Iowa may have stumbled in the Big 10 Tournament semifinals, but the NCAA Selection Committee still rewarded the Hawkeyes with one of the eight best overall seeds at March Madness.
The Hawkeyes (21-8) are the No. 2 seed in the West bracket and will face No. 15 seed Grand Canyon (17-6) in the first round. Tip is scheduled for 5:25 p.m. Saturday at Indiana Farmers Coliseum, home of the IUPUI Jaguars. TBS will carry the game.
Gonzaga is the region’s No. 1 seed and Iowa sportsbooks favor the Bulldogs to win the national championship. DraftKings puts Iowa as a 15-point favorites in their first round matchup vs. the Antelopes.
Grand Canyon is second nationally in opponent field goal percentage to counter Iowa’s efficient office. DraftKings set the total at 145 for the Iowa-Grand Canyon game.
Betting lines will change, so check back with PlayIA.com for March Madness updates:
Iowa Hawkeyes March Madness odds
Betting on No. 15 seeds outright almost never pays off at March Madness
Grand Canyon isn’t an ideal candidate for DraftKings Bet 4, Win $256 offer, but there are plenty of underdog candidates in the bracket. Here’s how it works: First-time users can get 64:1 odds and bet $4 to win $256 on underdogs starting for select NCAA Men’s Basketball Conference Tournament games and all games during the first two rounds of the tournament.
As NCAA.com tells us, just eight No. 15 seeds have upset 2 seeds in the NCAA tournament. The 15 seeds have an 8-132 all-time record against 2s. That’s a 5.71 win percentage.
Put another way, DraftKings users may want to go elsewhere to find their underdog — the Antelopes had a great season but may lack the firepower to keep up with the Hawks for an outright win.
Betting background on Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon is coached by March Madness legend Bryce Drew, who sank a 1998 NCAA buzzer-beater to lift Valparaiso over No. 10 Ole Miss in a first-round shocker.
Drew is taking Grand Canyon to its first-ever NCAA Tournament. The Lopes claimed the Western Athletic Conference Championship automatic berth with a 74-56 win over New Mexico State.
The Lopes feature 7-foot-tall center Asbjorn Midtgaard, who said:
“It’s such a good feeling because it was a team win. There was not one guy who had to carry the whole team. It was all of us. Just being able to celebrate this with the team and the first time for Grand Canyon and being part of that is incredible. It’s unbelievable.”
Midtgaard averages 14 points per game to lead the Antelopes. Fellow center Alessandro Lever follows with 13.3 ppg, giving Grand Canyon a formidable 1-2 punch down low. Of course: Iowa has a go-to option on the blocks as well.
Luka Garza earned Big Ten Player of the Year honors for the second consecutive year, and he will finish his career as Iowa’s all-time leading scorer. A deep NCAA Tournament run is one of the few things missing from his resumé:
“No matter who we play in the tournament, you know they’re going to play their heart out. And so it’s going to be a physical game no matter what. And that’s what I love.”
Betting background on the Iowa Hawkeyes
Iowa went 1-1 in the Big Ten Conference Tournament after receiving a double-bye as the conference’s No. 3 seed. They beat Wisconsin 62-57 on Friday but fell to No. 2 seed Illinois 82-71 on Saturday.
Two key players are still trying to get healthy in time for March Madness, according to coach Fran McCaffery. He told reporters:
“When we left Iowa City, I wasn’t even sure we were going to play Joe Wieskamp or CJ (Fredrick). Not because I didn’t want to win the Big Ten Tournament was because I wanted to do what was right for them. They both wanted to play, they both performed extremely well. I didn’t think CJ was right at the end. That’s why I took him out in those last seven minutes. He just didn’t look right to me.”
Saturday marked the first time all four semifinalists in a conference tournament were ranked in the Associated Press top 10. McCaffery thinks Iowa benefited from playing Wisconsin and Illinois in consecutive days:
“It really challenges your mental toughness. We didn’t get much sleep and we had to challenge our bench in both games. So I think ultimately it’s a great opportunity for our program to grow our players to grow in preparation for the NCAA Tournament. … I’m glad we approached it the way we did with everybody playing and now we’ll rest a little bit and get ready for Friday.”
Believe it or not, bracket — and odds — could still change
One year in, and COVID-19 still casts a shadow over the NCAA Tournament bracket. The 68 teams will undergo continual testing and teams can be replaced. Former NCAA Senior Vice President Greg Shaheen updated ESPN’s SportsCenter after Kansas and Virginia had to withdraw from their conference tournaments on Friday:
“It will be all about contact testing now. They will take the individual who tested positive and determine if any of the other team personnel have been around that individual for an appreciable amount of time. That would raise concern. And additionally, there will be continuous testing COVID testing over the next several days to determine if there are any other positives that could affect the team’s ability to be in the tournament.”
“The next time to watch will be Tuesday night at 6 p.m. (5 p.m. Central). That’s when the bracket officially locks. There is a 48 hour window between when the bracket is released and Tuesday at (5 p.m.) where, if any other teams cannot meet the protocol, they are able to withdraw and there is a protocol where replacement teams to be placed into the bracket.”