Clemson Basketball

Brownell: a 12-seed beating a 5 is "not that big of an upset" if it happens every year

March 13, 2018
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CLEMSON -- Take a deep breath.

The brackets are out. Let the chaos begin.

For the next couple of days, the entire country will fill out, tear apart, then fill out again their NCAA Tournament brackets. Office pools, bragging rights, the search is on for the perfect bracket while the madness of March sweeps through the nation.

There is no method to the madness. It’s what makes this time of the year so special.

There’s always one constant, though: upsets.

The magic of the NCAA Tournament is fueled by the team that gets hot, the team that isn’t supposed to win. The Cinderella story.

The magic of the NCAA Tournament is fueled by the team that gets hot, the team that isn’t supposed to win. The Cinderella story.

So which team will the glass slipper fit? Everyone is trying their best to find them.

In the past five Final Fours, there has been at least one seven seed or lower to make it that far. The most recent was South Carolina, who made the Final Four as a seven seed. In 2014, Connecticut (7) and Kentucky (8) both made the Final Four.

One of the first matchups that’ll come to mind when eyeing your brackets is the No. 5 vs. No. 12 seed matchup. In the past five seasons, a No. 12 has beaten a No. 5 ten times. Only twice in the past 18 years have the No. 5 seeds shutout the No. 12s, most recently being in 2015.

It’s one of the most trendy upset picks you can make. Of course, Brad Brownell's squad is already on "upset alert."

That raised the question to Brownell’s mind once he saw Clemson on the 5-line facing the No. 12 seed New Mexico State: “If it happens every year, then it’s really not that big of an upset, right?”

According to the Data-Assisted Victory Detector for the NCAA tournament, there is a 47 percent chance New Mexico State will upset Clemson.

“If it happens every year, then it’s really not that big of an upset, right?”
- Brad Brownell

The Aggies from New Mexico State finished the season 28-5 and enter the NCAA Tournament after winning the WAC for the 5th consecutive season.

The Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii in December was when the Aggies got their best wins of the season. They defeated Davidson, who also made the Big Dance, 69-68 in the Classic.

Their best win of the season came against Miami, the only ranked team they played all season. Brownell said he watched a few minutes of New Mexico State’s triumph over the Hurricanes back in December and was impressed with what he saw.

“I know they are really athletic and that they defend exceptionally well,” Brownell said. “They take care of the ball pretty good, which are all signs of a competitive, well-coached team.

Brownell then took it further.

“Miami is a top-20 program. I think a lot made of all that is if you win a Mid-Major league, you are going to be seeded 12th or 13th if you are really good… A lot of those Mid-Major teams would come in our league and do very well.”

"You just got to go play great. You can’t not play well and win in these games."
- Brad Brownell

The Aggies will have Clemson’s full attention in its first Tournament appearance since 2011. The last time the Tigers were a No. 5 seed was in 2008, and they were upset by Villanova 75-69. When Clemson went to the Tournament four straight years from 2008-11, they lost in the first round as the better seed every time.

Brownell isn’t worried about the curse of the 5-12 matchup or the madness of March, and it’s impending chaos.

He’s only worried about what’s in front of him: the Aggies, who have gone dancing five consecutive years and his team, who hasn’t made it to the Sweet Sixteen since 1997.

“You just got to go play great. You can’t not play well and win in these games,” Brownell said. “You don’t win 28 games and not be good. You got to have good players; you got to have good coaching to win 28 games. I’ve been a part of those leagues; I know how good they are.”

Clemson and New Mexico State will tip-off on Friday at 9:57 PM on TruTV in the final game of the first round.

 
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