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No. 2 Iowa vs. No. 15 Grand Canyon preview, picks for first round of 2021 NCAA Tournament

The Iowa Hawkeyes and Grand Canyon Antelopes meet at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. We’ve got everything you need on both teams ahead of the game here.

Can Iowa cover in the first round?

Update March 19: Here are the updated bet splits for No. 2 Iowa vs. No. 15 Grand Canyon as of March 19th at 10:30 a.m. from DraftKings Sportsbook:

Iowa -14.5: 55% of handle, 64% of bets
Grand Canyon +14.5: 45% of handle, 36% of bets

Over 144.5: 93% of handle, 61% of bets
Under 144.5: 7% of handle, 39% of bets

Update March 18: Here are the updated bet splits for Iowa vs. Grand Canyon as of March 18th at 11:00 a.m. from DraftKings Sportsbook:

Iowa -15: 51% of handle, 65% of bets
Grand Canyon +15: 49% of handle, 35% of bets
Over 144.5: 96% of handle, 59% of bets
Under 144.5: 4% of handle, 41% of bets

The first round of the NCAA Tournament gets underway this weekend and as always, there are some big underdogs looking to take down a few of the nation’s elite in the early days of March Madness. That’s what the Grand Canyon University Antelopes will try to do Saturday night on TBS against the Iowa Hawkeyes.

No. 2 Iowa: 21-8 (14-6 B1G): At-large

KenPom rating: 5 Overall, 2 Offense, 50 Defense
NET ranking: 6, (8-6 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Luka Garza
Key stat: Garza leads Iowa in minutes played, blocks, points and boards.

The Iowa Hawkeyes are a fast and exciting team that doesn’t tend to play in many low-scoring games. Luka Garza came into this season regarded as the best player in college basketball, and he’s proved why by dominating in the extremely deep and talented Big Ten all season. He is leading the country in scoring with 24.7 points per game and averages 8.5 rebounds per contest, fourth in the Big Ten.

Look for the Hawkeyes to not only score, but not turn the ball over: They only give it away on 13.4% of their possessions, which is the best rate in Division I.

No. 15 Grand Canyon: 17-6 (9-3 WAC): AUTO-BID

KenPom rating: 108 Overall, 142 Offense, 74 Defense
NET ranking: 107 (0-1 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Asbjorn Midtgaard
Key stat: This is GCU’s first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament.

The Grand Canyon Antelopes defeated New Mexico State 76-54 in the WAC Tournament title game, securing their spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Antelopes will be making their first-ever appearance in the tournament after just joining Division I just eight seasons ago. They finished the regular season with a record 17-6, which was tops in their conference. Under the direction of first-year head coach Bryce Drew, Grand Canyon is averaging 75.6 points per game and 16.1 assists per game (30th in the country).

Two players that do the heavy lifting for the Antelopes are senior center Asbjorn Midtgaard and sophomore guard Jovan Blackshear Jr. Midtgaard leads the team in scoring with 14.0 points and rebounding with 9.9 per game. He’s also one of the best in the NCAA when it comes to field goal percentage at 70.6. Meanwhile, Blackshear Jr. is averaging 11.9 points, 5.3 assists (team-high), and 3.7 rebounds per game.

March Madness Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: Iowa -14.5
Total: 146
Moneyline: Iowa -1430, Grand Canyon +850

The Pick

Against The Spread Pick: GCU +14.5
Point total pick: Over 146
Pick to Win: Iowa

Iowa doesn’t play a whole lot of defense regardless of who they line up against, and Grand Canyon is known to do a pretty decent job scoring. The over is the play for the same reasoning, both teams should score a lot.

The Hawkeyes are going to win this one with relative ease though, they’re by far the more talented team.