Creighton vs. Akron Prediction, Best Bets, and Odds

Written by: Bryan Zarpentine
Published March 20, 2024
5 min read
  • Creighton was one of just three teams to beat reigning champion UConn this season.

  • Akron was just 6-5 in its last 11 games of the season despite winning three in a row during the MAC Tournament.

  • Akron is 0-5 in NCAA Tournament games while Creighton is 6-3 in the NCAA Tournament over the last three seasons.

On paper, there appears to be a significant difference between the Creighton Bluejays and the Akron Zips. Creighton is the No. 3 seed in the Midwest Region and is considered a team with legitimate Final Four aspirations after making a run to the Elite Eight last season. The Bluejays also head into the Big Dance, winning seven of their last nine games. Meanwhile, the Zips put a rocky end to their regular season behind them and won a competitive MAC Tournament to get to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years. Two years ago, Akron came close to knocking off UCLA in the First Round and is hoping to get over the hump this year for the program’s first NCAA Tournament win.

March Madness 2024 Betting Predictions and Promo Codes for Creighton vs. Akron

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Creighton vs. Akron Predictions and Odds

Creighton

On paper, Creighton's resume looks a little light. Due to a down year for the Big East, the Blue Jays finished the season with just four wins against teams in the NCAA Tournament. However, those wins came against Nebraska, Alabama, UConn, and Marquette, so the Bluejays were able to flex some muscle when facing quality opponents.

The Bluejays also have one of the biggest players in the tournament, 7’1’' center Ryan Kalkbrenner. While he doesn’t get the same attention as Purdue’s Zach Edey, Kalkbrenner can be just as impactful at both ends of the floor. He averages 17.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game and even made 14 three-pointers this season. On the other end, Kalkbrenner averages three blocks per game to anchor the Creighton defense.

Of course, Kalkbrenner is one of just three Creighton players who average at least 17 points per game. Baylor Schierman and Trey Alexander can also score in high volumes. Steven Ashworth is also part of a dynamic backcourt trio for the Bluejays. All three players average at least four assists per game to help fuel an offense that shares the ball and averages over 80 points per game.

Akron

Despite suffering some close losses late in the regular season, the Zips turned things around in the MAC Tournament. Akron knocked off rival Ohio by three points in the semifinals and earned a one-point victory over rival Kent State in the finals to get back to the Big Dance. While those aren’t the most impressive wins on paper, they show that the Zips know how to win games.

Akron is led by forward Enrique Freeman, who is a double-double machine. He averages 18.6 points and 12.9 rebounds per game. Even in the MAC, those are impressive numbers for the fifth-year senior, who was a monster during the conference tournament. Freeman also averages 1.8 blocks per game, so he makes an impact at both ends.

The Zips also have a formidable backcourt duo with Ali Ali and Greg Tribble. Ali is a big guard at 6’8’’ and averages 15.6 points per game despite not being a strong outside shooter. Tribble is a similar player who is better at getting to the basket than he is at settling for outside shots. The trio of Freeman, Ali, and Tribble, as well as some of Akron’s supporting cast, were all part of the team when the Zips nearly beat UCLA two years ago and will feel as if they have unfinished business in the Big Dance.

Creighton vs. Akron Pick

  • PICK: Creighton -12.5 at DraftKings

As a 12.5-point favorite at DraftKings, the Bluejays have a big spread to cover in this game. They also have a feisty opponent that has some tournament experience. But Creighton also had eight Big East wins that came by more than 12 points during the season, so the Bluejays can win lopsided games. With Kalkbrenner, they can neutralize Freeman to some extent and make it hard for the Zips to score close to the basket, forcing them to make outside shots. That’ll take Akron away from its strengths, giving Creighton a clear path to a blowout victory.

How to Watch Creighton vs. Akron

When: 1:30 PM EST on Thursday, March 21

Where: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA

TV: TNT

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Bryan Zarpentine

Sports Betting Analyst

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Bryan Zarpentine is a 2008 graduate of Syracuse University and has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 2010. During that time, he has contributed to countless sites while covering baseball, soccer, the NFL, college football, and college basketball.
Nationality: American
Education: Bachelor of Arts
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Experience:
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