Tips for betting the 12-5 Matchups in the 2021 NCAA Tournament

The most talked about March Madness matchups are always the #12 vs. the #5 seeds. We look at the four games first round games in search of at least one winning underdog.

Betting tips for all four 12/5 matchups

Part of the excitement in the NCAA tournament each year are the upsets, the chance that any team can beat any team during any round. It's part of what adds the "Madness" to March college basketball. And the biggest upset maker of them all comes during the first round of the tournament - the matchup between teams seeded #5 and teams in the #12 spot. If you are looking for a bracket buster win, the 12/5 matchup might be the best place to start.

There have been 50 upsets by 12-seeds since the NCAA tournament field expanded in 1985, yielding a 35.71 win percentage. But in the last tournament, way back in 2019, three 12 seeds (Liberty, Oregon and Murray State), and 13 seed UC Irvine won in the first round. Incredibly, only five times in the past 35 years has the #5 seed won all four matchups. 

So we will take a look at the matchups in the 2021 NCAA Tournament between the five and 12 seeds, with an eye on finding the one or two underdogs that have the best chance of cashing. Well rate each matchup and chance for an underdog win on a scale of one to five surprised face emojis. 

#12 UC-Santa Barbara Gauchos (21-4) at #5 Creighton Bluejays (20-8)
When: Saturday, March 20, 2021 at 3:30 pm
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium)
Betting Line: Creighton Bluejays (-8)
Betting Total: Over/Under: 140.5

Creighton UCSB betting tipsThe Gauchos won the Big West title and received an automatic bid. They won nine of their last 10 games and can fill it up, putting up more than 100 twice this season. UC-Santa Barbara were undefeated at home and went 3-0 on neutral courts. But in reality, the Big West teams were especially weak this season and one of those huge scoring games was against Bethesda. 

The Creighton Bluejays picked up the #5 seed out West by winning seven of their last 10 games and going 20-8 on the season . . . in the Big East. They crushed Butler and squeaked by a very good UConn team, before losing to a Georgetown team (see below) on a magical run in the Big East tournament. Creighton shoots better than 36% from the field and has the offensive weapons to blow out any team. They were a top 20 team for the entire season and frankly, didn't take G-Town seriously and didn't show up for the Big East final. That won't happen here in the Big Dance, at least not in the first round.

Chance for the Upset:

#12 Georgetown Hoyas (13-12) at #5 Colorado Buffaloes (22-8)
When: Saturday, March 20, 2021 at 12:15 pm (
Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse
Betting Line: Colorado Buffaloes -5
Betting Total: Over/Under: 138.5

The Hoyas got on a magical run in the Big East Tournament to receive the automatic bid, otherwise, they would be at home on their respective couches. This team ended the regular season with a 9-12 record. They went just 3-6 against top 25 teams and had a losing record vs. the top 50. Basically, winning the Big East was Colorado Georgetown betting tipstheir championship, especially after defeating an undermanned Villanova team (see below) on the road to the final game. 

The Buffaloes had a 14-6 mark in the Pac-12, including four straight wins to finish the year, defeated USC in the Pac-12 semifinal and lost to Oregon State (see below) in a great tourney final. With their resume, Colorado was a consensus pick to make the field of 64. They feature an electric player in senior guard, McKinley Wright IV, who leads the team in scoring and assists with 15.5 PPG and 5.6 APG, while also grabbing 4.3 RPG. The Buffaloes are no joke and even the ghost of John Thompson can't help the Hoyas in this first round matchup.

Chance for the Upset:

#12 Winthrop Eagles (23-1) at #5 Villanova Wildcats (16-6)
When: Friday, March 19, 2021 at 9:57 pm
Where: Indiana Farmers Coliseum
Betting Line: Villanova Wildcats -6.5
Betting Total: Over/Under: 138.5

Winthrop is a name that is familiar to March Madness bettors as they have made the Big Dance 10 times by winning the Big South. They also know how to win, with just one loss this season, but their strength of schedule in 2021 was a dismal 309th. The Eagles feature redshirt senior guard Chandler Vaudrin, who is a triple-double threat averaging 12.2 PPG, 7.2 RPG & 6.9 APG. 

Villanova Wildcats Winthrop Eagles oddsDespite several COVID-related problems, Villanova was the class of the Big East all season. Well the Wildcats were rolling, until star point guard Collin Gillespie tore his MCL, causing them to lose their last two games, including the Big East tournament. But they have one of the best coaches in the NCAA in, Coach of the 2010s Decade, Jay Wright. Given nearly a week to prepare, it is scary to bet against a coach who has won two of the last four NCAA Tournaments.

But this is a tough matchup for the Wildcats. Winthrop was 11th in total rebounds per game this past season, while 'Nova was 231st in the nation in rebounding. If the 'Cats can't hit from 3, the Eagles may have a shot. This would be a good 5-12 game to look at the 'Dog and the points.

Chance for the Upset:

#12 Oregon State Beavers (17-12) at #5 Tennessee Volunteers (18-8)
When: Friday, March 19, 2021 at 4:30 pm
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse)
Betting Line: Tennessee Volunteers -8.5
Betting Total: Over/Under: 135.5

Oregon State Tennessee handicapping adviceOregon State is one of those scary tourney teams who has just been on fire, going 6-1 in their last seven with wins over UCLA, Oregon and Colorado in their last three outings en route to the Pac-12 title. Without that conference championship, they may have been a last four in/out team. They are now 10-1 ATS in their last 11 games. Guard play is key in the NCAA tournament and the Beavers have two good ones in guards Ethan Thompson and Jarod Lucas as well as huge momentum and confidence right now.

Tennessee started the season on a 10-1 run before a 2-3 stretch in early February started the ship taking on water a bit. Since then they have played .500 basketball, while going 5-9-1 ATS down the stretch. In the SEC Tourney, they choked tough vs. eventual champ Alabama, coughing up a 15 point lead to lose 73-68. In addition, workhorse forward John Fulkerson underwent a surgical procedure Sunday morning for facial injuries that occurred on Friday's SEC tourney game vs. Florida. Doctors are evaluating Fulkerson daily, but his status remains questionable.

Chance for the Upset:

Bettors should keep in mind that 12 seeds upset #5 seeds roughly one out of three games. Though the pundits may look at these 12-5 matchups and tout that any one of the four or ALL of the four dogs could win outright, the smart play is to find one or even two to focus on. 

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