The 12-5 upset is one of the most popular March Madness picks each year, and for good reason. It's happened quite a few times since the NCAA tournament field expanded in 1985.
Here's everything you need to know about 12 seeds vs. 5 seeds in March Madness.
History of 12 vs. 5 seeds in March Madness
There have been 50 upsets by 12-seeds since the NCAA tournament field expanded in 1985. That means the lower seed is 50-90, equating to a 35.71 win percentage.
Here are all of the times a 12 seed has knocked off a 5 seed.
|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||New Mexico State def. DePaul||81-73|
|1993||George Washington def. New Mexico||82-68|
|1994||UW-Green Bay def. California||61-57|
|1994||Tulsa def. UCLA||112-102|
|1995||Miami (Ohio) def. Arizona||71-62|
|1996||Drexel def. Memphis||75-63|
|1996||Arkansas def. Penn State||86-80|
|1997||College of Charleston def. Maryland||75-66|
|1998||Florida State def. TCU||96-87|
|1999||Detroit def. UCLA||56-53|
|1999||Missouri State def. TCU||96-87|
|2001||Utah State def. Ohio State||77-68 (OT)|
|2001||Gonzaga def. Virginia||86-85|
|2002||Tulsa def. Marquette||71-69|
|2002||Missouri def. Miami (Fla.)||93-80|
|2002||Creighton def. Florida||83-82 (2OT)|
|2003||Butler def. Mississippi State||47-46|
|2004||Pacific def. Providence||66-58|
|2005||Milwaukee def. Alabama||83-73|
|2006||Montana def. Nevada||87-79|
|2006||Texas A&M def. Syracuse||66-58|
|2008||Villanova def. Clemson||75-69|
|2008||Western Kentucky def. Drake||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 def. Wisconsin||57-46|
|2013||California def. UNLV||64-61|
|2013||Oregon def. Oklahoma State||68-55|
|2014||Harvard def. Cincinnati||61-57|
|2014||North Dakota State def. Oklahoma||80-75(OT)|
|2014||Stephen F. Austin def. 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||Liberty def. Mississippi State||80-76|
|2019||Murray State def. Marquette||83-64|
|2019||Oregon def. Wisconsin||72-54|
Some more tidbits:
- In 30 of the last 35 years, the 12 seed has won at least one first round game. The only exceptions came in 1988, 2000, 2007, 2015 and 2018.
- The lower seed is 20-28 in games decided by four points or fewer. Two of those close wins came in 2016, as No. 12 Little Rock knocked Purdue out of the first round with a 85-83 win and No. 12 Yale took down Baylor 79-74. In 2019, No. 12 Liberty held on to beat No. 5 Mississippi State 80-76 while No. 5 Auburn escaped No. 12 New Mexico State 78-77.
- While more than 50 percent of the 12-seeds who won in the first round fail to advance past the second round, 21 of the 50 teams have indeed made it it to Sweet 16.
- Utah State, who has been the No. 12 seed a record five times, is only 1-4 against No. 5 seeds. Its lone win came in 2001 against Ohio State.
How much more likely is a 12-5 upset than a 13-4 upset?
Twenty-nine 13 seeds have upset 4 seeds since the NCAA tournament field expanded in 1985, giving them a 29-111 record all-time. That equates to a 20.71 winning percentage, so it's 15 percentage points less likely.
Here are all of the times a 13 seed has upset a 4.
|1985||Navy def. LSU||78-55|
|1987||Missouri State def. Clemson||65-60|
|1987||Xavier def. Missouri||70-69|
|1988||Richmond def. Indiana||72-69|
|1989||Middle Tennessee def. Florida State||97-83|
|1991||Penn State def. UCLA||74-69|
|1992||Southwestern Louisiana def. Oklahoma||87-83|
|1993||Southern def. Georgia Tech||93-78|
|1995||Manhattan def. Oklahoma||77-67|
|1996||Princeton def. UCLA||43-41|
|1998||Valparaiso def. Ole Miss||70-69|
|1999||Oklahoma def. Arizona||61-60|
|2001||Indiana State def. Oklahoma||70-68|
|2001||Kent State def. Indiana||77-73|
|2002||UNC Wilmington def. USC||93-89|
|2003||Tulsa def. Dayton||84-71|
|2005||Vermont def. Syracuse||60-57|
|2006||Bradley def. Kansas||77-73|
|2008||Siena def. Vanderbilt||83-62|
|2008||San Diego def. UConn||70-69|
|2009||Cleveland State def. Wake Forest||84-69|
|2010||Murray State def. Vanderbilt||66-65|
|2011||Morehead State def. Louisville||62-61|
|2012||Ohio def. Michigan||65-60|
|2013||La Salle def. Kansas State||63-61|
|2016||Hawaii def. California||77-66|
|2018||Buffalo def. Arizona||89-69|
|2018||Marshall def. Wichita State||81-75|
|2019||UC Irvine def. Kansas State||70-64|
How much more likely is an 11-6 upset than a 12-5 upset?
Fifty-two 11 seeds have upset 6 seeds since 1985, so it's only happened two more times than the 12-5 upset. An 11-6 upset is 1.43 percentage points more likely to occur than a 12-5 upset.
Recent highlights of 12-5 upsets
Here are some highlights from the 12-5 upsets that have happened lately.
Murray State's Ja Morant joined exclusive company in 2019, posting the ninth triple-double in NCAA tournament history as the 12-seed Racers took down No. 5 Marquette, 83-64.
Liberty, fresh off an ASUN championship, edged Mississippi State in another 2019 12-5 game.
Oregon also won big in the opening round of 2019, dismantling Wisconsin 72-54 before reaching the Sweet 16.
Little Rock shocked Purdue in 2016, eking out a 79-75 win.