2018-2019 NCAA Men’s Power Rankings: Final 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.

Conference Championships brought some major shakeups to our final edition men’s Power Ranks, though our #1 rank continues to be an uneasy split between Texas and Cal.

Much of our top 5 remained stable from our last ranks, but things varied pretty wildly after that. The consensus among our rankers was that this year is especially hard to predict – maybe that’s the product of several new and unproven coaching staffs (Florida, Missouri & Auburn in particular), or the absence of so many reliable stars and point-scorers from the past couple of years. Freshman are set to play really key roles, and their unpredictability is another huge swing factor.

Up top, most of our staff remained with Texas at #1, but almost all expressed some level of unease that we haven’t seen throughout Texas’s four-year NCAA title run.

Biggest risers:

  • Florida State (unranked to #16)
  • Ohio State (#19 to #15)
  • Alabama (#12 to #9)

Biggest fallers:

  • Stanford (#6 to #11)
  • Harvard (#17 to #20)
  • Minnesota (#16 to #19)
  • USC (#7 to #10)

SwimSwam’s Power Rankings are the average of ballots from a panel of our top college swimming reporters. While this should help readers glean which teams are consensus picks at their rank 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.

(Also receiving votes: Miami, Arizona State, Georgia Tech)

#20: Harvard Crimson (Previous Rank: #17)

Harvard qualified 5 swimmers to this meet, and Dean Farris‘ individuals alone should be able to carry the team roughly halfway to a top 20 finish. -SP

Dean Farris has gone off at both the HYP meet and Ivies. Can he keep backing it up? A top 20 spot is certainly within reach. -JA

Farris may have gone for broke at Ivies again, but even if he can’t go faster, he should be a solid scoring option. He’ll need to carry the relays. -KO

I hate that Harvard drops 3 spots after such a spectacular performance at the Ivy League Championships. But, we’ve seen this before, and it’s hard to believe that they’ll recreate most of those times at NCAAs. -BK

#19: Minnesota Golden Gophers (Previous Rank: #16)

Last year, Bowen Becker went 18.69 at Big Tens and we wondered if he’d peaked too early. This year, Bowen Becker went 19.00 at Big Tens and we’re wondering if something is wrong. Terry Ganley is a great sprint coach, and I’m trusting that she’s got Becker ready to peak at the right time. The relays need to form up around Becker and stud breaststroker Max McHughbut diving is going to be a boost for Minnesota. -JA

#18: Arizona Wildcats (Previous Rank: #18)

The Wildcats looked fantastic at Pac-12s. They’re seeded to score a decent amount of points from individual events at NCAAs. They won’t be getting an help from diving points, however, so they’ll likely slide a little from where they are on the scored out psych sheets (they are seeded 14th in swimming points). -SP

#17: Virginia Cavaliers (Previous Rank: #15)

We were high on UVA earlier in the year, largely due to how many points they were projeced to score once you pulled out last year’s seniors from the NCAA results. They’ve taken hits losing first Lewis Burras (transfer) and now Robby Giller (injury), but they have a solid chance of scoring 50-60 points without making any A-finals -RG

Losing Robby Giller hurts, but he didn’t swim at ACCs, either, so UVA’s 13th spot in the scored psych sheets is still relatively accurate to pre-meet projections. -JA

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

The Seminoles charged hard at ACCs, winning the 50 free, 100 free, 100 fly, and 200 free relay. It’s easy to see them either moving up a couple spots, or dropping dramatically, depending on how well they hold their taper. -RG

The projected scoring has FSU pretty high up there, and they earned that with their explosive performance at ACCs. However, they did struggle to swim fast in prelims, which is so important at NCAAs. If you use their prelims times from ACCs and compare them to the results of last year’s NCAAs, the Seminoles would only have advanced to finals in two events, and those times would have come in 14th and 16th in prelims. FSU isn’t slated to score a huge amount of individual points, but this does have implications on their relay swims in prelims, which could end up costing them far more. -SP

#15: Ohio State Buckeyes (Previous Rank: #19)

Even though Ohio State usually slides significantly from seed at NCAAs (without diving, they went -55 from psych sheet points last year), they’re still seeded to score 130 swimming points and have multiple good divers. Paul DeLakis might be in line for a big individual breakout in his sophomore season. -JA

