Following up our 3rd edition of our 2014-15 NCAA Women’s SwimSwam Power Rankings with our first set of Men’s Power Rankings in 2015. Like with the most recent women’s version, we’re keeping the rankings explanations shorter, and paying a bit more attention to some key milestones for a few teams (breaking into the top 10, the top 5, or winning NCAA’s) .
Remember that these polls are primarily focused on end-of-season expectations, and aren’t overly-reactive to dual meet results.
25. BYU COUGARS (PREVIOUS RANK: #25)
24. Texas A&M Aggies/The Fighting Braden Keiths (PREVIOUS RANK: NR)
23. FLORIDA STATE (PREVIOUS RANK: #22)
22. WISCONSIN BADGERS (PREVIOUS RANK: #21)
21. IOWA HAWKEYES (PREVIOUS RANK: #19)
Small shakeups from 21-25, with Iowa falling back and Texas A&M entering the mix after bouncing back from a subpar opening semester with an impressive January. With three legitimate sprinters coming around, they could be a disruptor in the sprint free relays. The team to watch in this group, however, is the Wisconsin Badgers.
Team to watch: Wisconsin Badgers
Why: Individual studs
Five reasons Wisconsin could sneak into the top 15:
1) The resurrection of Drew teDuits (already under 1:40 in the 200 back)
2) Pair of mid-distance/distance scoring threats in Matthew Hutchins and Nicholas Caldwell
3) Returning 19 of 20 of their relay legs (including 3 of 4 from a sneaky-good 800 free relay)
4) Returning scorer Nick Schafer keeps getting better
5) Cannon Clifton morphing into an effective #1 sprinter
20. VIRGINIA TECH H2OKIES (PREVIOUS RANK: #23)
19. UTAH UTES (PREVIOUS RANK: #20)
18. UNLV REBELS (PREVIOUS RANK: #16)
17. PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS (PREVIOUS RANK: #17)
16. INDIANA HOOSIERS (PREVIOUS RANK: #14)
The biggest shift from 15-20 is UNLV dropping two spots following their upset defeat to conference foe Wyoming. The Rebels are definitely better suited for a championship format than a dual meet, but they were exposed for their lack of depth.
Keep an eye on Virginia Tech. Although the H2Okies failed to score a single relay point last season, they were seeded to score easily in all five events. If they can figure out how to swim better as a team at NCAA’s, they could easily be knocking on the door of the top 15.
Team to watch: Virginia Tech H2Okies
Why: Returning experience
Five reasons Virginia Tech could finish in the top 15:
1) Returning 19 of 20 relay swims
2) Collin Higgins posted the 7th fastest time in the 200 back last season at NCAA’s
3) The Brothers Fiala (C.J. and Brandon) provide excellent relay depth
4) Morgan Latimer is a dual-event scoring threat
5) Diving crew has multiple athletes on the edge of scoring
15. OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (PREVIOUS RANK: #18)
14. TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS (Previous RANK: #15)
13. ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (PREVIOUS RANK: #13)
12. LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (PREVIOUS RANK: #12)
11. MISSOURI TIGERS (PREVIOUS RANK: #11)
The top three spots here stay the same, but a very deep Ohio State team jumps into the top 15 a pair of solid wins against Indiana and Louisville. Despite looking incredibly sluggish in their loss to the Buckeyes, the Cardinals are too good and have too much talent to drop below the 12 spot. Good enough to upset the order and maybe break into the top 10.
Team to watch: Louisville Cardinals
Why: Somehow better the year after losing Joao De Lucca
Five reasons Louisville could break into the top 10:
1) Four top 8 relays
2) Grigory Tarasevich has made the leap
3) Three great breaststrokers (Thomas Dahlia, Carlos Claverie, Addison Bray)
4) Three butterflyers under 47.0 this season, headlined by Pedro Coutinho at 46.4
5) Track record of backing up their great conference swims at NCAA’s
10. ARIZONA WILDCATS (PREVIOUS RANK: #7)
9. NC STATE WOLFPACK (PREVIOUS RANK: #10)
8. USC TROJANS (PREVIOUS RANK: #8)
7. STANFORD CARDINAL (PREVIOUS RANK: #6)
6. AUBURN TIGERS (Previous RANK: #9)
Lots of uncertainty here. Kevin Cordes has looked—dare we say—beatable. Cristian Quintero is back, but the Trojans still don’t have a breaststroker. Stanford has a ton of question marks right now (we’ll know more after this weekend against USC). Auburn has shot up our rankings after bolstering their roster with some new additions, but how will they handle the conference-to-NCAA turnaround?
Team to watch: NC State Wolfpack
Why: Scary good sprint group
Five reasons NC State could finish in the top 8:
1) Home of arguably the country’s best sprint freestyle group
2) Double-event distance scorer in Anton Ipsen
3) 1-2 backstroke punch (Andreas Schiellerup, Hennessey Stuart) that has started the new year off hot
4) Supporting cast (Christian McCurdy, Stephen Coetzer, etc.) can be difference makers individually at NCAA’s
5) They can’t possibly DQ their best relay two years in a row, right?
5. MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (PREVIOUS RANK: #5)
4. FLORIDA GATORS (PREVIOUS RANK: #4)
3. GEORGIA BULLDOGS (PREVIOUS RANK: #3)
2. CAL GOLDEN BEARS (PREVIOUS RANK: #2)
1. TEXAS LONGHORNS (PREVIOUS RANK: #1)
No changes in the top five, and if NCAA’s were swum today, these five are relatively set in stone:
- Michigan has looked better in the second half, and is safely in the top five for the moment, but they’ll need to tap into the powers they harnessed for their 2013 NCAA title run to have a good chance at moving up
- Georgia and Florida are probably in the tightest battle in this group, assuming the Bulldog sprint group hasn’t just been smoke and mirrors.
- Justin Lynch arrived on at the perfect time, but Cal is a half step worse (at this point) without Tony Cox, Marcin Tarczynski, and Jeremy Bagshaw. That being said, they still has enough pieces to challenge if things swing a certain way. And they have Dave Durden.
- Between the emergence of Clark Smith, the reemergence of Jack Conger, and at least two freshmen who will do serious damage at NCAA’s, Texas is a much, much better team than last season (a team that gave Cal a run for their money). Breaststrokers were their biggest question mark a year ago, and they seem to have found their platoon with Will Licon taking the 100 and John Murray muscling his way through a 50.
Dropped from rankings: Georgia Tech (#24)