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How many 12 seeds have won in March Madness? History of 12 vs. 5 upsets, statistics for NCAA Tournament


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Fun reality: If you fill out an NCAA Tournament bracket and don’t choose no less than one 12-over-5 upset, your submission is mechanically thrown out. True story.

OK, that is not truly a real story. But if you happen to’re not selecting a 12-over-5, why are you even filling out a bracket? It’s a double-digit upset, which is enjoyable, and historical past reveals us there’s a fairly darn good likelihood no less than one 12 seed goes to be enjoying no less than two video games.

Here’s a whole breakdown of the historical past of 12 vs. 5 matchups in the NCAA Tournament, together with probably the most memorable upsets and necessary numbers to know whereas filling out your March Madness bracket.

MORE: Ranking the top 80 upsets in March Madness history

History of 12 seed vs. 5 seed upsets in NCAA Tournament

There actually is one thing magical about these 12-5 video games. Think about this: In the previous 40 years, there have been 50 12-over-5 upsets, and on the similar time there have solely been 52 11-over-6 wins and 55 10-over-7 outcomes. Remember, groups seeded on the No. 5 seed line are typically ranked in the highest 20 in the polls, whereas groups on the 7 seed line are barely in the “also receiving votes” class, and but the 5 seeds lose nearly as a lot because the 7 seeds.

And as an alternative of telling you yearly there’s been a 12-over-5 upset, it’s a lot — MUCH — simpler to simply checklist the years it didn’t occur: 1988, 2000, 2007, 2015 and 2018. That’s it, 5 years. That’s the complete checklist.

How many instances have no less than two No. 12 seeds won? Let’s look: 1990, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2009. 2012, 2013, 2014, 2019. That’s 13, if you happen to didn’t really feel like counting. History reveals us it’s greater than TWICE as more likely to have no less than two 12 seeds win than to have zero 12 seeds win.

But wait, there’s extra!

Here’s a listing of the years the place THREE 12 seeds beat a 5 seed: 2002, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2019. Yep, 5 instances. So in the previous 40 years, we’ve seen as many years with three 12 seeds profitable video games as we’ve seen zero 12 seeds profitable video games. Heck, in the 2013-14 tournaments, No. 12 seeds went 6-2 in opposition to No. 5 seeds.

So, y’know, choose no less than one 12-over-5 upset, people.


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 Oregon def. Wisconsin 72-54
2019 Liberty def. Mississippi State 80-76
2019 Murray State def. Marquette 83-64
2021 Oregon State def. Tennessee 70-56

MORE: The 14 most humiliating first-round chokes in Big Dance history

12 seeds vs. 5 seeds by the numbers

  • 51-93: Record for 12 seeds vs. No. 5 seeds
  • 35.4 %: Overall profitable proportion for 12 seeds since 1985
  • 20: Largest margin of victory for a 12 seed; Eastern Michigan over Mississippi State (76-56)
  • 1. Smallest margin of victory for a 12 seed; 4 instances, first by Ball State over Oregon State (54-53)
  • 7: Number of instances a 12 seed has won in extra time
  • 2: Number of instances a 12 seed has won in double extra time
  • 1: Buzzer-beater wins for 12 seeds: Western Kentucky over Drake (101-99)
  • 21: 12 seeds to achieve the Sweet 16
  • 1: 12 seeds to achieve the Elite Eight

Has a 12 seed ever won March Madness?

No, a 12 seed has by no means won the NCAA Tournament, however you need to maintain the concept in the “not very likely but not impossible” class. Remember, there have been a number of 11 seeds to crash the Final Four, and loopy issues can occur in a 40-minute basketball sport.

Of the 21 12 seeds to achieve the Sweet 16, solely the 2002 Missouri Tigers truly won that Sweet 16 contest to advance to the Elite Eight. That was a proficient however inconsistent group headlined by Kareem Rush, the junior with the graceful left-handed shot, with sophomores Rickey Paulding and Arthur Johnson and shot-happy senior Clarence Gilbert.

The Tigers knocked off Miami (Fla.) in the opener, then cruised previous 4-seed Ohio State by 16 in the second spherical. Instead of dealing with the No. 1 seed in the Sweet 16, they performed No. 8 UCLA; the Bruins had upended Cincinnati in double extra time. Mizzou cruised previous UCLA, too, profitable 82-73. In the Elite Eight sport in opposition to No. 2 Oklahoma — a Big 12 rival that was 34-5 getting into the sport and had crushed the Tigers by 13 factors in their lone regular-season matchup — Mizzou hung powerful regardless of foul bother and Gilbert’s taking pictures woes (he completed the sport 1-for-16 from the sphere).

The Tigers reduce Oklahoma’s result in three factors at 70-67 with below three minutes left, however by no means received any nearer in an 81-75 loss.

MORE: March Madness Cinderella players we’ll never forget

Lowest seed to win the NCAA Tournament

Since the event expanded to 64 groups in 1985, we’ve seen 5 double-digit seeds attain the Final Four:

  • 11 seed LSU in 1986
  • 11 seed George Mason in 2006
  • 11 seed VCU in 2011
  • 10 seed Syracuse in 2016
  • 11 seed Loyola Chicago in 2018

All 4 misplaced earlier than reaching the title sport. Only 4 groups seeded decrease than the No. 3 seed line have ever won the nationwide title: one 4 seed (Arizona in 1997), one 6 seed (Kansas in 1988), one seven seed (UConn in 2014) and one 8 seed (Villanova in 1985). No 5 seed has ever won. The Villanova story is the stuff of legend; a plucky, methodical 8 seed that reached the title sport by grinding out a sequence of slender wins (three by three factors or fewer) and dealing with off in opposition to the may Georgetown Hoyas in the championship sport.


It’s thought of by some as the most important upset in NCAA Tournament historical past. But right here’s the factor: It makes for an awesome David and Goliath story, however Villanova was fairly darn good. In the 1985 and 1986 NBA Drafts, three starters from that 1985 group went in the highest 30 picks (Ed Pinckney at 10 and Dwayne McClain at 27 in 1985 and Harold Pressley at 17 in 1986; Gary McLain went in the seventh spherical in 1985). Factor in that Villanova had already performed Georgetown powerful TWICE that 12 months — losses by solely two factors and 7 factors — and, sorry, it would not make for a top-five all-time upset.

It does, although, make for a fairly cool championship story.



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