Most Likely 5-12 Upsets for March Madness

There has been at least one 5-12 upset in 7 out of the last 8 years of the NCAA tournament.

The year there were none? Last year. That’s no fun, especially when there were three in 2014 and 2015, each. Three!

If that trend continues, that spells some worry for this year’s 5 seeds: Maryland, Indiana, Baylor and Purdue.

March Madness means that you usually have to pick at least one 5 seed to fall in the first round, but which will it be?

Well I have a solution. If you listened to my first ever Leborts Report podcast, you will know that I have been working on a LRelo rating for basketball teams and decided to apply it to the college teams in the playoffs. Essentially, it will tell me which teams play the best on the court – similar to the Player Efficiency Rating in the NBA.

If we populate all of the team stats into my LRelo rating system, we can generate a random number to predict the winner based on their win percentage. Using excel, I generated 10,000 simulations.

Here are the results

  • The #5 seeds all have a 9.3% chance of advancing without any upsets.
  • The most likely upset includes Yale over Baylor, which resulted in 8.5% of my 10,000 simulations.
  • The second most likely upset includes both South Dakota State over Maryland and Chattanooga over Indiana at 7.6% of my simulations.
Outcomes Count of Winner Percentage
Maryland, Baylor, Purdue, Indiana 929 9.3%
Maryland, Yale, Purdue, Indiana 845 8.5%
South Dakota State, Baylor, Purdue, Indiana 764 7.6%
Maryland, Baylor, Purdue, Chattanooga 759 7.6%
Maryland, Baylor, Arkansas-Little Rock, Indiana 727 7.3%
Maryland, Yale, Purdue, Chattanooga 661 6.6%
South Dakota State, Yale, Purdue, Indiana 642 6.4%
South Dakota State, Baylor, Arkansas-Little Rock, Indiana 622 6.2%
Maryland, Yale, Arkansas-Little Rock, Indiana 605 6.1%
South Dakota State, Baylor, Purdue, Chattanooga 593 5.9%
Maryland, Baylor, Arkansas-Little Rock, Chattanooga 590 5.9%
South Dakota State, Yale, Purdue, Chattanooga 496 5.0%
South Dakota State, Yale, Arkansas-Little Rock, Indiana 471 4.7%
Maryland, Yale, Arkansas-Little Rock, Chattanooga 469 4.7%
South Dakota State, Baylor, Arkansas-Little Rock, Chattanooga 449 4.5%
South Dakota State, Yale, Arkansas-Little Rock, Chattanooga 378 3.8%

Based on another analysis I did in 2014, the 5-12 match-ups result in a 32% upset probability. That means I need to pick at least one and possibly two 12 seeds to advance.

Looks like this year, based on my stats, I’ll be picking Yale and South Dakota State to upset.


Matt Strobel writes for the Leborts Report.  If you liked the article, follow us on Twitter or Facebook, @LebortsReport.

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