Welcome to Version II of our men’s power rankings! Everyone should know the drill on how we do these rankings. If not, look back at our first version.
A quick note before we get started: we’re not going to overreact to invites that have already occurred, as a lot of teams are competing this weekend. However, teams that looked exceptionally good or were a bit disappointing will see their rankings shift.
1. Texas Longhorns (Last rank: 1)
Did you see the Eddie Reese Invite? The Longhorns haven’t had any official competitions since our last rankings (before this morning), but seeing some top performances from Jack Conger and Joe Schooling bolsters our reason to keep Texas in the top spot. We’ll learn a lot more about this team this weekend when they compete against USC, Arizona, and Wisconsin, among others, at their home invite.
2. Cal Golden Bears (Last rank: 2)
The Bears were off the radar in November, competing in just one meet since our last rankings, defeating Wisconsin in overwhelming fashion. That was all the way back on November 7th. Ryan Murphy and Co. compete this week at the University of Georgia Invitational. There are plenty of athletes to watch, but keep an eye on Long Gutierrez in particular; he’s a pretty good swimmer who hasn’t gotten a lot of attention despite scoring at NCAA’s last season, and could be a critical piece for the Bears this March.
3. Michigan Wolverines (Last rank: 3)
Like Cal, the Wolverines have been off since the first weekend, and will be competing this week at AT&T Winter Nationals. This will be the first real look we will get at how Michigan’s backstroke group is rounding into form—the critical missing piece to the their roster.
4. Florida Gators (Last rank: 4)
Florida, the highest-ranked team to compete in their midseason meet, remains securely in the fourth spot. The Gators weren’t all that impressive (hard to be this early in the year given the workload under Gregg Troy all fall), but the usual suspects proved they still had it (Caeleb Dressel, Dan Wallace, Mitch D’Arrigo, etc).
5. Georgia Bulldogs (Last rank: 5)
Even without Andrew Gemmell and Will Freeman, the Bulldogs have arguably the best mid-distance/distance/200’s-of-stroke group in the country. Still short on sprinters, although Nick Fink, Pace Clark, Taylor Dale, Matias Koski, and Michael Trice should be enough for some decent sprint relays at the end of the year.
6. Stanford Cardinal (Last rank: 7)
The Cardinal weren’t show-stoppers in College Station before Thanksgiving, but many of their difference makers are several steps ahead from a year ago. Three Stanford swimmers currently sit atop the ranks in at least one event: Max Williamson in the 400 IM (3:43.36), Gray Umbach in the 200 fly (1:43.20), and David Nolan in the 200 IM (1:43.24), 100 back (46.22), and 200 back (1:41.03).
7. Arizona Wildcats (Last rank: 6)
With Arizona known for resting more heavily than most teams in season, questions surrounding their postseason prospects will be answered this week at the Texas Invite. The Wildcats dropped another dual meet against USC to fall to 1-3 on the season, and their best butterfly option (Andrew Porter) hasn’t competed since the beginning of October. Still, they have plenty of firepower (Kevin Cordes, Bradley Tandy, Rafael Quintero).
8. USC Trojans (Last rank: 10)
As with our first set of rankings, this is entirely contingent on the return of Cristian Quintero (who had a great preliminary swim in the 200 free yesterday at Short Course Worlds). We haven’t heard much from NCAA scorers Reed Malone and Luca Spinazzola, but Dylan Carter and Santo Condorelli have been excellent through the first two months. Their biggest problem: no true sprint breaststroker on the roster (minus the unproven Steven Stumph).
9. Auburn Tigers (Last rank: 8)
The Tigers fell hard to Louisville a couple weeks ago, and outside of Joe Patching, they didn’t look good at all doing it. They’ll be competing against some top notch competition (Georgia and Cal, among others) this week at the Georgia Invitational.
10. NC State Wolfpack (Last rank: 9)
I almost put Alabama ahead of NC State. Then I looked at the start lists for the men’s 50 free today at U.S. Nationals, and saw the Wolfpack have 4 guys seeded at 19.56 or better.
