The 5 vs. 12 matchup represents the premier focal point for most March Madness bettors filling out brackets. It is not a matter of if you will bet on an underdog here, but rather, which 12-seed will you choose and how many. In fact, only three times in the last 19 years have the 5-seeds shut out the 12-seeds in the first round.
The History of 12-seeds
Over the past decade, the underdogs in this matchup are 26-16-2 against the spread, and on 19 occasions, the 12-seed has won the game straight up. Year after year, the 12-seeds in the NCAA Tournament continue to put up a tremendous fight, boasting a 13-9-2 combined record against the spread over the past six seasons.
Oddly enough, 2015 saw a tournament that featured zero 12-seeds advances to the second round; however, In 2016, Yale upset Baylor and Little Rock upset Purdue to continue the trend. Then, in 2017, Middle Tennessee State defeated Minnesota. In fact, 12-seeds have been so successful in past tournaments that Middle Tennessee closed as betting favorites heading into that matchup. With that being said, 2018 was another year of no 12-over-5 upsets.
The most dominant 12-over-5 upset belongs to Eastern Michigan, who defeated Mississippi State 76-56 in 1991.
Despite overwhelming success in the first round, 12-seeds do not find themselves advancing deep in the tournament. Only one team (2002 Missouri) has made it as far as the Elite Eight, so avoid diving head first into the 5 vs. 12 craze.
On the other hand, 12 of the 48 teams that have completed the infamous 5 vs. 12 upset since the field was expanded to 64 teams in 1985 have gone on to win a second game and advance to the Sweet 16. At a success rate of 25%, it might be worth exploring the possibility of pushing your first round upset into the second weekend. Although they might not be a Cinderella, double-digit seeds in the Sweet 16 always provide one hell of a story.