2017-2018 Men’s NCAA Power Rankings: November Edition

As in previous years, 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.

With NCAA mid-season invites starting this weekend, it’s time for our second shot at power ranking the NCAA programs. There’s a big shakeup at the top this week, with 3 of 4 voters selecting a new #1, and there’s also some tight battles going on for spots 5-8.

We’re introducing a new format for our Power Rankings this fall: a committee system where we average out the top 20 ballots of multiple SwimSwam writers to come up with our official ranking order. While this should help readers glean which teams are consensus picks at their rank (say, this week’s #1 team) and where in the order things get fuzzy and more subjective, bear in mind that these rankings are not an opportunity to personally attack any specific writer.

With that said, onto our second rankings for the 2017-2018 season:

Also receiving votes: Utah, Miami (FL), UNC

#20: Florida State Seminoles (Previous Rank: N/A)

Despite not having a lot of recognizable names, Florida State has the 6th-ranked 800 free relay and 200 free relay this year. That’s courtesy of senior Chad Mylina potential individual sprint scorer. -JA

#19: Minnesota Golden Gophers (Previous Rank: N/A)

They’ve been largely ignored, and I’ll be interested to see what they do at their invite. -SP

Conner McHugh says the Golden Gophers are under the radar and don’t really mind it. If he keeps beating big international contributors like Jacob Montague head-to-head, his Gophers won’t be under the radar for much longer. -JA

#18: Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Previous Rank: N/A)

Freshman distance swimmer Zach Yeadon looks to be the real deal this year. -BK

#17: South Carolina Gamecocks (Previous Rank: #11)

No Brandonn Almeida, and no information about his whereabouts, leaves enough uncertainty to drop the Gamecocks. -BK

The distance group is still good, but Almeida is probably the difference between South Carolina finishing closer to 10th or 20th. -JA

#16: Tennessee Volunteers (Previous Rank: #17)

Kyle Decoursey ranks 5th nationwide in the 50 and Sam McHugh third in the 400 IM. There’s some serious overlooked talent on this Tennessee roster; it just depends on how well it shows up come postseason. -JA

#15: Purdue Boilermakers (Previous Rank: #14)

Purdue already has 4 NCAA B cuts this season. If that means they have the potential to score in more than one individual swimming event at NCAAs (they scored in one event last year), then they could actually be looking at finishing closer to the top 10, considering their diving almost takes them there by itself. -SP

#14: Auburn Tigers (Previous Rank: #15)

Dual meets aren’t everything, but they beat Alabama pretty handily. Peter Holoda and Zach Apple are a great sprint duo, and Auburn has some strong divers to boot. -JA

#13: Louisville Cardinals (Previous Rank: #12)

Marcelo Acosta went nuts over the weekend and blasted a nation-leading 14:45 in the mile. And the Cards hit the fastest 800 free relay time nationwide, too, and it’s a good bet a number of fairly-dedicated swimming fans couldn’t name half their relay members. -JA

#12: Texas A&M Aggies (Previous Rank: #13)

Sure, that upset of Texas isn’t exactly an omen of a coming NCAA title run, but the Aggies look quite solid with the combination of backstroker Brock Bonetti and breaststroker Mauro Castillo Luna ranking highly in the NCAA. -JA

#11: Michigan Wolverines (Previous Rank: #16)

Michigan’s Ricardo Vargas Jacobo is one of only 3 swimmers sub-9 in the 1000 free thsi year – and he’s only a freshman. The Wolverines have the best distance group in the country early on this year. -BK

Going into this past weekend, Michigan had faster free relay times than NC State, and they’ve been looking better than expected. -RG

#10: Arizona State Sun Devils (Previous Rank: #10)

What a world we live in: Arizona State is ranked in the top 10 for a second consecutive month while Arizona goes completely unranked. -JA

ASU has looked great so far this season, but I would need to see them good performances across the board at the Texas Invite to consider them a top 10 team. -SP

#9: Georgia Bulldogs (Previous Rank: #8)

It’s hard to gauge exactly how big of a blow, if it even is one at all, Gunnar Bentz breaking his collarbone is. For right now I feel comfortable moving Georgia out of the top 10, but I’m looking at it as more of a temporary thing, until I can see how his recovery is coming along. -SP

#8: Alabama Crimson Tide (Previous Rank: #9)

I was skeptical of Alabama in the first round of rankings, but I can’t ignore dual meet times of 1:18 in the 200 free relay and 3:09 in the 400 medley relay, and what that means about the team as a whole. -SP

Did you know Alabama leads the nation in the 400 medley relay by a full second? With Laurent Bamsthey might be the best ‘breaststrokerless-team-filling-breaststroke-spot-with-versatile-sprinter’ in the nation. And that group surprisingly comprises almost all of the best teams in the nation. -JA

#7: USC Trojans (Previous Rank: #5)

Carsten Vissering training on his own in Australia for half the year scares me, especially when he was the key advantage in my prediction of USC as NCAA title favorites in the 400 medley relay. But Dylan Carter is swimming great and Robert Glinta is the real deal in a backstroke group that holds 3 of the 4 fastest 100 times in the nation this year along with the top 2 times in the 200.

