*Note: All data is from the 1985 tournament to the present.
In 29 of the last 33 years, the 12 seed has won at least one first round game for a total record of 47-85 (35.6 percent) against the 5 seed. The only exceptions were in 1988, 2000, 2007 and 2015.
The lower seed is 19-27 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 2017, No. 5 Notre Dame held off No. 12 Princeton, 60-58.
While more than 50 percent of the 12-seeds who won in the first round fail to advance past the second round (including those Little Rock and Yale teams, and last year's lone victor, Middle Tennessee), 18 of the 47 teams have indeed made it it to Sweet 16.
DePaul got the ball rolling in 1986 after beating Virginia by four in the opening round, and North Dakota State was the last 12 seed to advance to the Sweet 16 in 2014. Eastern Michigan’s 20-point win over Mississippi State in 1991 still stands as the largest victory by a 12 seed over a 5 seed.
Missouri is the only program to make it to the Elite Eight as a 12 seed. In 2002, the Tigers’ run through the West regional bracket began with a 93-80 win over fifth-seeded Miami (Fla.). That game featured a ferocious Tiger squad where six players -- including the entire starting lineup -- eclipsed double-digits in points. Led by senior guard Clarence Gilbert, Missouri raced out to an eight-point halftime lead and tacked on a few more for the 13-point upset victory.
The Tigers went on to upset fourth-seeded Ohio State and eighth-seeded UCLA before falling in the Elite Eight to second-seeded Oklahoma.
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.
|2001||Utah State||Ohio State||77-68|
|2010||Texas A&M||Utah State||69-53|
|2011||Kansas State||Utah State||73-68|
Eastern Michigan offered the biggest surprise in the first round, as the Eagles beat Mississippi State, 76-56, on March 15, 1991.