Tuesday, October 9, 2012

History of the 5 vs. 12 Matchup

When the NCAA Tournament selection show was announced, Notre Dame didn't have much time to fill in their brackets. Within the first few pairings, the Irish were handed a #5 seed against the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament Champs, #12 seed George Mason. Yes, the dreaded 5 vs. 12 matchup that everyone and their mother wants to avoid come March. But for the Irish, is it really that bad?

The media pundits are convinced that George Mason will beat the Irish. In fact the Patriots are the "sexy" pick of the tournament. I guess going 14-4 in one of the toughest conferences in the country doesn't prepare you for the Big Dance. How about having one of the best big men in the country? Or two 3pt. shooters that can drain their shot over 40% of the time? Notre Dame is definitely going to need the Luck of the Irish to win, right?

Well luck has it, Notre Dame has reached the Sweet 16 both times the Irish were a #5 seed. The last time, 2003, Notre Dame escaped the first round beating Bruce Pearl's Wisconsin-Milwaukee squad on a last second tip in goal by Torin Francis at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. The Irish then went on to beat the 4th seed Illinois en route to their Sweet 16 appearance against top seeded Arizona. Overall the Irish are 4-2 in the #5 slot, winning both the first and second round games.

History is still on the Irish's side. Since the field expanded to 64 teams, the #12 seed team has won 29 times out of the 92 games vs. #5's. That's the same percentage as the 6 vs. 11 during that same stretch of time, while the 4 vs. 13 matchup is not too far behind (18 wins).

As for the CAA's history of the NCAA Tournament, George Mason has made the biggest splash when they squeezed into Cinderella's slipper all the way to the 2006 Final Four. Here is a breakdown of the CAA's tournament history:

9-18 (33%) First Round
3-6 (33%) Second Round
2-1 (66%) Sweet 16
1-1 (50%) Elite 8
0-1 (0%) Final Four

Maybe you should look elsewhere for that 5 vs. 12 upset this year!

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