11. Alabama Crimson Tide (Last rank: 11)
Kristian Gkolomeev is still fast, and Anton McKee doesn’t look like he’s missed a beat coming off a pretty serious injury. Some fast early season swims were nearly enough for the Tide to jump over NC State and Auburn. Alex Gray has been a nice surprise so far.
12. Indiana Hoosiers (Last rank: 12)
We hadn’t seen anything from the Hoosiers in over a month until last night. If their 200 medley relay is any indication, their sprint relays aren’t quite what we thought they were (although Denny Green may have been aware).
13. Tennessee Volunteers (Last rank: 13)
That Tennessee distance group doesn’t mess around. The Volunteers have two swimmers in the top five of all three distance freestyle events. Evan Pinion is the most notable; he’s the NCAA leader in the 1000 and 1650, while also holding second position in the 500. Sean Lehane (200 back) and Sam McHugh (400 IM) also sit top five nationally, well under last year’s NCAA invited times.
14. Missouri Tigers (Last rank: 18)
Our biggest mover from the last set of rankings. The Tigers surpassed the expectations of many (including mine) at their invite last week, with Sam Tierney’s A cut in the 100 breast being the headliner. Michael Chadwick (42.7 in the 100 free) and the Missouri sprint group seriously turned some heads, putting together a 200 free relay that’s nearly a full second faster than anybody else in the country heading into this weekend.
Don’t look now, but they also have three of the top five 200 IMers in the country heading into this weekend.
15. Louisville Cardinals (Last rank: 15)
Is this Louisville team better than last year’s, even without Joao De Lucca? It’s certainly looking that way. The Cardinals have swimmers in the top eight in each of the 100’s of stroke (including two in the top five in the 100 fly), and the #3 200 breaststroker in the country (freshman Carlos Claverle). Those swimmers may move down the ranks after this weekend, but Louisville still looks dangerous.
16. UNLV Rebels (Last rank: 17)
UNLV impressed last week at their invite, putting three swimmers under 20.0 and 44.0-second barriers (that 100 group doesn’t include Dillon Virva). Virva was just 19.56 in the 50, and given his personal best is 19.19, the Rebels look like they have plenty of room to improve. Handa Machado also had a breakthrough weekend, clocking in at 46.39 in the 100 back.
17. Penn State Nittany Lions (Last rank: 14)
Shane Ryan. Nate Savoy. They’re the only NCAA individual scoring threats right now, but the supporting cast is improving. We’ll see what happens this weekend at the Georgia Invite.
18. Utah Utes (Last rank: 19)
Nick Soedel is the name we always talk about, but Alex Fernades and Bence Kiraly are having very good seasons.
19. Ohio State Buckeyes (Last rank: 20)
Josh Fleagle split 18.6 for the Buckeyes last night. Keep an eye on him. The Buckeyes have some other very good pieces (Steven Zimmerman, National Teamer Dj Macdonald, and Tamas Gercsak), as well.
20. UNC Tarheels (Last rank: 16)
The Tarheels weren’t particularly impressive at the Nike Cup last week, but Sam Lewis and Ben Colley are still studs.
21. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Last rank: 22)
Andrew Kosic is looking like a potential one-man wrecking machine. He’s currently top four nationally in three individuals.
22. Minnesota Golden Gophers (Last rank: 24)
The Gophers are still in business with Daryl Turner holding down the sprint events.
23. Florida State (Last rank: 23)
Jury is still out on the Seminoles until this weekend’s Georgia Invite.
24. Wisconsin Badgers (Last rank: NR)
The Badgers haven’t shown much in terms of relays, but they have some serious top-end individual talent (Andrew teDuits, Nick Caldwell, Matthew Hutchins).
25. Duke Blue Devils (Last rank: 21)
Peter Kropp continued his excellent year with a stellar 52.0 100 breaststroke last week.
Next team out: Purdue