March Madness betting is heating up, so which No. 12 seed will upset a No. 5 seed in the 2019 men’s college basketball tournament? Liberty, Murray State, Oregon, and New Mexico State were all awarded #12 seeds, but they each face a difficult match up this year.

Auburn Tigers Basketball
Auburn Tigers guards J’Von McCormmick (12) and Bryce Brown (2) celebrate after defeating Tennessee in the SEC tournament in Nashville, TN. (Image: Christopher Hanewinckel/USA Today Sports)

Picking a #12 to beat a #5 is a popular upset pick in March Madness. Since March Madness expanded to 64 teams in 1985, 47 upsets occurred thanks to the #12 seed.

Overall, #5 seeds are only 89-47 in the tournament since then. That means a #12 seed wins approximately 35 percent of the time. Since 2012, the #12 seeds went 11-17 for a 39 percent winning clip.

Liberty (12) vs. Mississippi State (5)
Oregon (12) vs. Wisconsin (5)
Murray State (12) vs. Marquette (5)
New Mexico State (12) vs. Auburn (5)

Last season was an off year for the 12 vs. 5 upset because all of the #5 seeds won their games. That rare occurrence happened only four other times since 1985.

Marquette is tumbling into the postseason, and they might be the team most-vulnerable to an upset. Plus, they have to face potential lottery pick with Ja Morant from Murray State.

East: #12 Liberty vs. #5 Mississippi State

The Liberty Flames (28-6) won the Atlantic Sun conference tournament by edging out rival Lipscomb in the ASUN tournament. They have yet to win a March Madness game in three other appearances.

Liberty boasts the sixth-best defense in the nation. Their smothering defense allows only 60.8 points per game. They held opponents under 55 points on 12 occasions this year.

Scottie James, a 6-foot-8 junior, leads the Flames with 13.1 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. He hits an efficient 67.6 percent of his shots, but he’s only a 33 percent shooter from downtown.

The Mississippi State Bulldogs (23-10) finished with 13-2 record outside of the SEC. They lost to Kentucky twice and Tennessee twice, but beat Auburn, Wofford, and St. Mary’s. Senior guard Quinndary Weatherspoon leads the Bulldogs in scoring with 18.2 points per game. In four seasons, he fell short of 2,000 points by just 15.

The Liberty Flames are riding a five-game winning streak and won 10 out of their last 11 games. Mississippi State opened as a 7-point favorite. According to Ken Pomeroy’s ratings, Mississippi State is ranked #21 and Liberty is #63.

South: #12 Oregon vs. #5 Wisconsin

Big Ten vs. Pac-12. This a battle of two amazing defenses. The Wisconsin Badgers have the ninth-best defense in the nation allowing only 61.4 points per game. Oregon is #17 overall allowing 62.9 points per game, but they have shut down teams recently. During their current eight-game winning streak, the stingy Ducks allowed 51 or fewer points in five games.

Oregon (23-12) snuck into the tournament by running the table in the Pac-12 tournament. Give the Ducks credit. They won four games in four days and beat Washington to earn their bid to March Madness. They were the third team to make it, which was a bit surprising because most of the season it appeared as though only one team from a weak Pac-12 would advance to the tournament.

Wisconsin (23-10), ranked #21 in the latest AP Poll, made waves early in the Big Ten season when they snapped Michigan’s 17-game winning streak to start the season. Ethan Happ, a 6-foot-10 senior forward, is one of the players who can bring it at both ends of the court. Happ is the top Badger and leads the team in scoring (17.5 ppg), rebounding (10.8) and assists (5.6).

This is essentially a coin flip game. The Oregon Ducks are currently a one-point underdog against Wisconsin. According to Ken Pomeroy’s ratings, Wisconsin is ranked #12 and Oregon is #43.

West: #12 Murray State vs. #5 Marquette

Basketball fans will be treated to Ja Morant, who is the best player in the country that is not from Duke. Hopefully Murray State (27-4) can win this game so fans will be treated to multiple Morant games. The sophomore led the Racers to an Ohio Valley conference tournament title. He hit a game-winning bucket to put the Racers into the OVC finals against Belmont.

Morant, a 6-foot-3 sophomore guard, leads the team with 24.6 points and 10.0 assists per game. He also his 50.6 percent of his shots.

Marquette (24-9) finished second in the Big East this year. They were 23-5 and in the Top 15 before they hit a losing streak and lost several close games. The Golden Eagles looked like pewter pigeons when they dropped five out of the last six games. Marquette’s best player is Markus Howard, a 5-foot-11 junior guard, who averages 24 points per game.

Murray State is riding high on an 11-game winning streak. They are 4.5-point underdogs against Marquette. According to Ken Pomeroy’s ratings, Marquette is ranked #27 and Murray State is #52. Marquette has quality wins over Kansas State, Wisconsin, Buffalo, and Villanova.

Midwest: #12 New Mexico State vs. #5 Auburn

The selection committee has no love for the WAC. New Mexico State (30-4) should be better than a #12 seed, but they got matched up against Auburn, who is one of the hottest teams in the country and fresh off a massive win the SEC tournament.

New Mexico State won 19 games in a row. They lost only one game in the WAC and four games all season. The Aggies have losses against St. Mary’s, Drake, California Baptist, and Kansas when they were #2 in the country.

The Aggies are a tough-nosed defensive squad that will come at you with a relentless all-out press. Their well-oiled team runs a 11-deep. Head coach Chris Jans relies on a heavy troop rotation to keep fresh legs on the court.

The Auburn Tigers (26-9) won eight in a row including a SEC tournament upset over Tennessee. The Tigers mauled the Vols and blew them out by 20 points, which turned a lot of heads. The Tigers finished the season on the ultimate high note. Auburn beat Tennessee twice this season with additional big wins over Washington and Mississippi State. They fell to Kentucky twice plus notable losses Duke and LSU.

According to Ken Pomeroy’s ratings, Auburn is ranked #13 and New Mexico State is #49. Auburn opened as a 7-point favorite.

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