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Looking at the 5-12 matchups

The Classic 5-12 upset. At this point, it’s barely even an upset anymore. Last season, three No. 12 seeds beat a No. 5 seed. Because of the history of the matchup, teams that get that five next to their name just get deflated before the tournament even starts and those No. 12 seeds get an extra boost.

This year, though, it it a little tougher to pick than usual. The No. 4 seeds actually seem to have tougher matchups than the No. 5 seeds. But that doesn’t prevent us from analyzing all four games to search for the upsets.

West Virginia vs. Buffalo

Generally, picking a team that has never been to the big dance before isn’t a very good idea, especially not over a major program with one of the best coaches in the country, but Buffalo is a very tough team with a very tough coach who has inspired his team to success this season.

Bobby Hurley’s emotions play through his team. They fight, they scrap, they are a tough group. This year, they led Kentucky at halftime and played a close game at Wisconsin they have experience against top teams. Their non-conference strength of schedule was in the Top 50 and their Non-Conference RPI was in the top 30.

The Bulls have a very experienced group and two playmakers in Justin Moss, a 6-foot-7 forward who was the MAC Player of the Year and point guard Shannon Evans.

They don’t necessarily have the 3-point shooting ability that most small schools use to propel them to upsets and they aren’t a very accurate team shooting the ball but they are a very, very fast-paced team. They’re fearless and attack, attack, attack.

But that also doesn’t lend itself well to the full-court press the Mountaineers employ. Bob Huggins want to create chaos for the opposing team and force a lot of turnovers and teams that play fast like Buffalo generally turn the ball over a lot.

The downfall of West Virginia would be injuries to Juwan Staten and Gary Brown, their top guards. Staten missed the end of the year with a knee injury and Brown missed time because of an ankle injury. They won’t be 100-percent and that is where the team can be vulnerable.

Outlook: The Mountaineers force way too many turnovers with their press and fast-paced teams turn the ball over a lot as it is. The formula for an upset has been a team capable of controlling the tempo of the game and shooting a ton of three’s to make up for the interior disadvantages. Buffalo has fight and they’re a tough team but they just don’t have those qualities about them.

Northern Iowa vs. Wyoming

It’s always upsetting to see a mid-major in the five-seed because those are the underdogs people want to root for at it is. Now the Panthers will have to rely on Seth Tuttle to be a star to lead them to victory. He’s a sure-fire All-American with tremendous size and very good outside ability. They are incredibly deep and work in as many at 10 players on a regular basis. They also shoot well from 3-point range.

But what they love to do is work the shot clock, move the ball around the court and look for the absolute best shot they can get. And that sounds a lot like Wyoming. If you don’t like slow, methodical basketball, miss this game because Wyoming loves to control the pace of the game and want to take up as much time as possible. It’s let to great defensive efficiency as well.

The way teams have tried to beat either of these teams all season long as been to speed them up but these two teams will play to their opponents strength and slow the game down. It’ll be an interesting battle.

Wyoming moves the ball incredibly well, get assists on over 60-percent of their baskets and are very, very accurate, which shows their ability to wait for the perfect shot. They also don’t foul very much and allow free points.

Larry Nance is a big senior capable of dominating inside and Josh Adams just doesn’t turn the ball over a whole lot.

Wyoming stole a bid to the tournament by slowing down a red-hot shooting Boise State team and then out-lasting a very tough San Diego State defense.

Outlook: As good as Northern Iowa is, it’s hard to argue against what Wyoming has done against the best teams in the Mountain West. They’ve proven they can slow down good offenses and they’ve proven they can beat even the best defenses and in both games they completely controlled the game. The slower the game goes the better it bodes for the Cowboys.

Utah vs. Stephen F. Austin

The Lumberjacks did it last year and there is plenty of reason to believe they can do it again. They still have a lot of their guys back and they know they can win. They have a fairly deep team that shares the ball well. They force turnovers, play aggressive defense and will make some threes.

Stephen F. Austin won’t sneak up on anybody this year because they did it last year but they still have a tough pressure defense and one of the most efficient offenses in the country.

Utah, on the other hand, has struggled on the road lately and while their guard-oriented team play great defense, the team isn’t very physical either. They are the type of team that will let their opponent do their thing and they are forced to adjust.

But that doesn’t mean they aren’t very good. Utah has the talent to go to the Elite Eight. So often you hear that the NCAA Tournament is about great guard play and Delon Wright, Brandon Taylor and Jordan Loveridge are one of the best trios in the country and the team shoot’s three’s play a very, very tough full-court defense and play a very basic, fundamentally sound game that helped them be the second-best team in the Pac 12 this year.

And they have a 7-footer inside, Jakob Poeltl, who is getting legitimate looks from the NBA. Nothing is easy against this team. They control games.

Outlook: Utah doesn’t like teams that attack right at them, which is exactly what Stephen F. Austin does. The Utes do play great full-court press defense but they turn the ball over a lot and that can be their downfall against another team that plays a very tough defense.

Arkansas vs. Wofford

Wofford is back in the big dance and have do a lot of things that lead to big upsets. They control the tempo of the game. They are patient move the ball well and want to get it to, in order: Karl Cochran, Spencer Collins, or Lee Skinner. And the best part about this team is that they never waiver from their gameplan. They execute what they want to do very well.

That’s exactly what they did when they went to NC State and beat them in December.

Plus, they shoot three’s and don’t turn the ball over. Those two things are so big when it comes to teams upsetting bigger schools. They take advantage of the extra point and don’t lose possessions. It sounds pretty obvious that, that should be what a team wants to do to win.

Wofford is a defense-first team, with an aggressive man-to-man and have been very good closing out on the perimeter, stopping opponents shots.

But this is also a team that nearly lost to Furman in their conference championship game. Sure, Furman was on a miraculous run and upset a bunch of teams but if they can’t soundly beat Furman how can they beat a team that hung tough against Kentucky.

And one thing Wofford doesn’t have, is size. They’ve pretty small, especially inside, which means Bobby Portis can have his way in this game.

Arkansas does have a tendency to settle for shots too early but they are a high-scoring team with an tremendous player inside. Portis averaged 17.8 points and 8.7 rebounds this year. The only other upper-major players to do that were Duke’s Jahlil Okafor and Syracuse’s Rakeem Christmas.

Outlook: Arkansas seems to be the safest No. 5 seed because Wofford just can’t matchup with their big man. Portis will be able to just dominate this game from start to finish.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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