Commentary

No 12-5 upsets this tourney

Why Temple, Vandy, Wichita St. and New Mexico will escape first game

Updated: March 13, 2012, 12:40 PM ET
By John Gasaway | ESPN Insider
VanderbiltDon McPeak/US PresswireThis season's Vanderbilt squad should be able to advance past Harvard in the round of 64.

Everywhere I look I see proof that my country has the correct priorities. For one thing, President Obama will attend tonight's games in Dayton along with British Prime Minister David Cameron. (Love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation. I cover this stuff for a living and even I find the whole notion of this opening round a bit abstruse. Imagine trying to explain this stuff to one of our friends from across the pond.)

However, in 2012 even the most casual "three-week" college basketball fans know about the 12-5 upset. Every year a plucky small-school 12-seed with weird uniforms shocks a talented but lethargic and underachieving 5 from a major conference. It's the circle of hoops life, right?

Well, sort of. Last year, Vanderbilt obligingly supplied the only 12-5 upset when it lost to Richmond. The Golden Age of this particular brand of upset, however, was clearly 2009, when the feisty 12s went 3-1 against the poor, overmatched 5s. That year, Arizona beat Utah, Wisconsin beat Florida State and Western Kentucky beat Illinois. (Yes, young people, there was once a time when Utah and Illinois had basketball teams capable of making the NCAA tournament. Take my word for it.)

You have to go all the way back to 2007 to find the last NCAA tournament in which there wasn't at least one 12-5 upset. So, yes, there's good reason to expect that one of these "unexpected" outcomes will indeed occur this week.

But I'm going to crawl way out on a limb and put my money on the truly unexpected: I think the No. 5 seeds this year will go 4-0. I predict that New Mexico will beat Long Beach State, Vanderbilt will triumph over Harvard, Wichita State will take care of Virginia Commonwealth and Temple will prevail over either California or South Florida.


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