For the first time since 2007, not one No. 12 seed knocked off a No. 5 seed on the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament.
The 12-5 matchup is always one to watch for an upset on a yearly basis. Just last year, three of the four No. 12 seeds were victorious over their higher-ranked opponents. This year was a different story.
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The fate of the 2015 No. 12 seeds became official when West Virginia outlasted pesky Buffalo in the Midwest Region. West Virginia led for most of the game, but the Bulls hung around by forcing 12 Mountaineer turnovers. Fortunately for WVU, star guard Juwan Staten returned from injury and put up 15 points and seven assists in a 68-62 win.
Things weren’t as close for No. 12 Wyoming in its East Region contest with fifth-seeded Northern Iowa. The Panthers had five guys in double-figures, shot 50 percent from three and 46 percent from the field in a commanding 71-54 win.
Things started slowly for the 12 seeds on Thursday when Utah muscled its way past a resilient Stephen F. Austin squad, 57-50, behind a huge effort from freshman center Jakob Poeltl. The 7-footer was a perfect 7-for-7 from the field and led the Utes with 18 points, eight rebounds and five blocks. Every time the Lumberjacks, who notched a 12-5 upset over VCU last year, looked primed to take a lead, Poeltl would make a huge play on the inside to help the Utes move on in the South.
Much like Stephen F. Austin, 12th-seeded Wofford scratched and clawed with Arkansas in the West. The Terriers even had two open threes in the game’s final seconds to potentially send the game to overtime, but both rimmed out.
This year seems to be somewhat of an anomaly. Only three times since 1985 has there been an NCAA tournament without a 12-5 upset – 1988, 2000, and 2007.
Just because the usual 12-5 upsets didn’t pan out this year doesn’t mean there aren’t a few Cinderella candidates. We’ve already seen two No. 14 seeds – Georgia State and UAB – knock down heavy favorites in Baylor and Iowa State. Maybe the 14-3 matchup is the new 12-5?
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