Creighton vs. Akron odds, prediction, betting trends for 2024 March Madness first-round matchup

The Creighton Bluejays will play the Akron Zips in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday. Akron is returning to March Madness for the second time in three seasons. In 2022, they took UCLA down to the wire in a 13-4 matchup, losing by just four points. Creighton is 17-15 against the spread this season but ended the season playing really well, winning three of their last four games and covering the spread in each win.

Akron is only 15-16-1 against the spread and did not have a strong end to the regular season, losing three of their final four games. The Zips got hot, though, and won three straight in the MAC Tournament to earn their automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.  

Here’s everything you need to know about betting on Creighton vs. Akron in the 2024 NCAA Tournament, including updated odds, trends and our prediction for this first-round game.

Creighton vs. Akron odds

Here are the latest college basketball betting odds for Creighton vs. Akron from the best online sports betting sites in the U.S.

The Zips are double-digit underdogs to Creighton, and oddsmakers are anticipating a lot of points in this matchup, with a point total line in the 140s. If the Zips were to pull off an upset, they have one of the highest moneyline values of any underdog in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

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Three betting trends to watch

  • Creighton has covered the spread in seven of their last nine games, as they are playing the best we have seen all season, peaking at the perfect time.
  • Akron won three in a row in the MAC Tournament but has only covered the spread twice in their last seven games.
  • Akron has only covered the spread once in 10 losses this season. 

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Creighton Bluejays key players

  • The Bluejays have one of the best guard duos in the nation. Baylor Scheierman leads Creighton in scoring, averaging 18.4 PPG, and leads the team in rebounding with 9 RPG. He can score at all three levels, shooting 44.8% from the field and 37.2% from three. Don’t foul him, either, because Scheierman is an excellent free throw shooter, making 86.8% of his attempts.
  • His partner in the backcourt, Trey Alexander, averages 17.6 PPG and 5.7 RPG and leads the team in assists with 4.8 APG. The 6-foot-4 guard has been very consistent, scoring double digits in 14 straight games, and has had at least 15 points in eight straight.
  • Rounding out the Bluejays’ big three is center Ryan Kalkbrenner, who is averaging 17.1 PPG and 7.4 RPG while shooting 65% from the field. The 7-foot-1 center is second in all of college basketball, averaging 3.0 blocks per game, giving Creighton elite rim protection.

Akron Zips key players

  • Enrique Freeman, the leading scorer for Akron, averages 18.6 PPG and leads nation in rebounding with 12.9 RPG. Freeman may only be 6-foot-7, but he has a nose for the ball and gets excellent position when the ball goes up. His consistency is impressive, too, as he has 30 double-doubles in 34 games this season.
  • Ali Ali, the top guard for Akron and the team’s second-leading scorer, averages 15.6 PPG and is second on the team with 4.1 rebounds per game. He leads the team with 2.8 assists per night and is an efficient scorer, especially for a guard, shooting 48.2% from the field. He has also ended the season playing his best basketball, scoring over his average in five of his last seven games and scoring 12-plus points in 11 straight games.
  • Sammy Hunter, the fourth-leading scorer and the only other frontcourt player besides Freeman who plays 10-plus minutes a game, averages 8.8 PPG. He leads the team with 59 made threes this season and shoots 36.4% from three. 

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Best individual matchup: Sammy Hunter vs. Ryan Kalkbrenner

This may not be the matchup you would think of immediately, but if there is any chance for Akron to pull off an upset, it is the one they have to win. Sammy Hunter, the starting five-man for the Zips, has nine games this season where he made three-plus three-pointers. If he can have a game like that and pull Kalkbrenner, the nation’s second-leading shot blocker, away from the rim, it does two things. 

  1. It opens the lane for Akron’s guards to get to the rim and have easier scoring opportunities.
  2. The nation’s leading rebounder, Enrique Freeman, won’t have to contend with Kalkbrenner and could have a strong game on the offensive glass and get some easy putbacks that help keep Akron in the game.

Creighton vs. Akron stat to know

It is all about shooting percentage:

  • Creighton shoots 48.6% from the field, while Akron shoots just 45.6%.
  • Creighton shoots 36.1% from three, while Akron shoots just 32.8% from three.
  • Creighton shoots 48.6% from the field, while Akron shoots just 72.8% from the free throw line.

Akron will have to win decisively somewhere, whether it’s rebounding, turnovers or shooting way above their averages. Otherwise, it will be a long night against a really strong Creighton team.

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Creighton vs. Akron prediction: Creighton scoring too much for Akron

Akron does some things that set up well to be a Cinderella and pull off an upset in a lot of matchups. This matchup with Creighton is not one of them, though. The Bluejays are 12th for adjusted offensive efficiency and 24th for adjusted defensive efficiency. In contrast, Akron is 162nd for adjusted offensive efficiency and 97th for adjusted defensive efficiency. The Bluejays will score, and Akron will not be able to match their pace without some March Madness magic.

Prediction: Creighton 82, Akron 65. Creighton (-12.5) covers the spread, with the game going OVER the total (141.5).

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