Could No. 12 Seeds Wreak Havoc Again on No. 5 Seeds in NCAA Tournament?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018 12:35 PM UTC

Wednesday, Mar. 14, 2018 12:35 PM UTC

No. 12 seeds have been thorns in the sides of No. 5s for several years now, and this year’s tournament is no different as we explore the NCAA basketball odds in the four first-round contests.

It was the bloodshed inflicted by No 12 seeds in the 2013 and 2014 NCAA Tournaments that led to the current mystique of the 5/12 matchups being upsets waiting to happen. In each of those tourneys, three No. 12 seeds stunned their No. 5 opponents, and in one of the two matchups they didn’t win the 12 seed still managed to push the NCAA basketball odds in an overtime loss.

Things have calmed down considerable since then, including the 2015 event during which all four No. 5 seeds advanced into the second round. That doesn’t mean things have returned to normal, whatever normal might be, and even Kentucky head coach John Calipari joked a little about his Wildcats being in a prime upset position based on recent history. More on UK’s 5/12 clash in a bit.

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No. 12 Seeds 3-5 SU, 5-3 ATS Last Two Dances

If we go back to the advent of the First Four round in 2011, No. 5 seeds have won 17 of the 28 matchups against No. 12s. Going by the numbers set by sportsbooks in those games, however, betting the No. 12 seeds has been the way to go with winning tickets in 16 of the 28 contests, along with the lone push in 2014 when Saint Louis was favored by 3 and needed overtime to post an 83-80 win over a North Carolina State that took part in the First Four.

Among the factors that might be contributing to the outright upsets is the caliber of teams that often fill the No. 12 slots. In the massacres of 2013-14, half of the eight No. 12 seeds those seasons were at-large bids given to teams from Power 5 conferences (Oregon, Ole Miss, Cal and NC State). Another factor could be when the 5/12 games have been played, with 17 of the last 28 taking place on Thursday. That gives coaches one less day to prepare their teams, and one less day to possibly point out upsets on that first full day of March Madness to impress upon their players to take the lower seeds more seriously.

Who Among This Year’s No. 12s Can Send A No. 5 Packing?

This year’s quartet of 5/12 matchups are split on the Thursday-Friday schedule, with all four No. 5s coming from Power 5 conferences and all four No. 12s from mid-majors. Ohio State is the first No. 5 to hit the floor on Thursday, and the Buckeyes are 8-point favorites against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. Kentucky and Davidson follow later that day, Calipari’s crew laying 5 in the double-Wildcats clash. On Friday, West Virginia is 9½-point chalk against Murray State while Clemson is -4½ against New Mexico State.

I moved all four No. 5s into the second round with straight-up wins, though all four No. 12s could wreck my bracket. Of the four matchups, I will definitely be taking the points and adding the underdog Jackrabbits and Racers to my free NCAA basketball picks.

Check out SBR’s college basketball odds page for updated lines. Also, head over to the March Madness Betting Headquarters for vital handicapping information, picks, and a list of the best sports books and live betting options for the tournament season.

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