basketball-men-d1 flag

Joe Boozell | NCAA.com | March 11, 2020

History of 5 seeds vs. 12 seeds in March Madness

Everything you need to know about March Madness

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.

MARCH MADNESS GUIDE: What is the selection committee, and who's on it?

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.

12-5 upsets
Year Result Score
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.

13-seed upsets over 4-seeds
Year Result Score
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.

Ja Morant leads Murray State to dominating win over Marquette

Liberty, fresh off an ASUN championship, edged Mississippi State in another 2019 12-5 game.

Liberty upsets Mississippi State 80-76

Oregon also won big in the opening round of 2019, dismantling Wisconsin 72-54 before reaching the Sweet 16. 

Oregon comes up with huge Wisconsin upset

Little Rock shocked Purdue in 2016, eking out a 79-75 win. 

First Round: Arkansas-Little Rock upsets Purdue

South Carolina's Dawn Staley, Dayton's Anthony Grant named 2020 Naismith Coaches of the Year

South Carolina's Dawn Staley and Dayton's Anthony Grant are the first coaches from their respective schools to win the Naismith Coach of the Year award.
READ MORE

North Carolina's Bubba Cunningham to join men’s basketball committee, Toledo’s Mike O’Brien to remain through 2022 tournament

Bubba Cunningham, the director of athletics at the North Carolina, has been named to the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee. In addition, Toledo athletics director Mike O’Brien will serve an additional two years through the 2022 championship.
READ MORE

Baylor's DiDi Richards, Kansas' Marcus Garrett named 2020 Naismith Defensive Players of the Year

On April 1, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Baylor's DiDi Richards and Kansas' Marcus Garrett as the 2020 Naismith Defensive Players of the Year.
READ MORE

Subscribe To Email Updates

Enter your information to receive emails about offers, promotions from NCAA.com and our partners