March Madness and the NCAA Tournament are unquestionably the peak time for college basketball betting. In our first NCAA Bracketology preview, we told you about our weekly free newsletter and annual Bracketology article, which will become available on March 15th. In our second blog, we discussed how certain seeds (2 through 4) fare in the opening round. Now, we move to the more “upset-minded” matchups of 5 vs. 12 and 6 vs. 11.
The 2007 Tournament saw all four five seeds advance to the second round, but that has been the exception to the rule as 20 of the previous 22 tournaments have seen at least one 12 seed upset a 5. Last year, it was Cornell over Temple, which we correctly predicted. The year before, there were three 12’s that pulled the upset and overall there have been 35 upsets since the field was expanded in 1985. It is interesting to note that two 5 seeds last year – Butler and Michigan State – made it all the way to the Final Four.
For years, it has been noted that six seeds actually outperformed their fifth seeded counterparts. However, here too, we are seeing a litany of upsets. Over the last five tournaments, eight 11’s have beaten a 6 (against 12 losses). Last year, a pair of 11’s – Washington and Old Dominion (we called the latter) – advanced, meaning there have been 33 upsets all-time, nearly matching what we have seen from the 5 vs. 12 matchup. Like the 5 seeds last year, it is interesting to note that both six seeds that made it out of the first round won at least two games.
So, it’s obvious that you have to pick some upsets here. What should you be looking for? Well for starters, there is something new this year that we discussed in Part 1. The addition of extra ‘play-in’ games means that two of the 12-seeds could be at a distinct disadvantage in this year’s tournament. We’ll probably be looking to take the 5 seeds that draw a team that has already played its way into the field of 64. Mid-majors as 12 seeds are usually popular picks. On the flip side, when you have a 12 seed from a ‘power six’ conference and they are matched up against a 5-seed from a mid-major, there tend to be “upsets” as well.
As for the 6-11 matchup, a lot of these picks are simply gut feelings. Typically, of the six seeds that do win a 1st round game, at least one is going to win twice. So, basically take a look at the four six seeds and go-against the ones that look weakest to you. It’s also in your best interest to do your homework on the individual teams and matchups!