With now just two weeks left before the 2016 NCAA Tournament, we continue our eight-part seeding trend series with our fifth installment, which features the 5-seeds and 12-seeds.
The excitement is building as we are now just two weeks away from the start of the 2016 NCAA Basketball Tournament, which begins with the First Four from Dayton Tuesday and Wednesday, March 15th and 16th, followed by the Second Round (round of 64) Thursday and Friday, March 17th and 18th. And while we will continue our NCAA basketball picks here almost daily, this is the fifth of our eight-part series on seeding trends since 2001 beginning with that Second Round.
The Second Round takes place at various sites, and this year the Thursday venues are Denver, Des Moines, Providence and Raleigh while the Friday venues will be Brooklyn, Oklahoma City, St. Louis and Spokane. Teams are not allowed to be seeded literally on their home floors, but the selection committee does give geographic preference to the top seeds, more often than not placing them in either their home state or at a very close proximity.
NCAA Tournament ATS Records are Since 2001
So what we have done is go back and analyze the NCAA basketball odds boards by individual seed for every round of every NCAA Tournament since 2001, and we are presenting the results here for two seeds daily. Today we are looking at the 5-seeds and 12-seeds, which as you know are the seeds that match up in the round of 64 (Second Round). Yes, we briefly discuss straight up records by seed by round, but our primary focus will still be on ATS performance.
Keep in mind there was one format change that occurred during the course of this 15-year study, and that was in 2011 when the NCAA Tournament field expanded from 65 to 68 teams. Up until that year, there was only one play-in game between the 64th and 65th overall seeds in the tournament, but 2011 marked the birth of the First Four, which is basically four play-in games to advance to the main bracket of 64 teams. The First Four is now officially the First Round.
So without any further ado, here is our look at the seeding trends for the 5-seeds and the 12-seeds for every NCAA Basketball Tournament since 2001, with all of these ATS records based on the closing lines from Pinnacle Sports.
5-Seeds vs. 12-Seeds in Second Round
You will no doubt hear countless times from many broadcasters between now and the round of 64 that the 12-seed upsetting the 5-seed has been the most common big upset since the inception of the seeding process, and that was certainly true prior to last season. The 5-seeds are only 34-26 straight up over the last 15 tournaments as well as a losing 27-32-1, 45.8 percent ATS despite out-scoring the 12-seeds by an average score of 70.8-67.0.
However, the 5-seeds avoided this most common upset bug last year going a perfect 4-0 straight up, and they even went 3-1 ATS with the only non-cover being Arkansas nipping 12th seeded Wofford 56-53 as a 7½-point favorite. So did 2015 signify a changing of the times for 5-seeds over 12-seeds, or was it just a one-time anomaly? Well, only time will tell and we will learn more in two weeks.
What Have 5-Seeds Done Afterwards?
The 5-seeds that have indeed avoided the upsets in their tournament openers the last 15 seasons have gone on to go a respectable 20-14 straight up but only 16-16-2 ATS in the round of 32. The dissection of that record is interesting though as when 5-seeds have matched up with 4-seeds in the Round of 32, they have had the slight upper hand going 15-13 straight up as well as 14-13-1 ATS vs. the higher 4-seeds despite getting slightly outscored by an average of 66.6-68.3.
As mentioned, all 5-seeds advanced to this round last year and as it turned out, all four of them were matched up with 4-seeds. The 5-seeds split 2-2 both straight up and ATS, but the interesting thing there is that the two victorious 5-seeds were actually favored over the 4-seeds, with Utah throttling Georgetown 75-64 and West Virginia downing Maryland 69-59.
When 5-seeds have been matched up with 13-seeds in the Round of 32 since 2001, they have gone 5-1 straight up but 2-3-1 ATS, outscoring the lower 13-seeds by an average of 65.8-59.2.
Most 5-seeds that have advanced to the Sweet 16 have seen their seasons come to a crashing halt going 5-15 straight up, as well as a nondescript 10-10 ATS. Of course, one of the reasons for the poor straight up record this round is often getting matched up with 1-seeds, against whom the 5-seeds are 4-14 straight up and 9-9 ATS wile getting outscored 75.2-68.6.
Last year was more of the same for the 5-seeds as both that advanced to the Sweet 16 took on 1-seeds and promptly went 0-2 both straight up and ATS. There have been two occasions when 5-seeds were matched up with lower seeds in the Sweet 16 since 2001, and they split those matchups 1-1 both straight up and ATS while surprisingly getting slightly outscored 65.0-66.0.
If you like oddities though, consider that the 5-seeds that have reached the Elite Eight are a perfect 5-0 ATS in the last 15 NCAA Tournaments with four of them winning outright! Moreover, the 5-seeds are two points away from being 5-0 straight up in this round as the only loss was by fifth seeded Arizona 65-63 to third seeded Connecticut in 2011.
On the three occasions when the 5-seeds have been matched up with higher seeds, the 5-seeds have prevailed by an average score of 73.3-69.7. On the two occasions that they have faced lower seeds in the Elite Eight, the 5-seeds have outscored them by an average score of 75.5-69.0.
The 5-seeds that advanced to the Final Four round have gone 2-2 both straight up and ATS, but remember, that includes an unexpected match-up of 5-seeds in 2010 when Butler nipped Michigan State 52-50. So when the 5-seeds have faced either 1-seeds or 2-seeds in the Final Four round, they are 1-1 straight up and ATS while getting outscored 72.0-75.5, with the win coming way back in 2002 when fifth seeded Indiana upset second seeded Oklahoma.
Unfortunately, both 5-seeds that reached the Championship Game lost the final outright, but they did split 1-1 ATS while getting outscored 55.5-62.5. That 2002 Indiana team lost by double-digits to Maryland, but the 5-seed that covered the Championship Game was a memorable one when Butler missed a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer and fell to Duke 61-59 in 2010.
What Have 12-Seeds Done Afterwards?
The 12-seeds that have pulled off opening upsets in the last 15 tournaments have continued to be great bets in the round of 32, going 10-16 straight up and a lucrative 17-9, 65.4 percent ATS! Surprisingly, the 12-seeds have been matched up with 13-seeds seven times in this round and they went 5-2 both straight up and ATS in those games while outscoring them 72.4-63.7.
When the 12-seeds have faced 4-seeds in the Round of 32, they may be 5-14 straight up but they have continued their success vs. the number going 12-7 ATS, getting outscored 67.5-71.3.
Thus, there has been an abnormally high amount of 12-seeds to reached the Sweet 16 since 2001, but the 10 that have done so have gone just 1-9 straight up and 3-7 ATS while getting outscored 63.1-77-1. The only 12-seed to advance past this round was the 2002 Missouri Tigers, which knocked off favored 8-seed UCLA.
Missouri then lost in the 2002 Elite Eight, although is did manage a ‘push’ of the six-point spread in the 81-75 loss to second seeded Oklahoma.