Fun Fact: If you complete an NCAA Tournament Support and don’t choose at least one 12 out of 5 Upset, your submission is automatically rejected. True story.
OK, that’s not really a true story. But if you don’t pick a 12 out of 5, why are you even filling in a rack? It’s a double-digit upheaval, which is funny, and history shows us there’s a very good chance that at least a 12-seeded will play at least two games.
Here’s a comprehensive look at the history of 12v5 games in the NCAA tournament, including the most memorable upheavals and important numbers to know while filling your March Madness bracket.
History of 12 seeds vs 5 upsets in NCAA tournament
There really is something magical about these 12-5 games. Think about this: in the last 40 years, there have been 50 Upsets of 12 out of 5, and at the same time, there have only been 52 wins of 11 of 6 and 55 results of 10 of 7. Remember You, the No.5 seeded teams are usually ranked in the top 20 in polls, while the lineage 7 teams are barely in the ‘also receiving votes’ category, and yet the top 5. series lose almost as much as the 7 seeds.
And instead of telling you that every year there was an upheaval of 12 out of 5, it’s a lot – A LOT – easier to just list the years that didn’t happen: 1988, 2000, 2007, 2015. and 2018. That’s it, five years. That’s the whole list.
How many times have at least two No.12 seeds won? Let’s look at: 1990, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2009. 2012, 2013, 2014, 2019. It’s 13, if you don’t feel like counting. History shows us that it is more than TWICE as likely to have two or more 12 seeds winning than it is to have no 12 seed wins.
But wait, there is more!
Here is a list of the years when THREE 12 seeds beat a 5 seeds: 2002, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2019. Yeah, five times. So in the last 40 years we’ve seen as many years with three 12-seed winning matches as we haven’t seen any 12-seeded winning match. Heck, in the 2013-14 tournaments the No.12 seeds went 6-2 against the No.5 seeds.
So, you know, pick at least an upset 12-over-5, guys.
|1985||Kentucky def. Washington||66-58|
|1986||DePaul def. Virginia||72-68|
|1987||Wyoming def. Virginia||64-60|
|1989||DePaul def. Memphis State||66-63|
|1990||Dayton def. Illinois||88-86|
|1990||Ball State def. Oregon State||54-53|
|1991||Eastern Michigan def. Mississippi State||76-56|
|1992||State of New Mexico def. From Paul||81-73|
|1993||George Washington won. New Mexico||82-68|
|1994||UW-Green Bay won. California||61-57|
|1994||Tulsa def. UCLA||112-102|
|1995||Miami (Ohio) won. Arizona||71-62|
|1996||Drexel def. Memphis||75-63|
|1996||Arkansas won. Penn State||86-80|
|1997||College of Charleston def. Maryland||75-66|
|1998||State of Florida def. TCU||96-87|
|1999||Detroit def. UCLA||56-53|
|1999||State of Missouri def. TCU||96-87|
|2001||State of Utah def. Ohio state||77-68 (OT)|
|2001||Gonzaga beats. Virginia||86-85|
|2002||Tulsa def. Marquette||71-69|
|2002||Missouri def. Miami (Florida)||93-80|
|2002||Creighton def. Florida||83-82 (2OT)|
|2003||Butler def. Mississippi State||47-46|
|2004||Pacific def. Providence||66-58|
|2005||Milwaukee beats. Alabama||83-73|
|2006||Montana def. Nevada||87-79|
|2006||Texas A&M won. Syracuse||66-58|
|2008||Villanova beats. Clemson||75-69|
|2008||Western Kentucky def. Duck||101-99 (OT)|
|2009||Wisconsin def. Florida State||61-59 (OT)|
|2009||Arizona def. Utah||84-71|
|2009||Western Kentucky def. Illinois||76-72|
|2010||Cornell def. Temple||78-65|
|2011||Richmond def. Vanderbilt||69-66|
|2012||South Florida def. Temple||58-44|
|2012||VCU def. Wichita State||62-59|
|2013||Ole Miss won. Wisconsin||57-46|
|2013||California def. UNLV||64-61|
|2013||Oregon def. Oklahoma State||68-55|
|2014||Harvard def. Cincinnati||61-57|
