JIM O’CONNELL, AP Basketball Writer
The 12 seeds had a down year in the NCAA Tournament’s opening round.
The pairing that has become famous — or infamous — for first-round upsets yielded just one win for 12-seeds in four games on Thursday.
Since 2007, the 12s have won 50 of 152 games against No. 5s, with 2015 the only year since then a 12 didn’t advance. That’s an average of 1.5 a year.
Middle Tennessee State was the 12 this year that broke up many a bracket. The Blue Raiders beat Minnesota 81-72 to advance to the second round.
The 12s almost had a couple of other success stories as Princeton fell 60-58 to Notre Dame and UNC-Wilmington lost 76-71 to Virginia after leading by as many as 15 points. The fourth No. 12, Nevada, was handled by Iowa State, 84-73.
Jordan Murphy of Minnesota was asked if he felt the Blue Raiders were a No. 12 seed.
“All in all, they determine seeding,” he said of the selection committee. “Whether they’re a 12 seed or any number of seed, I don’t really know how to answer that question. So, I mean, they’re a really good team to their credit.”
The Las Vegas oddsmakers made Middle Tennessee State a favorite against the Golden Gophers.
Middle Tennessee coach Kermit Davis, who led the Blue Raiders to a win over second-seeded Michigan State last season, didn’t think the win over the Gophers should be considered an upset.
“We have a lot of respect for Minnesota. Our record speaks for itself and kind of what we’ve done all year long,” Davis said. “It’s about a pick ’em game, and it was a good team but I know our players don’t think it was an upset by any means.”
Princeton had a chance for a 12-5 upset on its final possession.
After Notre Dame’s Matt Farrell missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with a 59-58 lead, Devin Cannady missed an open 3-pointer and Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia pulled down the rebound and was fouled.
“We gave everybody a show, right?” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “We escaped. We’ve been in a lot of games like that where game situations need a big defensive stop. We’ve been there. I’m proud we’re still alive.”
In the previous five years, half of the 12 seeds (10 of 20) have bounced No. 5 seeds.
But London Perrantes of Virginia didn’t let it happen again.
“I think we had the last run,” Perrantes said. “The point guard made some big shots with a hand in his face. Everybody seemed to have made shots. So I kind of just knew that, hopefully, they were going to start missing and we were going to start making them.”
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