It’s hard to ignore the fact that the Buckeyes are projected to score 130 points, but they have a pretty solid track record of slipping from seed at NCAAs. Last year, they were projected to score 75 points based on the psych sheet…and actually scored 25. -RG

Ohio State is seeded to score the 11th most swimming points, and should get at least some diving points. However, in recent seasons they’ve been a team that peaks for Big Tens, so I’m going to slide them back a couple spots to be safe. On the flip side, the Buckeyes wouldn’t have to outperform the psych sheet by a whole lot to challenge the top 10. -SP

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

Still scratching my head a little over the decision to swap Shaine Casas into the butterflys instead of the backstrokes. The backstroke events do seem a little deeper nationally, but Casas also seems better there, particularly in the 200. The Aggies are projected to score 64 points based on psych sheets, but a whopping 48 of them are from relays: that’s a little concerning to me, assuming there’s going to be quite a bit of variance in relays from psych sheets to actual results. That said, the Aggies are a pretty young team, and finishing top 15 with this core would be awfully exciting for the prospects of the next few years. -JA

#13: Georgia Bulldogs (Previous Rank: #11)

In an ever-changing world, it’s reassuring to know that there a few things you can always count on: death, taxes, and Georgia improving on seed at NCAAs. -RG

UGA has a good history of showing up to race at the NCAAs, so I feel very comfortable saying they’ll outperform the psych sheet. The problem that the Bulldogs are going to run into is that they’re going to be hard-pressed to score many relay points at all. That severely limits the ceiling for a team. -SP

Relay points are going to be thin. But Camden Murphy looks like a star, and Georgia usually shows up well at NCAAs. -JA

#12: Missouri Tigers (Previous Rank: #14)

You never quite know what Mizzou is going to do at NCAAs. They were dominant at SECs, which kind of makes you wonder whether or not they’ll be able to repeat those times in March. -RG

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

Stanford is going to outscore their psych sheet projections (a measly 60 points), but by how much? Abrahm Devine has lots of room to move up, and will boost the relays. But this squad is a little thinner than we anticipated, barring huge points from two good freshmen divers. -JA

Losing Grant Shoults was a big blow to one of the top distance programs in the country, and the Cardinal just don’t seem to have the sprinters this year to pick the relay points they need. -RG

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

It’s been a weird season for USC. Carsten Vissering has been about as expeected, Nikola Miljenic seems to have instantly clicked after transferring from Indiana, but guys like Alexei Sancov and Patrick Mulcare looked pretty off at Pac-12s. -RG

Their Pac-12 results were… perplexing. People like Vissering should keep them afloat, but they may sink even more than 11th. -KO

This roster still has its bright spots, but it has holes too. Notably, the Trojans are seeded 22nd in the 200 free relay, and failed to qualify in the 400 free relay altogether. They finished 5th in both at last year’s NCAAs. Additionally, the Trojans are seeded 12th in the 200 medley relay, an event which they won last year. -SP

Not getting Alexei Sancov into the meet is a bad blow. That’s the #3 recruit in the nation not qualifying where most of our top 15 are projected to score. -JA

#9: Alabama Crimson Tide (Previous Rank: #12)

Alabama coach Dennis Pursley was pretty open with us early in the year about his team’s change in preparation, taking less rest at mid-season in hopes of a bigger taper. So far, it looks like a net win, as ‘Bama projects 7th in swimming points from psych sheets. -JA

Alabama’s non-800 relays stack up well against any other team in the nation. They’re seeded for 132 relay points, which typically is enough for roughly a 12th-place finish. Add in another 35 points or so for Robert Howard and Zane Waddell, and you’ve got a top ten team. -RG

#8: Tennessee Volunteers (Previous Rank: #10)

The Vols have are seeded to score the 10th most swimming points, and as long as their swimmers perform at or close to their seeds, diving should carry them safely into the top 10. -SP

The Tennessee men have two new NCAA qualifying divers to go with a lot of projected swimming points. -JA

#7: Louisville Cardinals (Previous Rank: #9)

