When looking for possible upsets to pencil in the bracket, there are multiple sets of metrics to sort through. I prefer the KenPom offensive and defensive efficiency rankings when making the decision on what upsets are most likely. Of course, this tournament is so unpredictable and that’s what makes it fantastic. I have compiled data on the 12-15 seed upsets for the last 6 years to give you a little more information to find Cinderella.
(Note: O-EF is offensive efficiency, D-EF is defensive efficiency, DOG is the underdog’s added rankings, and FAV is the favorite’s added rankings).
|12 Richmond||36||59||5 Vandy||12||129||95||141|
|13 Morehead St||117||73||4 Louisville||55||3||190||58|
|12 VCU||102||19||5 Wichita St||14||31||121||45|
|12 S. Florida||169||4||5 Temple||27||104||173||130|
|13 Ohio||88||40||4 Michigan||19||61||128||80|
|15 Lehigh||71||102||2 Duke||10||81||173||91|
|15 Norfolk St||181||177||2 Missouri||1||146||358||147|
|12 Oregon||94||10||5 Okla State||68||15||104||83|
|12 Ole Miss||31||63||5 Wisconsin||108||1||94||109|
|12 Cal||100||38||5 UNLV||135||11||138||146|
|13 LaSalle||36||99||4 Kansas St||15||56||135||71|
|14 Harvard||73||145||3 New Mexico||53||18||218||71|
|15 FGCU||104||109||2 G’Town||78||2||213||80|
|12 Harvard||47||34||5 Cincinnati||110||8||81||118|
|12 SF Austin||38||102||5 VCU||107||6||140||113|
|12 NDSU||29||131||5 Oklahoma||16||91||160||107|
|14 Mercer||76||119||3 Duke||2||116||195||118|
|14 Georgia St||56||102||3 Baylor||13||32||158||45|
|14 UAB||129||128||3 Iowa State||7||82||257||89|
|12 Yale||92||21||5 Baylor||13||72||113||85|
|12 UALR||85||35||5 Purdue||21||18||120||39|
|13 Hawaii||105||41||4 California||47||15||146||62|
|14 SF Austin||65||29||3 WVU||23||6||94||29|
|15 MTSU||197||71||2 Michigan St||2||19||268||21|
After a quiet 2015, the mid-majors did some damage in 2016. The four strongest teams on the 12-15 line in 2016 all won: S.F. Austin (the strongest as a 14 seed), UALR, Yale, Hawaii.
Let’s look at some trends since 2011:
*There have been 24 such upsets in the last six years…so pick at least 4 in your bracket if you want to live a little.
*Prior to 2016, 17 of 19 upsets included teams with an offensive or defensive efficiency outside of the Top 50. In 2016, 4 of the 5 teams who lost to 12-15 seeds were in the Top 50 in both.
*Of the 24 upsets, 21 of the teams had a combined ranking of 225 or less. 15 seed MTSU was one of the three outliers in 2016.
*Only three of the upsets featured lower-seeded teams with an offensive or defensive efficiency ranking outside the Top 150, including MTSU last year.
*Since 2011: 12 seeds are 11-13; 13 seeds are 4-20; 14 seeds are 5-19; 15 seeds are 4-20.
*All five teams that won last year were more efficient on defense than offense.
2017 Efficiency Ratings
|12 UNCW||18||189||5 Virginia||38||1||207||39|
|12 Princeton||84||46||5 Notre Dame||16||58||130||74|
|12 Nevada||34||101||5 Iowa St||13||43||135||56|
|12 MTSU||55||47||5 Minnesota||81||18||102||99|
|13 ETSU||109||44||4 Florida||31||4||153||35|
|13 Bucknell||87||88||4 WVU||28||5||175||33|
|13 Vermont||61||66||4 Purdue||24||16||127||40|
|13 Winthrop||138||110||4 Butler||17||49||248||66|
|14 NMSU||71||134||3 Baylor||22||14||205||36|
|14 FGCU||82||172||3 FSU||25||24||254||49|
|14 Iona||69||202||3 Oregon||19||22||271||41|
|14 Kent St||169||131||3 UCLA||3||78||300||81|
|15 Troy||74||225||2 Duke||6||39||299||45|
|15 N. Dakota||200||149||2 Arizona||20||28||349||48|
|15 Jax State||153||177||2 Louisville||23||6||330||29|
|15 N. Kentucky||134||186||2 Kentucky||14||9||320||23|
High Seeds At Risk
Only two matchups feature higher seeds with at least one sub Top 50 efficiency rating and lower seeds with a combined ranking of 225 or less.
12 Princeton vs 5 Notre Dame
12 MTSU vs 5 Minnesota
The strongest overall teams in the 12-15 seed range include: 1) MTSU, 2) Vermont, 3) Princeton, 4) Nevada. The 14-15 seeds are pretty bad.
Most Likely Upsets
12 MTSU vs 5 Minnesota
The Blue Raiders are a popular upset pick…and for good reason. Williams, Potts and Upshaw are a heck of a trio. Vegas agrees, as Minnesota opened as a favorite of the slimmest of margins (-1).
13 Vermont vs 4 Purdue
This is the only 4/13 matchup with a spread in the single digits (Purdue -8.5). Purdue has been shaky lately and is prone to the turnover. Vermont has won 21 straight games. Has all the makings, but can they really stop Biggie Swanigan?
I wish Gus Johnson would come out and hit one of the CBS play-by-play guys with a chair and just commandeer the broadcast. Who could forget his call of the Vermont win over Syracuse…
12 Princeton vs 5 Notre Dame
Princeton is another hot team, having gone undefeated in conference like the Catamounts and winners of 19 straight. This game features the second lowest difference in combined efficiency (ND +56). Could be a tight one…and make me want to punch a wall.
14 New Mexico State vs. 3 Baylor
Of the brutal 14-15 seeds this year, the Aggies are the only team with a combined efficiency under 225. Plus, Baylor isn’t exactly playing well coming into the tourney going 5-6 down the stretch after a 20-1 start. Unlikely, but there’s a chance.
12 UNC Wilmington vs. 5 Virginia
I put this on here because UNCW can really score, while Virginia has serious difficulty scoring. This is a very popular upset pick, but I think Virginia covers the 8.5.