|2014||State of North Dakota def. Oklahoma||80-75 (OT)|
|2014||Stephen F. Austin defeated. VCU||77-75 (OT)|
|2016||Little Rock def. Purdue||85-83 (2OT)|
|2016||Yale def. Baylor||79-75|
|2017||Middle Tennessee def. Minnesota||81-72|
|2019||Oregon def. Wisconsin||72-54|
|2019||Liberty def. Mississippi State||80-76|
|2019||Murray State def. Marquette||83-64|
|2021||State of Oregon def. Tennessee||70-56|
12 seeds versus 5 seeds in numbers
- 51-93: Record for 12 seeds against 5 seeds
- 35.4 percent: Overall winning percentage for 12 seeds since 1985
- 20: Greater margin of victory for a 12 seed; Eastern Michigan on the State of Mississippi (76-56)
- 1. Smaller margin of victory for a seeded 12; four times, first by Ball State over Oregon State (54-53)
- 7: Number of times a seeded 12 has won in overtime
- 2: Number of times a seeded 12 has won in double overtime
- 1: Buzzer-beater wins for 12 seeds: Western Kentucky over Drake (101-99)
- 21: 12 seeds to reach the Sweet 16
- 1: 12 seeds to reach the elite eight
Has a seed of 12 ever won March Madness?
No, a seeded 12 has never won the NCAA tournament, but you should keep the idea in the “not very likely but not impossible” category. Remember, there were several 11 seeds to crush the Final Four, and crazy things can happen in a 40 minute basketball game.
Of the 21 seeded 12 to reach the Sweet 16, only the 2002 Missouri Tigers actually won this Sweet 16 contest to qualify for the Elite Eight. It was a talented but inconsistent team led by Kareem Rush, the junior with the smooth left hand shot, with sophomores Rickey Paulding and Arthur Johnson and the happy senior shot Clarence Gilbert.
The Tigers knocked out Miami, Fla. In Game 1, then passed fourth-seeded Ohio State by 16 in the second round. Instead of facing the No. 1 seed in the Sweet 16, they played No. 8 UCLA; the Bruins had knocked down Cincinnati in double overtime. Mizzou also passed UCLA, winning 82-73. In the Elite Eight game against Oklahoma No.2 – a Big 12 rival who was 34-5 at the start of the game and who had beaten the Tigers by 13 points in their only regular-season game – Mizzou held on. good despite Gilbert’s mistakes and shooting misfortunes (he finished the match 1 against 16 on the field).
The Tigers reduced Oklahoma’s lead to three points at 70-67 with less than three minutes to go, but never came close in an 81-75 loss.
The lowest seed to win the NCAA tournament
Since the tournament grew to 64 teams in 1985, we’ve seen five double-digit seeds reach the Final Four:
- 11 LSU seeds in 1986
- 11 George Mason seeds in 2006
- 11 VCU seeds in 2011
- 10 Syracuse seeds in 2016
- 11 seeded Loyola Chicago in 2018
All four lost before reaching the title match. Only four teams ranked below the No.3 bloodline won the national title: a seeded 4 (Arizona in 1997), seeded 6 (Kansas in 1988), seeded seven (UConn in 2014) and an 8 seed (Villanova in 1985). No seed of 5 has ever won. The story of Villanova is a story of legend; a courageous and methodical 8-seed who reached the title game by securing a narrow winning streak (three by three points or less) and facing the mighty Georgetown Hoyas in the championship game.
It’s considered by some to be the biggest upheaval in NCAA tournament history. But here’s the thing: It makes a great David and Goliath story, but Villanova was damn good. In the 1985 and 1986 NBA Drafts, three starters from that 1985 team made top 30 picks (Ed Pinckney at 10 and Dwayne McClain at 27 in 1985 and Harold Pressley at 17 in 1986; Gary McLain is went to the seventh round in 1985). From the fact that Villanova had already played Georgetown TWICE that year – losses of just two points and seven points – and, sorry, that doesn’t make for an all-time upset top-five.
It does, however, make for a pretty cool championship story.