes are one of the rare teams led by not one but two centers. Seven-footer Asbjorn Midtgaard, a native of Denmark, and 6’10’’ Italian Alessandro Lever are Grand Canyon’s two leading scorers. Together, the pair averages 27.3 points and 15.3 rebounds per game with Mitgaard being a traditional post player and Lever having the skills to play away from the basket. In addition to their offensive prowess, Midtgaard and Lever should create an intriguing matchup for Garza in the post.
Of course, Grand Canyon is not without competent guard play. Sophomore Jovan Blacksher averages 11.9 points and 5.3 assists per game. He was phenomenal during the WAC Tournament and pulls the strings for the Antelopes offensively. Grand Canyon also has veteran role players like Mikey Dixon and Oscar Frayer, as well as a freshman in Chance McMillian, who could be an X-factor because of his ability to shoot from the perimeter.
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Iowa vs Grand Canyon Prediction
Despite a lopsided spread, this could end up being an interesting matchup. Grand Canyon has the size in the frontcourt to challenge Garza while also making him defend at the other end of the court. However, the biggest question for the Antelopes is whether they’ll have an answer for Iowa’s shooting prowess.
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