#6: Stanford Cardinal (Previous Rank: #7)

Grant Shoults, True Sweetser and the distance crew look great. Abrahm DeVine has the nation’s fastest 200 IM time so far by half a second. -JA

#5: Indiana Hoosiers (Previous Rank: #6)

Some great performances early in the season, and if these rankings were just based on who is “hottest” right now, the Hoosiers would be in the top three. Still, not sure they’re going to have enough depth to crack the top four at NCAAs. -RG

Maybe beating Texas isn’t the rare achievement it looked like way back in October. But Blake Pieroni looks great and Ian Finnerty could take advantage of a wide open national breaststroke race – if he can show up for NCAAs. -JA

#4: NC State Wolfpack (Previous Rank: #4)

I know [picking NC State 3rd] will be outrageous to plenty of people, but NC State is deep, they’ve got the individual performances, and their relays are looking spectacular this season. I’m sure a lot of people would say Florida is better than NC State, but I’ve now lined the 2 teams up next to each other 2 separate times, and I don’t see how Florida is the better team. -SP

The relays are coming together something special, with #1 ranks nationally in the 200 medley and 400 free. The big question: what does Jacob Molacek swim? In three meets this year, he’s swum 100 fly twice, 100 breast twice, 100 back once, 100 free once and 50 free once individually. -JA

#3: Florida Gators (Previous Rank: #3)

The Gators have 3 of the top 7 times in the nation in the 200 free, and that’s not even counting Caeleb DresselWatch out for that 800 free relay come post-season -JA

They were 4th in my first ranking, and I haven’t seen a reason to change my mind yet. -SP

#2: Texas Longhorns (Previous Rank: #1)

Trying not to overreact to the dual meet loss to Texas A&M (sans Joseph Schooling), but Cal has shown more early in the year than Texas has. -BK

Chances are they they’ll finish 1st or 2nd, but they need to show some signs of life, especially given how strong California and Florida have been. -RG

Right now the biggest thing for me regarding Texas is their relays. I see no reason to be excited about any of their relays as of this point in the season, especially the medley relays. Until I see evidence Texas can overcome the loss of Jack Conger and Will Licon on their relays, they’re not getting back to #1. -SP

Texas will be fine. They’ve earned my trust and I’m keeping them #1 despite a whole slew of dual meet losses. They looked great at their intrasquad and are presumably swimming tired at the moment. It won’t take much more than a month for the Longhorns to blast some invite times and put themselves back into consensus #1 territory. -JA

#1: California Golden Bears (Previous Rank: #2)

What Cal loses in Ryan Murphy’s graduation they make up for with their butterfly group. They have the 3 fastest 100 yard flys and 2 fastest 200 yard flys in the nation so far this year. Justin Lynch is really coming into his own as a senior (#1 in the nation in the 100 fly and 100 free). The make-or-break moment for Cal will be who they use on the backstroke leg of their mid-season invite. If they can find a 46 there, they’ve got a chance at upsetting Texas in March -BK

Ryan Hoffer hasn’t even looked good yet and it barely even matters. Andrew Seliskar leads the nation by more than four seconds in the 400 IM, and arguably his chief competition is coming back from a broken collarbone. Plus Cal is very strong in the breaststrokes, where the rest of the top 4 are all legitimately weak. -JA


Full Ranking Ballots

Rank Jared Braden Karl Spencer
1 Texas California California California
2 California Texas Florida NC State
3 NC State Florida Texas Texas
4 Florida Stanford NC State Florida
5 Indiana USC Indiana Indiana
6 USC Indiana Stanford USC
7 Stanford NC State USC Stanford
8 Alabama Georgia Michigan Alabama
9 Georgia Alabama Alabama Louisville
10 Arizona State Texas A&M Auburn Texas A&M
11 Louisville Arizona State Arizona State Arizona State
12 Michigan Michigan Georgia Georgia
13 Texas A&M Auburn Tennessee Purdue
14 Auburn Purdue Texas A&M Michigan
15 Tennessee Louisville Purdue Auburn
16 South Carolina South Carolina Louisville Tennessee
17 Purdue Tennessee Florida State South Carolina
18 Minnesota Notre Dame Notre Dame Notre Dame
19 Utah Minnesota South Carolina Minnesota
20 Notre Dame Miami (FL) UNC Miami (FL)

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Steve Nolan
3 years ago

Texas just got their first win of the season, clearly they should be unranked.

3 years ago

“bear in mind these rankings are not an opportunity to personally attack any specific writer.” How can you expect me to not personally attack someone just because they have a different opinion then me?

Steve Nolan
Reply to  50free
3 years ago

I’m just waiting for the post where they do give us permission to go on the attack. I’ve got a whole folder of things already written up.

Reply to  Jared Anderson
3 years ago

Spicy move Jared.

j pine
3 years ago

Technically if the Texas Orange-White intrasquad was an official meet, they would have plenty Top 10 times. Especially from Joseph Schooling (1:41.77 200 fly, 19.32 50 free, 43.01 100 freestyle relay leadoff) Don’t think their recent dual meet showings are a cause for concern

ct swim fan
Reply to  j pine
3 years ago

Maybe the bulkhead was in the wrong spot.

Reply to  ct swim fan
3 years ago

Nah, that only happens at A&M.

crooked donald
Reply to  j pine
3 years ago

The legend of unofficial Joe Schooling swims grows.

Reply to  crooked donald
3 years ago

Except the meet was official. So this would be the official Joe Schooling.

j pine
Reply to  Person
3 years ago

I mean there are official times posted by Texas so…

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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