March Madness Bracket Help: 5 vs. 12 Seed Upsets
by Trevor Whenham - 3/18/2015
You don't even have to pay much attention to the NCAA tournament to know that when you are filling out your bracket and looking for an upset the place to look is the good old 5-12 matchup. In the 30-year history of the tournament since it expanded to 64 teams in 1985, the lower seeds in this matchup have a very solid 44-76 record, which means that we have seen upsets at a very strong 36.7 percent clip. Things have been even more positive for the No. 12 teams in recent years. Last year, for example, only one No. 5 survived their opening game. So, what do we have in store for this year? More upsets to fatten our wallets and shape our brackets? Here's some March Madness brackets help with the 5s vs. the 12s.
West Virginia vs. Buffalo: Bobby Hurley could certainly play in the NCAA Tournament. After two titles at Duke, and a Most Outstanding Player award the second time, we know that. He's an all-time NCAA tournament great. We don't yet know if he can do as well as a coach in March - this is his first head coaching job, and he has brought Buffalo to the tournament for the first time in program history. What we do know, though, is that Hurley is already an excellent coach - even with just two years of experience. His team is very efficient, they are red-hot with eight straight wins, and they have been well-seasoned in what is a very tough MAC conference. They are a good team and a tough one to play. West Virginia is solid, and like all Coach Huggins-led teams they can rebound well above average. They are a bit of a one-trick pony, though - they press, press, and press some more. It has worked for them, but Hurley is a creative, aggressive coach who is going to try some things to get around the press. If he can do that then he can very much win this one. I wouldn't be even a little bit surprised if Buffalo gets their first tournament win in their first-ever tournament game.
Arkansas vs. Wofford: This is the fourth tournament appearance in the last six years for Wofford, so the Terriers are a quality team. They do not have a win yet, though, and I don't like their chances here. They got very lucky to win their conference championship game, and that was against a lousy Furman team that was just 11-21 heading into the game. Arkansas has the best player in this game by a very wide margin in Bobby Portis, and they are coming off a thoroughly respectable performance in the SEC Championship game against the ridiculous Kentucky juggernaut. I don't see an upset happening here.
Northern Iowa vs. Wyoming: Wyoming deserves a lot of credit. Not only did they win the always-tough Mountain West conference this year, but they had to beat both Boise State and San Diego State to do so. That's no easy task this year. Good team. Tough spot, though. Northern Iowa is a very impressive team. They play brutal, relentless defense, and teams wind up visibly frustrated after playing against them. In Seth Tuttle they also have a truly elite player, too. They have won 30 games this year, and that hasn't come against a totally soft schedule, either. This is a very legitimate team and one with enough seasoning in the tournament in recent years that they won't be caught flat-footed out of the game. Like Arkansas, Northern Iowa deserves their higher seeding, and it would be fairly surprising to see an upset here.
Utah vs. Stephen F. Austin: We save the best game for last here. It seems almost unfair that perhaps the best of the No. 12 teams is up against perhaps the best of the No. 5 squads. Utah plays impressive defense, and they are loaded with talent. It used to be easy to think of this team as a joke, but they aren't kidding around anymore. They are a good team. So is Stephen F. Austin. They upset VCU last year as a No. 12 seed, so they are obviously capable of winning in this spot. They have lost just once since Nov. 24 and just four times overall. Thomas Walkup is a very good player, and he is at the helm of a deep and tough roster. They play very efficiently on offense, and they play a pressure style of defense that can confound opponents. Utah is, deservedly, the solid favorite ( 6.5 points as I write), but the Lumberjacks are dangerous. This is a fairly wide-open game.
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