Louisville is great at finding diamonds in the rough. Look no further than freshman Mitchell Whyte, who cut his 100 back from 47.7 to 45.3 at ACCs. This is why I haven’t slept on Louisville all year, even as they’ve projected somewhat low in the Swimulator. -JA

Freshman Mitchell Whyte probably had the biggest breakout performance of anyone on a major team during the conference championships season. Senior Zach Harting may be the most interesting man in the NCAA, and watch for some more clutch relay performances by him during his final college swims. -RG

#6: Florida Gators (Previous Rank: #8)

Hey, remember how we said you can’t really count on freshmen to perform at NCAAs? Well, the baby Gators are looking like strong candidates to prove us wrong. If that freshmen wrecking ball of crew of Kieran Smith, Trey Freeman, Bobby Finke, Will Davis, and Kacper Stokowski can keep their momentum going next week, the Gators will be a very real threat to challenge NC State for fourth. -RG

Maxime Rooney looks ready to take a big step back into the limelight. How will this freshman class hold up, and can Bobby Finke win the mile? -JA

The freshmen are yuge. And it may not happen at NCAAs, but Kieran Smith has yet to truly blow up. I will die on this hill. -KO

#5: Michigan Wolverines (Previous Rank: #5)

Michigan went backwards from seed last year by 50 points. My gut says they’ve changed their approach a little, but either way, Stanford’s dropoff has them feeling a lot more secure in the top 5. -JA

“Michigan is fast this year ??!?” – actual text one of my former swimmers sent me the other day. The Wolverines have had one of the top distance squads in the country over the past few years, but they’d been lacking a bit on the sprint side. Big jumps forward by Gus Borges (19.11 50 free) and Miles Smachlo (44.82 100 fly, the top seed) should help the Wolverines manage more than the paltry 50 relay points they netted last year. -RG

I feel good about Michigan’s chances at a top 5 finish this year. Florida, despite performing very well, isn’t quite the threat they were at NCAAs last year. Michigan is only seeded to score 1 less swimming point that Florida, and the Wolverines should grab some diving points, which should boost them past the Gators. -SP

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

ACCs was a rather mixed bag for the Wolfpack, with some of their top swimmers looking great and others’ times being a bit off from where you’d expect, even unrested. Still, they’ve got killer relays, and should pick up big individual points from the likes of Andreas Vazaios, Coleman Stewart, and Justin Ress. -RG

The relay swimmers have stepped up in a big way this season. Justin Ress‘s decision to swap the 200 free for 100 back could be make-or-break. -JA

The Wolfpack is relays are looking great again this year. NC State will be another one of the highest scoring relays teams at NCAAs. They’ve got a few events, like the 100 back, where they’re slated to score huge points. -SP

#3: Indiana Hoosiers (Previous Rank: #3)

The Hoosiers are capable of winning NCAAs, I’ve said it all season, and I’m going to say it again here. That being said, IU has the smallest NCAAs roster of the top 3, and the least room for error. They would have to have a nearly perfect meet in both swimming and diving to pull it off, but it’s possible. They might be the highest scoring diving team at NCAAs, and will be one of the top scoring teams in relays. Additionaly, IU is covered in individual events, with at least one potential/likely A finalist in every event except the 500 free and 400 IM. -SP

Diving points are going to come up huge, even bigger than Texas. IU should have some stacked medleys, and you can’t help but feel we’re in line for a huge Zach Apple explosion at NCAAs after a quiet regular season. -JA

I’ve got Indiana, Cal, and Texas all projected to score about 20 more points each than they did last year, resulting in the exact same finish for the top three as last year. -RG

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

And here we are again, pretty much the exact same place we were last year. Cal will score the most swimming points at NCAAs by far, and again, the question is will it be enough this time? Their returners from last year are looking to be in good position to be even faster this year, and the addition of Reece Whitley should be huge. Cal’s even improved notably in what was their worst relay: the 800 free. At Pac-12s, they swam over 2 seconds faster than their fastest time from last season, and did so without Bryce Mefford, who was a 200 free A finalist at NCAAs last year. -SP

Cal has one of the bigger rosters at NCAAs with the most projected swimming scorers (based on psych sheets) and the most projected swimming points. One guy who could have a massive impact relative to seed: sophomore Trenton Julian, who is seeded to score zero points but is 17th in the 500 free, 18th in the 200 fly and dropped a full second from seed at NCAAs last year in his 200 fly. -JA

