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Akron vs Creighton Odds, Predictions & Expert Picks for March Madness (March 21)

Sascha Paruk

by Sascha Paruk in College Basketball

Updated Mar 20, 2024 · 1:25 PM PDT

Creighton Bluejays guard Baylor Scheierman shooting a three
Mar 9, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Creighton Bluejays guard Baylor Scheierman (55) shoots against the Villanova Wildcats in the first half at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
  • The #3 Creighton Bulldogs start their NCAA Tournament against the #14 Akron Zips
  • Creighton returns its three-leading scorers from last year’s team which reached the Elite Eight
  • See the Akron vs Creighton odds, predictions, and expert picks for March 21

Looking to make a deep NCAA Tournament run for the second straight season, the #3 Creighton Bluejays (23-9, 1-2 neutral, ATS) will face the #14 Akron Zips () in the first round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament on Thursday, March 21.

Tip-off is scheduled for 1:30 am ET at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA, which actually gives the Zips a bit of a geographical edge. It’s less than a two-hour drive from Akron to Pittsburgh but nearly 14 hours from Omaha.

Nonetheless, the Akron vs Creighton odds heavily favor the Bluejays.

Akron vs Creighton Odds

Team Spread Moneyline Total
Akron Zips +12.5 (-110) +600 Over 141 (-112)
Creighton Bluejays -12.5 (-110) -900 Under 141 (-108)

Thursday’s college basketball odds list Creighton as a 12.5-point favorite against the spread and a hyper-short -900 on the moneyline. The Zips are +600 longshots to advance, while the game total is sitting at 141 (-112o/-108u).

Akron fans can take some encouragement from the fact that the line has actually moved in the Zips’ favor. The opening March Madness first-round odds listed Creighton as a 13.5-point favorite.

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Odds as of March 20. Check out the best college basketball betting apps to wager on March Madness. 

Creighton is currently +400 to win the Midwest Region in the Final Four odds, fading from +340 on Sunday. They remain the third-favorite in the Midwest behind #1 Purdue (+165) and #2 Tennessee (+350). Akron is +13000.

The winner of this matchup will move on to face the winner of #6 South Carolina vs #11 Oregon in the second round of the March Madness bracket.

Akron Survives Kent State Thanks to Mental Error

At 13-5, the Zips finished second in the MAC standings to Toledo (14-4) during the regular season. After beating Miami Ohio (75-63 neutral) and Ohio (65-62 neutral) in the quarters and semis of the MAC Tournament, it looked like Akron would end up on the wrong end of a nail-biter with Kent State until a mental lapse from the Golden Flashes in the dying moments.

But thanks to that last-second error, the Zips are dancing for the second time in three seasons. Akron lost a narrow 57-53 decision to UCLA in 2022 as a #13 seed. The Zips’ three leading scorers – Enrique Freeman (18.6 PPG), Ali Ali (15.6 PPG), and Greg Tribble (10.5 PPG) – were all significant contributors on that 2022 team. Ali was the leading scorer at 13.9 PPG and returned to Akron after transferring to Butler for a season. Freeman was third on the 2022 team at 13.2 PPG and first in rebounding at 10.8 RPG, while Tribble averaged 7.2 PPG in 25.8 minutes.

Despite the continuity and senior leadership, Akron went just 1-3 against fellow NCAA Tournament teams during the regular season. In their opening game, the Zips took down Summit League-champion South Dakota State (81-75 away). They would go onto lose to Utah State (65-62 neutral), Drake (79-59 neutral), and James Madison (73-59 away).  Akron’s only win over a top-100 KenPom team came on Dec. 5 when they secured a 67-52 home win over Bradley (#64).

Creighton Flashes Upside During Inconsistent Regular Season

Creighton entered this season as the 12th-favorite in the March Madness championship odds but faded a little further down the list during a 9-4 start, which included double-digit losses to Colorado State (69-48 neutral) and UNLV (79-64 away). A solid if not spectacular 14-6 record in Big East play put the Bluejays in a tie for second with Marquette, four games back of 18-2 UConn.

Home losses to Villanova (68-66) and Butler (99-98) were cause for concern, as was a 80-66 thrashing at a mediocre St. John’s team. But for every subpar loss, there was a thoroughly impressive victory. Creighton blew out reigning national champion UConn (85-64 home) on Feb. 20 and dominated Marquette (89-75 home) two weeks later.

YouTube video

The team’s three leading scorers from last season (center Ryan Kalkbrenner, point guard Trey Alexander, and wing Baylor Scheierman) all returned and sit 1-2-3 in scoring (and rebounding) for the Bluejays again this year, ranging from 17.1 to 18.4 PPG.

The Bluejays finished the regular season winning seven of eight, but that inconsistency reared its head again in the first round of the Big East Tournament when Creighton fell 78-73 to Providence at MSG as 8.5-point favorites.

A common thread through most of Creighton’s losses, the Bluejays shot terribly in the setback to the Friars, going just 22-of-58 from the floor (37.9%) and 6-of-26 from three (23.1%). For the season, they are hitting at 36.1% from three (56th in the country) but that number should be higher. In the transfer portal, head coach Greg McDermott landed sharpshooting Steven Ashworth, who averaged 16.2 PPG and 43.4% from beyond the arc with Utah State last year. But he’s connected at just a 33.5% clip for the Bluejays.

Star point guard Alexander has also seen his three-point percentage decline from 41% last year to just 32.7% this season.

Akron vs Creighton Prediction

If Creighton shoots poorly, Akron has a chance to stick around in this game. The Zips do a great job of cleaning up their own glass (46th in defensive-rebound percentage) and Creighton makes very little effort on the offensive boards anyway (281st in offensive-rebound percentage) so the Bluejays aren’t likely to get second looks if their shooters are cold.

But Akron’s own offense sits just 163rd in efficiency and connects at a 32% from three (274th in DI). With seven-foot Kalkbrenner, who averages three blocks per game, patrolling the lane, an upset bid for Akron has to start with excellent three-point shooting, and that’s just not a likely scenario.

That said, there is a ton of experience on John Groce’s team and they played UCLA extremely close in a similar position two seasons ago. This is a massive spread that I don’t expect the Bluejays to cover.

Akron vs Creighton picks:

  • Akron +12.5 (-110)
  • Scheierman under 18.5 points (-125)


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