2011 NCAA Women's Psych Sheets: Crunching the Numbers

Today, the NCAA released the official 2011 Women’s psych sheets. Texas A&M had the most qualifiers at 15, followed by Georgia with 14. (Click here for a full breakdown of qualifiers for the top teams).

First let’s check out the scoring breakdown for the top 16 teams, then we’ll dig beyond the numbers just a little. While I still have your attention, if there’s anything your curious about, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments. I’ll do my best to crunch the numbers for you!

1. Cal 325
2. Georgia 323
3. USC 308
4. Texas 250
5. Stanford 242.5
6. Auburn 211
7. Florida 209.5
8. Texas A&M 203.5
8. Tennessee 203.5
10. Arizona 177.5
11. LSU 135.5
12. Wisconsin 134
13. Minnesota 130
14. Indiana 121.5
15. Virginia 113.5
16. UNC 79

Of course, this ignores the other half of the scoring, which is the diving. Divers will be decided at the upcoming Zone competitions, but until then, we can say which teams will benefit and which ones won’t from the diving. Unlike last year (when Arizona qualified 18 swimmers), no teams will have to worry about the roster limits this year, which makes the coaches’ jobs much easier.

Georgia has a chance at a few platform points from freshman Ann-Perry Blank. Cal has a shot at a small-handful from their diving group. But neither of these top two teams is going to shake their foundations based on diving (ala Florida last year). The team that’s going to get a big boon from diving is third-ranked USC. They’re looking at in the neighborhood of 40 points. Fifth-ranked Stanford will also get big diving points, with the emergence of Meg Hostage, and to a lesser extent Texas with Maren Taylor.

Texas A&M will be without their best diver, who has redshirted, which hurts them a lot. Florida has quality diving, but not as much as they did last season. Auburn also has a strong diving group. It’s unlikely that any of these three teams will have enough diving to make up the difference between them and no. 5 Stanford or no. 4 Texas without their swimmers pitching into the effort.

If we rework the top 8 including diving, it will look almost identical, except that USC will move to the top of the pile (with about a 20 point cushion).

The Georgia Bulldogs have the most individual expected scorers in the meet. This means that they are best able to absorb a few off swims, and also have a huge advantage to make up (or lose) points from their seeds. Their 26 top-16 entries is by far the most of any team in the meet, followed by 20 from USC and 18 each from Cal, Stanford, and Florida. Here’s the numbers of scoring entries, including relays, that each team will have:
1. Georgia 26
2. USC 20
3. Cal 18
3. Stanford 18
3. Florida 18
6. Texas A&M 17
7. Tennessee 16
8. Indiana 14
9. Arizona 12
9. Auburn 12
9. Virginia 12
9. Arizona 12
9. Texas 12
14. Minnesota 10
15. LSU 9
16. UNC 8

USC, on the other hand, is the most top-heavy team. They have the top seed in five different individual events (Katinka Hosszu in the 400 IM, 200 IM, and 200 fly; as well as Lyndsay DePaul in the 100 fly andHaley Anderson in the mile. In general, when looking at a team’s ability to match their “seeded score,” top seeds aren’t viewed as a great thing. Of course, they’re awesome if they hold true, but there’s also a lot of points to be lost by a 1-spot drop (especially in a meet as close as this one). There’s also no room to improve off of the seedings. Georgia, Auburn, and Cal each have two top seeds.

Stanford has the most 9th-seeded swimmers (3), which gives them a lot of opportunities to jump into the A-final and lock in those top-8 points.

Cal is counting the most on relay points for their scoring. As seeded, the Golden Bears will get 176 of their points from their 5 relay teams. Texas (156) and Auburn (140) will be close behind. Georgia is seeded surprisingly low in their relays, with only 116 seeded points. What this says is that they have a huge chunk of their 26 scorers concentrated in a few events (namely, the freestyle and 200 IM events), and are going to be hurt in the strokes.  Cal, on the other hand, has the depth and versatility to put together five strong relays with 176 (out of a possible 200) relay points.

USC knows they’re about one sprinter short of having five great relays, but I was shocked to see only 94 expected relay points. Unless they’ve got a card hiding up their sleeves, coach Dave Salo might have to consider if, strategically, they’re not better off just putting all of their big guns into their best four relays and then hoping for a B-final in the fifth.

How will the flow of the meet go? While there’s always surprises, teams generally stay strong in their strong events and weak in their weak events. The following numbers to exclude diving, though we will star teams with strong diving squads.

At the end of Day 1, the top 6 should be as follows:

1. Georgia 119
2. Cal 103
3. Texas 95*
4. Stanford 89*
5. Auburn 85*
6. USC 80*

Georgia will have big points on day 1 thanks to the 500 free and 200 IM, where they’re expected to have gigantic scoring. The only thing that will keep scoring close after day 1, is that their weakest relay, the 400 medley, ends the session. Cal, on the other hand, will have the top seed in that event, which will push them to second. A team you’ll see missing after day 1 is Florida, as they are only expected to have 51 points (+ a strong diving squad) on the first day, which is not their best.

At the end of Day 2, the top 6 should be as follows:

1. Cal 239
2. Georgia 235
3. USC 197*
4. Texas 192*
5. Texas A&M 151.5
6. Stanford 150.5*

It’s surprising that Cal will be able to pull ahead of Georgia on Day 2, even with the 200 free and 800 free relay (where they will be looking to break the U.S. Open Record). But the success in that relay will be countered by the 200 medley (seeded 14th), and a 100 fly where they don’t even have an entry. After getting out of the freestyle events and into some strokes, USC will also start to surge towards the top of the standings. Texas holds steady on day 2, but their in-state rivals Texas A&M will score roughly half of their points on the second day.

At the end of Day 3, the top 6 should be as follows:

1. Cal 325
2. Georgia 323
3. USC 308
4. Texas 250
5. Stanford 242.5
6. Auburn 211

Georgia has a great final day lined up. With two freestyle events (the 1650 and the 100) that they should score huge in, as well as the only relay being the 400 free relay, the final day is right in their wheel-house.  They are, however, without an expected finalist in the breaststroke, and again don’t have an entry in the 200 butterfly. This is going to be quite a battle. Get your calculators ready for the 400 free relay, because this meet will absolutely not be decided by that point. I actually expect USC to have the lead headed into the final relay, and then have to fight for their lives to hang on to it. Cal’s going to make a huge move in those last two events (the 200 breaststroke and 200 fly) on Georgia. The two teams have very similar relays, and will be swimming for their title.

But of course, all of this ignores the “human element” of these Championship meets. These numbers are a lot of fun to look at (there’s no offense or defense in swimming, so if you don’t enjoy numbers, you probably haven’t even read this far), but they probably are only partially relevant. Check back between now and NCAA’s when we make our predictions and do our best to factor in the “human element.”

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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