5 Biggest Upsets of the 2016 Women’s NCAA Championships (Pick ‘Em Stats)

So your NCAA Women’s Pick Em entries bombed. You had Georgia running a distant third, left Danielle Galyer out of your 200 back top 4 entirely, and… well, expecting an upset in that 100 fly now looks pretty silly.

Luckily for you, though, today you can find some solace. We’re looking back at the aggregate picks from all 279 contestants to see which events were the biggest locks, and which were the biggest blindsides to this sample of SwimSwam’s reader-base.

The Upsets

Here are the 5 NCAA Champions with the lowest percentage of winner picks:

  1. Danielle Galyer, Kentucky (200 back) – 0.36%
  2. Brittany MacLean, Georgia (200 free) – 0.72%
  3. Olivia Smoliga, Georgia (100 free) – 2.51%
  4. USC (400 free relay) – 5.38%
  5. Olivia Smoliga, Georgia (50 free) – 9.68%

The aforementioned Galyer was the biggest blindside of the bunch, earning just a single winner pick before taking the event by half a second. (Shout out to entrant Aebllib, who redeemed him or herself from a #275 overall finish by being the lone picker to call Galyer’s shot).

Looking at the numbers, it’s no surprise that Georgia’s team title was such a surprise to so many – Brittany MacLean and Olivia Smoliga combined for 3 of the 5 biggest upsets of our Pick ‘Em Contest.

MacLean earned just two winner picks before taking the 200 free in one of the meet’s most exciting finishes. And Smoliga pulled double-duty, coming back from a sophomore slump to make all but 7 voters in the 100 and 27 in the 50 eat crow for their selections.

For being the #2 seed coming into the meet, USC got very little respect in the 400 free relay, with just 15 total votes. The Trojans proved the doubters wrong in jumping to #4 on our upset list. The voters seemed to expect Pac-12 rival Stanford to be the team to beat, giving them 88% of the winner picks.

Also of note – the final swim left off this list was Rachel Bootsma‘s 100 backstroke, which we noted even before the meet was a surprisingly low swim among winner picks despite Bootsma being a two-time NCAA champ heading into this year. Bootsma won with just 26.16% of the winner picks.

You Called It

Here are the 5 NCAA Champions with the highest percentage of winner picks:

  1. Kelsi Worrell, Louisville (100 fly) – 94.62%
  2. Ella Eastin, Stanford (400 IM) – 90.68%
  3. Lilly King, Indiana (100 breast) – 88.17%
  4. Leah Smith, Virginia (1650 free) – 86.74%
  5. Leah Smith, Virginia (500 free) – 85.30%

What a difference a couple of years can make. Louisville’s Kelsi Worrell was a relatively unheralded prospect out of high school, but by her senior season in the NCAA, she was the biggest lock to win a national title, and by a large margin.

Worrell earned 264 winner picks, meaning just 15 Pick ‘Em entrants voted against her to win the 100 fly title.

Though Worrell was a senior who had an extensive track record at NCAAs, voters weren’t afraid to bet on talented rookies, either. Stanford’s Ella Eastin (400 IM) and Indiana’s Lilly King (100 breast) were the next two locks – Eastin earned all but 26 winner votes in the IM and King all but 33 in the breaststroke.

Virginia’s Leah Smith was the heavily-favored distance swimmer who swept both the 500 and mile with well over 80% of the winner picks. Just outside of this list? Stanford’s 200 medley relay, which gained all but 60 winner picks to be the most-predicted relay title.

Full Winner Pick Rankings

Here is a full rankdown of each event winner, listed from biggest upset to biggest lock, votes-wise. (The numbers before each winner refer to their pre-meet seed).

Rank Event Winner Winner Picks Percentage:
1 200 Back 6 Danielle Galyer Kentucky 1 0.36%
2 200 Free 8 Brittany MacLean Georgia 2 0.72%
3 100 Free 4 Olivia Smoliga Georgia 7 2.51%
4 400 Free Relay 2 USC 15 5.38%
5 50 Free 3 Olivia Smoliga Georgia 27 9.68%
6 100 Back 4 Rachel Bootsma California 73 26.16%
7 800 Free Relay 2 Georgia 169 60.57%
8 200 Free Relay 1 California 187 67.03%
9 200 IM 1 Ella Eastin Stanford 190 68.10%
10 200 Fly 1 Kelsi Worrell Louisville 201 72.04%
11 400 Medley Relay 1 Stanford 214 76.70%
12 100 Breast 1 Lilly King Indiana 218 78.14%
13 200 Medley Relay 1 Stanford 219 78.49%
14 500 Free 1 Leah Smith Virginia 238 85.30%
15 1650 Free 1 Leah Smith Virginia 242 86.74%
16 200 Breast 1 Lilly King Indiana 246 88.17%
17 400 IM 1 Ella Eastin Stanford 253 90.68%
18 100 Fly 1 Kelsi Worrell Louisville 264 94.62%

Team Scores

As evidenced by MacLean’s and Smoliga’s winner pick tallies, the voting crowd was not as high on Georgia as it should have been, and that showed through in total winner picks. Just 5.38% of voters correctly selected Georgia as the team champs.

Stanford, widely favored to win, gained more than twelve times the number of winner picks as the Bulldogs. Here are the top 5 teams, along with the percentage of voters who predicted them into their correct finishing spot:

Team Finishing Place Correct Votes Percentage
Georgia 1st 15 5.38%
Stanford 2nd 86 30.82%
California 3rd 48 17.20%
Texas A&M 4th 33 11.83%
Virginia 5th 0 0.00%

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6 years ago

11/18 events had the top seed winning while MacLean was the longest dawg (sorry) with the 8th seed. It’s hard to understand how the meet was such a large team upset while 55% of the events were won by the dead favourite.

Reply to  Swimdad22
6 years ago

See Stanford relay……

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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