Big thanks to SwimSwam’s Anne Lepesant for running the numbers for us all week.
This one’s been close the whole way, and based on our prelims scoring analysis, it’s going to stay that way right down to the bitter end.
The 2014 Men’s NCAA Championships have been dominated by a mostly three-team battle between Texas, California and Florida. After last night, Texas led by 6, but our projected margin has the meet coming down even closer than that.
First things first: we once again scored out prelims and compared them to the psych sheets we scored out a month ago. These scores include all the individual events of the morning, and also include platform diving prelims. We make special note of that as our scorings the past two days did not include diving. The prelims score column still includes psych sheet points for the 1650, which is swum as timed finals this afternoon into the evening.
Continuing the trend of the past two days, Texas and Cal are rising fast, picking up major points from their seeded places. The Longhorns gained 69 points, the most of any team. Their chief rivals Cal, though, gained the second-most, at a +54 for the morning, and with the Bears already seeded with more points, Cal is set to be the highest-scoring team tonight with 125 prelims points.
Florida gained 5 of their own after being projected as the best day 3 team, but Cal’s surge put the Bears ahead of the Gators.
The biggest dropoffs were NC State, which lost 33.5 points from their seeds.
Reminder: the first column includes every prelims event scored out, including platform diving, plus psych sheet seeds of the 1650. The second column shows the psych sheet seeds of every event. The “+/-” column shows the rise or fall in total points.
|DAY 3 Prelims||Day 3 Psych||+/-|
Now here’s the chart you’ve been waiting for: combining prelims points with each team’s current running total gives us a projected final score and the projected final standings. Remember, these include the prelims results of every event (diving included) except the 1650 free, using psych sheet points for the 1650 instead.
The projections have the meet coming down to the last relay, with Texas ultimately winning by just 4 points. But with the relay counting as double points, those 4 could change in a hurry – winning the 400 free relay yields 40 points, and second place is just 34. With Cal and Texas seeded 2 and 3 right now, either team moving up to win would be a devastating final blow.
Both teams are also seeded very similar in the 1650. Texas’s Sam Lewis is 15th and Cal’s Jeremy Bagshaw 16th. A jump into the top 8 for either would be a big enough point swing to change these standings.
Outside of that mile and the aforementioned 400 free relay, here are some of the biggest wildcards to keep an eye on for the top two teams tonight:
- Can Ryan Murphy defend his top seed in the 200 back? If not, Cal loses at least 3 points.
- Will Texas freshman Jack Conger finally put together a great finals swim and move up in that event?
- Can John Murray upend Marcelo Chierighini and Joao de Lucca in the 100 free for Texas? If he wins, that’s +3 for the Longhorns.
- 200 breast: can Chuck Katis or Josh Prenot move up for Cal in the A final? And can Texas freshman Will Licon hold his 9th place seed, or will the Longhorns lose the 2+ points if he doesn’t?
Florida would need a giant night to make a run. With two men seeded in the top 4 of the mile, it would appear the Gators have more room to move down from these numbers than up. But again, the relay will be huge, as Florida sits 4th. That’s ideally the best position, as moving up would both gain more points for Florida and take points away from Texas or Cal.
Of course, a relay DQ would basically blow these projections up, and at the rate we’ve been seeing false starts called at this meet, there’s a real chance something like that could happen again tonight.
Our projected scores have Michigan solidly 4th, moving away from Georgia after things got relatively close last night. The Bulldogs are a solid 5th, and then things get fairly tight again between Auburn, Arizona and USC. It’s also worth noting that while Stanford has had some disappointing swims, they’re still projected to get into the top 10, holding their 9th place position from a night ago. Indiana leads a group of teams battling for the final top 10 spot.
|Projected Final Score|
Swim fans, start resting up for tonight, because it looks like the final session will raise some heart rates.