We’re into the first day of individual events at the women’s Big Ten Championships, so between prelims and finals, it’s time to take a look at how each team is set up for tonight’s point-scoring session.
For those who aren’t very familiar with swimming terminology, we’ll talk a lot about swimmers “up” and “down.” “Up” refers to athletes qualified in the top 8 and swimming in the championship final. “Down” refers to athletes qualified for the B final in places 9-16.
A conference that wasn’t all that close last season is looking a bit more exciting through two sessions in 2015. In fact, our predicted top 3 teams were nearly identical in their qualifiers this morning.
Defending conference champs Minnesota and new challengers Michigan qualified the exact same number of swimmers for each A and B final – down to a person. Both teams have 2 up and 1 down in the 500, 2 up in the 200 IM and 1 up, 1 down in the 50 free.
Last year’s runners-up Indiana were nearly identical themselves. They matched the Gophers and Wolverines in the 500, but took off with 2 up and 2 down in the 200 IM. But the 50 free will sting the Hoosiers as they didn’t qualify anyone to score points.
Predicting how each team will fare brings up some interesting points. In the 500 free, Indiana should be wracking up monster points, holding the top 2 seeds. But both Minnesota (school record-holder Kiera Janzen in 7th) and Michigan (stud freshman Gillian Ryan in 6th) have low seeds who should move up considerably.
Things are flipped in the 200 IM, where Michigan sits 1st and 3rd but will have to hold off big IU and Minnesota threats.
It’s fair to guess that the 200 free relay tonight will be another blow to the Hoosiers, unless they can summon up some scoring-level 50 freestylers in the few hours between sessions. Helping their cause, though, is that Wisconsin – not Minnesota or Michigan – is probably the favorite to win that relay after putting three swimmers in the A final of the 50 free.
Speaking of the Badgers, this looks like a Wisconsin team that’s got enough sprinters to contend for relay titles, but probably not enough depth to compete for a team title. This team is doing just enough to undercut that narrative a little, though, and actually has just one less point-scorer lined up than the three programs mentioned above.
Flying under the radar is Penn State, which has nobody seeded inside the top four, but put 3 swimmers up and 4 down and should reap big point benefits (and be quite strong on tonight’s relay event after finishing four swimmers in the top 11 in the 50 free).
It’s worth noting that Iowa is having a consistently good showing thus far, putting a swimmer into two of the three A finals.
Tonight’s final will also include 1-meter diving, where Purdue and Minnesota have typically been very strong.
(Does not include 1-meter diving)
And here’s a quick recap of the team scores at the moment. These scores include only the two relays swum last night:
1. Michigan – 68
2. Wisconsin – 66
3. Minnesota – 62
4. Indiana – 58
5. Penn State – 56
5. Purdue – 56
7. Iowa – 46
8. Northwestern – 42
8. Ohio State – 42
10. Illinois – 36
11. Rutgers – 24
11. Nebraska – 24
13. Michigan State – 16