Cal has such a talented roster, and they can still make this a very competitive meet. Their 200 strokers are very good, and a final day charge could make things interesting. -KO

From top to the bottom, this is the deepest swim team in the NCAA, with multiple potential scorers in almost every event. If Texas falters at all, Cal would end up winning by a fairly wide margin. -RG

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

Questions abound for the Longhorns, and it seems that they have the highest ceiling, but the lowest floor, among the top three teams.If everyone is healthy, if the freshmen do what they’ve apparently capable of, and if guys like Sam Pomajevich, who just barely qualified, can perform like they should, the Longhorns could win this thing by 40-50 points. More likely, this is going to look like a repeat of last year, where the Texas diving corps pulls through for a narrow victory. -RG

This race is extremely tight. Frankly, my pick comes out of the belief that Texas won’t have a repeat of what was a pretty lackluster NCAA showing last year. A good taper, and I think Texas has too much talent to lose. -JA

I give a Texas team that is at 100% the slight edge for the NCAA title, but I have too many questions about the Longhorns right now to consider them #1. One of those questions is will Sam Pomajevich be able to post peak performances at NCAAs after having to race so much in the past couple weeks just to qualify to swim in the meet? Also, why did Tate Jackson enter 3 inidividual events at Big 12s, then only swim prelims of the 50 and scratch out of the rest of the meet? -SP

I want an upset, but the numbers favor the Longhorns. -KO

Full Ranking Ballots

Rank Jared Braden Robert Spencer Karl
1 Texas Texas Texas Cal Texas
2 Cal Cal Cal Texas Cal
3 Indiana Indiana Indiana Indiana Indiana
4 NC State NC State NC State NC State NC State
5 Michigan Michigan Florida Michigan Michigan
6 Florida Florida Michigan Florida Florida
7 Louisville Tennessee Louisville Louisville Louisville
8 Alabama Louisville Tennessee Tennessee Tennessee
9 Tennessee Stanford Alabama Alabama Alabama
10 USC Georgia USC Missouri Missouri
11 Missouri USC Stanford USC USC
12 Stanford Alabama Georgia Stanford Stanford
13 Georgia Missouri Missouri Georgia Texas A&M
14 Texas A&M Ohio State Florida State Texas A&M Georgia
15 Florida State Virginia Texas A&M Ohio State Ohio State
16 Arizona Texas A&M Minnesota Arizona Virginia
17 Ohio State Minnesota Arizona Virginia Florida State
18 Minnesota Florida State Ohio State Harvard Arizona
19 Virginia Miami Virginia Florida State Harvard
20 Miami Harvard Miami Arizona State Georgia Tech

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William Wallace

How bout them Gators!

How much can CD bench???

Bobby Finke wins the 4im and mile. You heard it here first. Rooney has the potential for top 3 finishes in 100 fly/free, Baqlah same in 200/500. Smith/Freeman/Stokowski can score in all their events. As always they are deep in IM/back and might eek out some B finalists between Lebed/Main/Beach. Relays are a huge question. Rooney is entered in the 100 free/200 fly double… but could he do more damage on 5 relays?

ACC

Y’all really sleep on Mizzou. No way Alabama or USC rank above them.

Benedict Arnold Schwarzenegger

Y’all really sleeping on the phrase “y’all really sleeping on”. It’s dumb and meaningless and should be used more than the million times it’s already been used in these comment sections

Y’all sleeping on sleep. It definitely beats being awake.

IU Swammer

That’s an odd thing to be butthurt about, but ok.

Don Megerle

Agree but not nearly as dumb as the Dean Farris and Joseph Schooling Practice comments.

Polar Bear

@ Don Megerle — love the screen name

Small bird

Realize it’s a busy time of year, but would be really interested to see a quick write up on biggest movers and shakers over the last decade. Michigan winning then getting 13th a few years later then getting back to top 5, NC States rise, Indiana’s recent cementing as a top 5 team, Alabama recently, Auburn, Louisville, Tennessee I think? Just spitballing but would be fun to read.

Big Bird

I heard Texas is pretty good

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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