Conference championship season is upon us in the NCAA’s Division I, which means it’s time for the final edition of our NCAA Power Rankings.
We started with the women’s rankings yesterday, and now we move to the men’s programs, most of which are a week out from the start of their conference championship meets.
For the sake of fairness, we’re trying not to take into account swims already done at a conference meet (like, hypothetically, an insane American record at SECs) because it would involve comparing suited, rested swims for one team to midseason swims for another.
At the conclusion of the conference round, we’ll be back with our official NCAA Predictions.
SwimSwam’s Power Rankings are somewhere between the CSCAA-style dual meet rankings and a pure prediction of NCAA finish order. SwimSwam’s rankings take into account how a team looks at the moment, while keeping the end of the season in mind through things like a team’s previous trajectory and NCAA scoring potential. These rankings are by nature subjective, and a jumping-off point for discussion. If you disagree with any team’s ranking, feel free to make your case in a respectful way in our comments section.
20. Arizona State Sun Devils (Previously: Unranked)
Beat Arizona for the first time in more than a decade and looked good doing it, to the tune of five school records. Surprisingly, it’s coach Bob Bowman‘s sprinters that look best, with multiple 19-second relay threats (Patrick Park, Tadas Duskinas, Thomaz Martins and Richard Bohus) heading into Pac-12s.
19. Minnesota Golden Gophers (Previously: #18)
Wins over Purdue and Northwestern ended the season on a strong note, and freshman sprinter Bowe Becker keeps looking more and more like the real deal for a school with a legendary sprint background within the Big Ten.
18. Florida State Seminoles (Previously: #16)
The schedule has been tough sledding for the ‘Noles, who lost to Auburn and Wisconsin since the last rankings. But FSU’s top-end swimmers are still competing well enough to keep the team in good shape for the post-season.
17. Wisconsin Badgers (Previously: Unranked)
The Badgers beat Florida State with ease, and though they lost to Auburn in the same triangular, they did bloody up the Tigers through the freestyle events, no small feat. Cannon Clifton, Brett Pinfold and Matt Hutchins combine to cover pretty much the whole yardage spectrum for a Wisconsin team that could find some big free relay points this year.
16. Ohio State Buckeyes (Previously: #15)
They were beaten pretty soundly by Michigan in what was really their only major dual meet test of the year. Still, OSU is one of the Big Ten’s better teams, with breaststroker DJ MacDonald looking like one of the conference’s top threats.
15. South Carolina Gamecocks (Previously: #17)
The Gamecocks didn’t look great against William & Mary and East Carolina, but they didn’t really have to. That distance group is for real, led by Akaram Mahmoud and Cody Bekemeyer.
14. Tennessee Volunteers (Previously: #13)
Tennessee caught a Florida team at the wrong time and got lit up late in the regular season. This team’s fate depends on whether swimmers like Evan Pinion can show up at SECs and NCAAs like they did midseason.
13. Louisville Cardinals (Previously: #12)
The Cards got decked by Indiana, but rebounded with some nice swims at their home First Chance Meet. Another year of familiarity with the ACC should help, and Carlos Claverie has been on fire all year.
12. Indiana Hoosiers (Previously: #14)
A big jump for Indiana after waxing Louisville. The Hoosier sprint group is popping like it hasn’t in years, and the mid-season addition of Brazilian flyer Vinicius Lanza is already paying dividends.
11. Stanford Cardinal (Previously: #11)
Stanford lost to a red-hot USC team that reloaded at the semester break. The season-ending dual with Cal might shed some light on how Stanford is rebounding from that loss.
10. Missouri Tigers (Previously: #10)
The home Missouri Invite was a relative success, and Mizzou’s highly-ranked relays make them a sneaky-good threat in the SEC.
9. Alabama Crimson Tide (Previously: #8)
‘Bama hasn’t competed since the last rankings (besides the SEC meet we’re not including in these regular season rankings), but are looking strong after adding the versatile Dutchman Laurent Bams and offering sportswriters a chance to use the phrase “‘Bama’s Bams” in an actual story.
8. Auburn Tigers (Previously: #7)
Wins over Wisconsin and Florida State were as good as expected. Michael Duderstadt continues to kill it in the breaststrokes. Auburn really only moves down because of an extraordinary jump by a certain band of Trojans.
7. Georgia Bulldogs (Previously: #6)
Same story with the ‘Dawgs. Jack Bauerle‘s crew dispatched a good Wisconsin team with relative ease, even winning the 400 free relay by three seconds despite Wisconsin’s loaded freestyle group.
6. NC State Wolfpack (Previously: #5)
The Wolfpack reigned supreme in North Carolina once again, topping UNC as well as ACC rivals Virginia. It seems about that time of year again that the Wolfpack starts to howl through the NCAA relay ranks – but avoiding false starts has to be the priority for the Pack in 2016.
5. USC Trojans (Previously: #9)
Who knew adding Ralf Tribuntsov, Carsten Vissering, Patrick Mulcare and Alex Valente could make such a difference? Well, besides everybody. USC is maybe the nation’s hottest team after sweeping Pac-12 rivals California and Stanford, and 2015 proved the Trojans can really roll through the postseason when they build some momentum.
4. Florida Gators (Previously: #4)
Considering these are technically our final rankings of the regular season, we kind of have to pretend Caeleb Dressel didn’t just go 18.23 in a 50 freestyle. But seriously… did you see that???
3. Michigan Wolverines (Previously: #3)
As well as Indiana is swimming, Michigan is still considered the odds-on favorites to take yet another Big Ten title, and for good reason – this roster is outstanding. The Wolverines sliced up Ohio State, then watched freshman Mokhtar Al-Yamani add another 43.2/1:34.7/4:22.8 freestyler to the pile of relay pieces at the Michigan First Chance meet.
2. California Golden Bears (Previously: #2)
Cal lost a major rivalry match to USC, but it’s near-impossible to drop them in the rankings with swimmers like Ryan Murphy‘s and Josh Prenot‘s records in championship meet season. The swimmer to watch now is freshman Andrew Seliskar, who has had a quiet rookie year (by his own lofty standards, at least), but stands to have a huge impact at NCAAs.
1. Texas Longhorns (Previously: #1)
The ‘Horns beat Arizona and TCU, then probably found more competition at their own intrasquad class relay event that featured 18.9 splits from Townley Haas and Brett Ringgold, plus a 19.8 fly split from Joseph Schooling.