Following up last week’s Women’s rankings, here’s our first version of the 2015-16 NCAA Men’s Power Rankings. We’ll continually refresh these rankings every 2-3 weeks, including short anecdotes of the NCAA’s top 20 teams. It’s (very) early in the year, so these rankings are a mix of both how the teams have looked so far, and, ultimately, the team’s end-of-season prospects.
In addition, here’s some other factors we considered (these haven’t changed from last season):
- How the team looks so far this year
- Divers. It’s easy to ignore them to pander to the “what is diving doing with swimming” audience, but they’re part of the game, sorry.
- Year-over-year improvements, adds, etc.
- Depth and flexibility of roster, because teams with more options have a larger margin of error come NCAA’s.
- How the team placed last year at NCAA’s, and how many points they graduated.
The rankings, #20 through #1:
20. Duke Blue Devils
Peter Kropp (52.1 in the 100 breast) is off to another hot start, and all four legs of top 16 200 medley relay are back again.
19. Wisconsin Badgers
Took down rival Minnesota, and Cannon Clifton and Brett Pinfold give the Badgers a 1-2 sprint punch worth watching.
18. Harvard Crimson
No meets yet, and no NCAA points last season, but that freshman class is hard to ignore.
17. North Carolina Tarheels
The Tarheels took just one swim race in their loss to #8 Georgia, but that race was a good sign; freshman Zu Pigot from Suriname won the 100 fly in 47.3, taking down Gunnar Bentz, Taylor Dale, and All-American teammate Sam Lewis.
16. South Carolina Gamecocks
Yes, seriously; South Carolina is returning every swimmer from last year’s NCAA squad that finished 19th, and added freshman distance stud Cody Bekemeyer to the mix. After winning the FGCU invite and topping Purdue, the Gamecocks will take on #7 Alabama this weekend.
15. Ohio State Buckeyes
Unclear: the Buckeyes have yet to compete in an official meet, but are bringing back most of their key pieces besides Michael Disalle.
14. Louisville Cardinals
The Cardinals are bringing back almost everyone from last year’s 15th-place squad, and added Max Grodecki, who was 43.19 in the 100 free two seasons ago. Their first big test is tonight against #11 Tennessee.
13. Missouri Tigers
A lack of depth and distance swimmers tripped them up against #11 Tennessee, but between Michael Chadwick, Carter Griffin, and Fabian Schwingenschlogl, the Tigers have a solid core.
12. Indiana Hoosiers
The Hoosiers took Florida down the wire in their trimeet with Texas two weekends ago behind big efforts from Blake Pieroni and Tanner Kurz. However, they put up great times at this meet last season as well, only to remain flat until February.
11. Tennessee Volunteers
Topped Missouri and Virginia behind their distance duo (David Heron and Evan Pinion) and Sean Lehane, who hasn’t lost an individual race through four meets this season. They have another challenge this weekend against #14 Louisville.
10. Stanford Cardinal
A lot of graduates, plus Tom Kremer redshirting put the Cardinal in a precarious position (no returning NCAA individual points), but they looked good against Utah; sprinter Sam Perry is already at 20.0 and 44.3. The real test will be #4 NC State next weekend.
9. USC Trojans
Still talent on the roster, but the sprint freestyle cupboards are empty; three of four legs on the 200 and 400 free relays are either graduated (Cristian Quintero, Luca Spinazzola) or redshirting (Dylan Carter, Santo Condorelli). Things will look better next semester when Carsten Vissering, Patrick Mulcare, Ralf Tribuntsov, and Alex Valente officially join the squad.
8. Georgia Bulldogs
Chase Kalisz is redshirting, but the Bulldogs are loaded in his best events. The loss of Nic Fink might be harder to overcome.
7. Alabama Crimson Tide
Fell to Auburn, but continue to impress after last season’s big jump. Luke Kaliszak is well ahead of where he was at this time last season.
6. Auburn Tigers
They were edged in both relays against rival Alabama, but they’re a complete team with a legitimate NCAA scorer in every event that’s 200 yards and under. Joe Patching and Michael Duderstadt have been excellent so far.
5. Michigan Wolverines
Not much to see at this point. The Wolverines cruised through a long course trimeet with Purdue and Michigan State at the beginning of the month and haven’t had an official meet since. Things kick up this weekend against Virginia and Penn State.
4. NC State Wolfpack
Last year doesn’t look like a fluke; NC State looked scary good against Florida State. The Wolfpack are going toe-to-toe with top competition this fall; after flying to the Bay Area to take on #10 Stanford and #2 Cal next weekend, NC State will host the defending champion #1 Texas Longhorns on 11/14.
3. Florida Gators
Looked very solid against Texas; Jack Blyzinskyj is off to a great start. The problem? No breaststrokers, meaning Caeleb Dressel has to swim his third-best stroke on Gator medley relays.
2. California Golden Bears
No sprint breaststrokers, but Josh Prenot and Andrew Seliskar will do the job just fine. The Bears rolled through Utah, and are set up for a big meet next weekend against #4 NC State. Will be interesting to see how their lack of sprint freestyle depth fares against NC State’s high-powered group.
1. Texas Longhorns
Unquestionably #1. Did you see that intersquad meet?
Come back next week for version two of our Women’s rankings