INDIANAPOLIS – You may not know the Grand Canyon men’s basketball team from a hole in the ground

So you’d be surprised to see the Antelopes in their NCAA tournament play in the first round against Iowa on Saturday. Not many No 15 seeds in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament ever look like this

This year’s other 15 seeds – Cleveland State, Iona, and Oral Roberts – don’t have a 7-foot, 270-pound center and a 6-10, 235-pound striker as prominent players Cleveland State’s premier rebounder is 6-5

The two top scorers of GCU Antelopes of Phoenix, however, are 7-foot Asbjorn Midtgaard and 6-10 Alessandro Lever, both were selections from the All-Western Athletic Conference of the first team

Of course, the question goes into the NCAA first round game against No. 2-Seed Iowa at their 5:25 pm competition at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum is far more about what they can do against the Hawkeyes than the other way around >
Even so, Midtgaard and Lever are capable seniors who have done a lot to bring WAC Champion Lopes a 17-6 record and enter this tournament for the first time

This is the Hawkeyes’ first obstacle for their first NCAA deep run of the 21st century Century The winner of the Saturday game will advance to a second round competition against Oregon or VCU on Monday

Midtgaard is from Holsinger, Denmark. Hebel is from Bolsano, Italy. You have played college ball for four years. Lever started and ended at GCU. Midtgaard was off the bench for most of his three seasons in Wichita state and moved to Grand Canyon and took on the role of an imposing tall man

“Asbjorn” is Danish for “God of Bears” Midtgaard averaging 140 points and 99 rebounds His shots are usually from a radius of 5 feet He leads the nation in field accuracy with 706 percent

Lever plays with a view of the basket He routinely shoots 3-pointers and has made over 39 percent of it. He averages 133 points

Luka Garza is Iowa’s 6-11, 265-pound first-team All-America center He averages 237 points and 88 rebounds and has made 37 3-pointers to Midtgaard’s zero

“Obviously he is a candidate for Player of the Year for a reason,” said Midtgaard. “We have to focus on this. He’s an amazing player and I’m excited it’s going to be a fun matchup”

Garza has faced a who’s who of good big players this season, from Drew Timme from Gonzaga to Kofi Cockburn from Illinois, Hunter Dickinson from Michigan, Trevion Williams from Purdue and Trayce Jackson-Davis from Indiana

That means you take every 7-footer seriously if they do double-doubles on average and do 70 percent of their shots

“(Midtgaard) is really good by the way,” said Iowa trainer Fran McCaffery. “And they have more than one. They have a big team

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“But we see pretty well that every night in our league every team has such a big man So we are used to how we try to build Luka and how we try to run our offense effectively ”

Garza said he thinks Midtgaard is “a really, really good Big, and he makes good use of his size. He’s really efficient off the field

“I’ve been playing this size for four years now. Obviously there are a lot of people in the Big Ten who are big and really good, so I’m definitely used to playing guys this size at this point”

Bryce Drew is a household name for basketball in Indiana in his first season at the Grand Canyon after coaching Valparaiso and Vanderbilt on NCAA tournament grounds. His last shot in 1998 brought Valparaiso an NCAA first-round win over Mississippi

“We have great respect for the Grand Canyon, its staff and the work Bryce has done,” said McCaffery

“We’re 15 seeds, they’re 2 seeds,” Drew said. “In history, 8-132 is that record (for 15 seeds versus 2) So the percentages aren’t going to make you win this game, but it was done ”

Iowa men’s basketball has an NCAA tournament mission this week: Run off the Antelopes

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