2013 March Madness Handicapping: No. 5 vs. No. 12 Seeds
by Aaron Smith - 3/18/2013
With Selection Sunday in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to focus on this year’s NCAA Tournament. March Madness is such a huge event for a couple main reasons. First of all, NCAA Tournament Bracket pools are extremely popular with sports and non-sports fans alike. Second, March is the time of the year for the underdog, and there aren’t many people who don’t love a good underdog story.
As soon as the March Madness Bracket is released, fans from all over start looking for the first major upset. The No. 1 seed has never lost a game, and the No. 2 seed has lost only six times since 1985. The No. 3 seed has won 86 percent of the time against the No. 14 seed. The No. 4 seed has won 79 percent of the time against the No. 13 seed.
What about the No. 5 seed against the No. 12 seed? Well, that’s where the “upset” starts getting a lot more probable. The No. 5 seed has won 66 percent of its games against the No. 12 seed in the last 27 years. Last year, two No. 12 seeds pulled off upsets over No. 5 seeds (VCU over Wichita State and USF over Temple). Interestingly, No. 12 seeds are also 12-6 ATS in the last 18 games played between these two seeds in March Madness.
What makes No. 12 seeds so dangerous? In most years, there is at least one No. 12 seed that has been badly under-seeded by the selection committee. This year the Oregon Ducks are a perfect example of that. Quite often, No. 12 seeds come in with a real chip on their shoulder because they believe they should have been a higher seed. On the other side, there are only so many dominant teams in the NCAA Tournament. No. 5 seeds often are a couple notches below the top four seeds in the tournament. In fact, a No. 5 seed has never won the NCAA Tournament.
Here is a quick look at the No. 5 vs. No. 12 seed matchups for 2013. Who should be on upset alert this year? Let’s break down the matchups as part of our March Madness handicapping. All NCAA Tournament odds listed are from BookMaker.
Midwest Region: No. 5 Oklahoma State Cowboys (-3.5) vs. No. 12 Oregon Ducks
Oregon is 21-4 this year with freshman guard Dominic Artis in the lineup. The Ducks struggled without him in the lineup in the middle of the season, and it seems like the committee focused on those games. Artis is back now, but he is less than 100 percent. Dana Altman decided to play it off to the media as if he wasn’t upset with the team’s No. 12 seed, but you better believe he’ll be using it as motivation inside the locker room.
Oklahoma State is one of the youngest teams in the NCAA Tournament. Freshman sensation Marcus Smart is one of the best players in the nation. The Cowboys are a little bit streaky, which isn’t a big surprise due to their youth. This game will be played on the West Coast, so Oregon will get a little home court advantage. A ticked off No. 12 seed is dangerous, so I think grabbing the points is a good idea here.
Pick: Oregon +3.5
West Region: No. 5 Wisconsin Badgers (-5) vs. No. 12 Mississippi Rebels
These teams couldn’t be more different. The Badgers slow the game down better than anyone else in the nation, and they excel at taking care of the ball and playing great defense. Wisconsin allows only 56 points per contest. Mississippi loves to get up and down, and the Rebels average 78 points per game.
The Big Ten Conference was the deepest in the nation this year, while the SEC was awful. The Rebels didn’t play nearly the same level of competition as the Badgers did this season, and I think it will show in this one. Marshall Henderson is capable of lighting it up from deep, but I don’t like his shot selection. Wisconsin will be the best defense he has seen this year. The Badgers have won at least one game in the NCAA Tournament in five straight seasons. Wisconsin should make it six straight here, and I expect them to cover as well.
Pick: Wisconsin -5
South Region: No. 5 VCU Rams (-7) vs. No. 12 Akron Zips
VCU is used to playing the underdog role, but they are the big favorite in this one. Akron managed to make the NCAA Tournament, but their team isn’t nearly as strong without point guard Alex Abreu (out due to an arrest and indefinite suspension). The Zips had the nation’s longest winning streak early this month, but they haven’t looked great without their floor general.
If there was ever a team that you need a veteran floor general against, it is the VCU Rams. Shaka Smart’s Rams use their full-court pressure to force opponents into tons of turnovers. The Rams have more steals this year than any other team in the country. Akron should win the battle on the boards, but I don’t think that will be enough. VCU’s pressure will be too much for the Zips to handle. Look for the No. 5 seed to move through comfortably.
Pick: VCU -7
East Region: No. 5 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (-2) vs. No. 12 California Golden Bears
These teams met earlier this year, and it was the Runnin’ Rebels who won by a point at California. Because of the inconsistency of these two teams, this is probably the most difficult No. 5 vs. No. 12 matchup to analyze. Both of these teams have the ability to be dangerous, but both of them have also had periods where they look inept.
Mike Moser is UNLV’s most talented player, but he hasn’t been 100 percent all year due to an elbow injury. Allen Crabbe was named Pac-12 Player of the Year this season for the Golden Bears. Cal has struggled shooting the ball this season, and UNLV’s defense is better than most realize. The single biggest factor for me in this game is the strength of the Mountain West Conference. UNLV has been playing tough competition all year, and that should help them get through this game.
Pick: UNLV -2
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Read more articles by Aaron Smith
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