Anyone who read our women’s preview knows how this works. Now it’s time to take an in depth look at the men’s psych sheet, and see who the favorites are, and who are the teams to watch.
Here is a link to the official psych sheets, for reference.
First, the teams with the most entries:
- Cal 18
- Arizona 18
- Texas 18
- Auburn 17
- Stanford 16
- Georgia 15
- Ohio State 15
- Florida 11
- Michigan 11
Remember, this doesn’t include divers, which will be decided at this weekend’s zone diving championships. Essentially, six diving events count as a single roster spot. For Texas, who has defending 1-meter national champion Drew Livingston, this means that 18th swimmer is likely to be left home, although it’s probably a non-scoring swimmer.
Before we dive deeper, I’ll list the scores as the psych sheets go.
- Texas 491
- Stanford 402
- Florida 362
- Auburn 334
- Cal 320
- Michigan 296
- Arizona 249
- Georgia 191
- Ohio State 146
- Virginia 125
- USC 116
- UNC 93
- Kentucky 86
- Texas A&M/Tennessee 82
Based on the scoring coming into the meet, Texas looks almost untouchable. They had a good, but not great, Big 12 Championships, which leads me to believe that they weren’t very rested, and still have a lot of time to drop. I don’t think anybody can catch them, especially when you add in the aforementioned Livingston, who is a favorite to win at least one board, and will probably final on at least one more. Stanford, the only team within grasping distance, will get a boost with the return of Dwight Dumais, who missed the Pac-10 Championships with a shoulder injury. Assuming that he is healthy, Dumais is an All-American on two boards.
But Texas has both swimmers with the potential to win events, and a massive amount of swimmers predicted to finish in the scoring. The huge number of swimmers they will have in the top 16 will give them a huge margin of error. They also have the motivation, as they just lost a close meet to Auburn last season, with some controversy about not having access to the same level of suits. They are just too good this year, and should roll to a national title.
This season, Stanford is rarely mentioned without bringing up their loss of Austin Staab, the defending NCAA Champion, and U.S. Open record holder (the SCY equivalent of a world record) in the 100 fly. Although Stanford has done a commendable job without him, including winning their 29th straight Pac-10 title, this meet would be an absolute dogfight between the two for the title. Perhaps one of the best showdowns in the history of the meet even. But alas, it is not to be, and Stanford is going to have to settle for another top-4 finish (they’ve finished in the top 4 for 20 consecutive years).
So what of the defending champion Auburn Tigers? They still have the top flight sprinters (Gideon Luow, Adam Brown), but don’t have the depth in the 200 yard+ events to take the title this year. They are a very similar squad to California, who will be anchored by All-World sprinter Nathan Adrian but just don’t have the bredth of strength to compete for the overall crown. But don’t be surprised if either squad wins multiple events.
Florida, seeded at third, is a little scary, without strong divers and only 11 qualifiers, they are really putting the weight on a few swimmers. If those guys don’t swim well, the Gators could be in trouble.
Arizona is my darkhorse pick for the men’s meet. They hugely underperformed at the Pac-10 Championships, but this sets them up for a chance at a hug rebound at NCAA’s. I also really like the underrated Virginia squad, the ACC Champions, to pick up some points.
The most surprising team on the list is Kentucky, who comes in seeded 13th. The Wildcats have two very highly seeded relays (400 free at 4th, 200 free at 5th) and a few swimmers (Kyle Green, Eric McGinnis) who could score them big points. If they did score 86 points, it would be a 40 point improvement off of last year’s finish.
Ohio State, the host team, is having their best season to date. The Buckeyes have shown a huge improvement, and even knocked off the powerhouse Michigan squad to claim the Big Ten title. In addition to home-pool advantage, the Buckeyes also have a top-notch diving program that should score them big points. Althought the Buckeyes should do well at NCAA’s, I don’t expect them to be able to top Michigan this time around. At NCAA’s, top swimmers carry teams, and Michigan has one of the best in Tyler Clary, who holds the top seed in three events (200 IM, 400 IM, 200 backstroke) and might be the best swimmer in the country this year.
Here’s my predictions for the final finish oder:
- Ohio State
- Texas A&M
- North Carolina
Let us know your thoughts, and what your predictions are! And, as always, stay tuned to The Swimmers Circle for more coverage of the men’s and women’s NCAA Championships.