Iowa vs. Utah Prediction, Odds and Key Players for NIT Second Round

Mar 14, 2024; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes forward Payton Sandfort (20) shoots over Ohio State defender Zed Key (23).
Mar 14, 2024; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes forward Payton Sandfort (20) shoots over Ohio State defender Zed Key (23). / Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The second round of the NIT tournament brings us a matchup between the Big Ten and PAC-12 when Iowa and Utah meet on Sunday in Salt Lake City. Iowa opened their campaign with a victory over Kansas State 91-82 while Utah took care of UC Irvine 84-75 in their matchup.

Both teams are unranked and have been all season long with neither cracking the AP top 25 poll. Iowa was one and done in the Big Ten tournament while Utah was unable to gain any traction in the PAC-12 this year. Both teams also had a total combined record of 20-20 in their conference games. Let’s dive into it and I’ll break down the best bet for this Sunday’s showdown.

Iowa vs. Utah Odds, Spread and Total

Iowa vs. Utah Betting Trends

  • Utah is 10-5 ATS as home favorites this season
  • The OVER is 5-1 in Iowa’s last six games
  • Iowa is 5-6-1 ATS in games with equal rest
  • Utah is 9-13 ATS since beginning of 2024
  • The OVER is 6-3 in Utah’s last nine games

Iowa vs. Utah: How To Watch

  • Date: Sunday, March 24th
  • Game Time: 9:00 PM EST
  • Venue: John M. Huntsman Center, Salt Lake City, UT
  • How To Watch (TV, Streaming): ESPN2, ESPN+
  • Iowa Record: 19-14
  • Utah Record: 20-14

Iowa vs. Utah Key Players To Watch


Payton Sandfort: A player who’s been at the center of the Hawkeyes success for a long time is having another consistent year in Iowa. He’s playing his best basketball in the month of March, averaging 24.2 points per game in his last five and a pair of double doubles in the process. Sandfort loves to shoot the three ball and can create shot opportunities with his speed and athleticism.


Branden Carlson: The Utes senior center got off to a fantastic start against UC Irvine in the opening round last week with a 21-point, 11 rebound performance, his sixth double double of the season. Carlson leads Utah both in points (17.2) and rebounds (6.9), establishing himself as the leader on this offense. Iowa will have a troubling time against the versatile 7-footer who is athletic and hunts for shot opportunities inside the paint.

Iowa vs. Utah Prediction and Pick

This is an interesting matchup between two relatively even programs this season. Both had potential to succeed in their conferences, but never truly took off. Utah enters this game as a 4.5 point favorite being at home for the NIT in the opening two rounds.

Both of these teams are not priding themselves on defense this season, especially Iowa who ranks near the bottom of the list allowing 79.1 points per game (328th in the nation). Utah doesn’t fare much better, but 184th with 72.7 PPG is much more manageable. On the other side, both teams rank in the top 70 in effective field goal percentage and top 15 in assists. They love to move the ball around and create a variety of shot opportunities. These metrics are telling us that this should be a high scoring affair.

Iowa does a fantastic job handling the ball, 20th in the country in fewest turnovers per game (9.7). Turnovers can kill teams in college basketball and by staying disciplined, there is an advantage for the Hawkeyes in a road environment. Utah struggles more in this category averaging 11.6 per game.

The Hawkeyes have a lot of veterans on their roster. Beyond Sanfort, head coach Fran McCaffrey looks to seniors Tony Perkins and Ben Krikke who are both double digit scorers this season. Patrick McCaffrey is also another key contributor off the bench averaging 8.5 PPG. They have gone through a lot of experience in Iowa, which helps programs in games like this.

In a tournament setting regardless of home court, I expect Iowa is the team who will play better in this matchup. With two efficient offenses, it’s all about handling the ball and who will make the last stand. Both sides have playmakers which will make it an exciting game. With a lower turnover rate paired with a consistent arsenal of playmakers, I like the Hawkeyes in this game. I’m not going to take them outright, but play it safe on the spread of a couple buckets for a spot in the NIT quarterfinals.

PICK: Iowa +4.5

Note: Odds are subject to change.