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The 12 v 5 Upset

March 24, 2013 - Al Stephenson
As is usually the case, the NCAA men's basketball tournament featured some upsets. Harvard beating New Mexico certainly qualifies. Florida Gulf Coast beating Georgetown is another upset. When a #14 beats a #3 and a #15 beats a #2 (FGCU becomes the seventh #15 to win) upset is the appropriate term. If you are looking for a cinderella, I would suggest Florida Gulf Coast as they have just knocked off San Diego State to become the first #15 seed to make the Sweet Sixteen.

I want to talk about the most common "upset" which is a #12 taking down a #5. It happens every year and did this time as well. As a matter of fact it happened three times this year, which makes one wonder if it is an upset at all. I'm here to tell you that I don't think it is an upset. Here's why.

In any given year the top two, three or even four seeds in each region are, on paper, significantly better than the other fourteen teams that have been grouped with them. It is also very likely that the last one, two, three or even four teams seeded 13th thru 16th are significantly worse, again on paper, than the other 14. The beauty of the tournament is that the games are actually played and on any given night...

The teams in the middle (5th thru 12th seeds) are very similar in abilities. In fact I think the committee could take the names of those eight teams, put them in a hat and randomly draw for seeds. The first one pulled out is #5, the second #6 and so on. Perhaps that is what the committee did this year. Come on, Oregon a #12 seed?

The view from my seat suggests that it's time to quit calling #12 seeds winning against #5 seeds upsets. They really aren't. It's one pretty darn good team beating another pretty darn good team. That's it. No more, no less. The term upset has been overused.

By the way can you tell me the name of the horse that upset ManO'War, giving the legendary thoroughbred his only defeat?

 
 

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