Gonzaga v Saint Mary's
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The No. 5 vs. No. 12 matchups in the NCAA Tournament have become a hotbed for upsets. This is because the pairings often feature a middling Power 5 program pitted against a surging mid-major team, and the latter often prevails.

Since 1985, No. 12 seeds have gone 53-99 for a .349 winning percentage. In that stretch, all four No. 5 seeds moved on in the same tournament just six times, thought it happened just last year with San Diego State, Miami, Duke and Saint Mary's moving on.

All four No. 12 seeds have never advanced in the same NCAA Tournament, but they've come close. Three No. 12 seeds beat No. 5 seeds in 2013, 2014 and 2019. Moreover, two No. 12 seeds prevailed in 2022.

Here's a look at the 2024 NCAA Tournament No. 5 vs. No. 12 matchups, with rankings for the most likely upsets. 

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12 vs. 5 upset rankings

Ordered from least likely to most likely.

4. McNeese over Gonzaga 

In his previous 24 seasons at the helm of Gonzaga, veteran coach Mark Few's club has been eliminated in the first round just three times, with the last such instance coming in 2008. This has been a down year by Few's lofty standards as the Bulldogs lost seven games and finished runner-up to rival Saint Mary's in both the regular season and conference tournament.

Even so, the Zags rate as a safe bet to get past a 30-win McNeese team that likely would not have heard its named called on Selection Sunday if it hadn't won the Southland tournament. Vagabond coach Will Wade has built a solid team, but the Cowboys have one of the weakest non-conference schedules in the 64-team field. They should hang around for a while, but look for Gonzaga to prevail. 

3. Grand Canyon over Saint Mary's 

The Antelopes are starting to become something of a fixture in the Big Dance, as they will be making their third NCAA Tournament appearance in the past four seasons and have arguably their best team under coach Bryce Drew. They basically bulldozed through a relatively weak WAC slate to the tune of a 17-3 regular season and the conference tournament title. However, they also played a somewhat challenging non-conference schedule and a win over San Diego State is the gem of their resume.

Grand Canyon is deep and has a potential difference maker in versatile forward Tuon Grant-Foster, who could be the best player on the floor. The Gaels started 3-5 but found their stride by closing 18-1 down the stretch to win the West Coast Conference regular season and tournament titles behind the nation's No. 2-ranked defense (58.7 ppg). Coach Randy Bennett's team hasn't been sent packing in the first round in 11 years and they should make it 12. 

2. James Madison over Wisconsin 

The red-hot Dukes, winners of 13 straight, have emerged as a popular pick to spring a first-round upset of Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament and their profile supports this potential result. The Dukes have found a blistering pace from behind the arc that includes going 11 of 19 from distance in their 91-71 win over Arkansas State in the Sun Belt tournament championship game. Their three conference tournament victories came by an average of 14 points. The 30-win club features an experienced and trusted rotation of eight players who average at least 20 minutes per game.

The uneven Badgers have a little more offensive juice than some of their recent clubs, but their inconsistent ways led to a stretch in which they lost seven of nine in the rugged Big Ten. They rallied to reach the conference tournament final before falling 93-87 to Illinois, but this still feels like an awfully generous seed for a team with a limited ceiling and modest resume. 

1. UAB over San Diego State

The Aztecs memorably came out of nowhere last year to reach the national championship game as the only Mountain West team to survive the first round of the NCAA Tournament. But even with Final Four hero Lamont Butler and numerous other key pieces from last year's Cinderella club returning, the Aztecs, who are 4-4 in their last eight, have taken a clear step back. They managed just an 11-7 mark and a fifth-place finish in the conference before falling to New Mexico in the conference tournament final.

The Blazers, on the other hand, are heating up at the right time. They won five straight down the stretch by at least 10 points while rolling to the American tournament title with an 85-69 win over Temple. Coach Andy Kennedy, whose team will be making its second NCAA Tournament appearance in the past four seasons, has a deep and explosive team that is capable of besting San Diego State.