2019-2020 NCAA Men’s Swimming & Diving 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.

Our #1-ranking votes are no longer unanimous after a fast fall season for several top programs. The uncertainty after the top two also continues.

Compared to our women’s ranks, which stayed pretty stable from the first edition to the November edition, the men’s ranks saw a bit more fluctuation, though most of our rankers still don’t weigh dual meet results that heavily in the overall scheme of college swimming.

Our biggest risers were Missouri (+5, from 18th to 13th) and Indiana (+4, from 8th to 4th), and we also had Tennessee jump from unranked to #15. Meanwhile Arizona State fell five places and Stanford dropped three.

Season-Opening Ranks Here

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: Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Wisconsin)

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

Zach Yeadon is doing great as expected, and freshman Jack Hoagland is having a huge freshman campaign. I have a good feeling that their freshman class, overall, will deliver come spring. -KO

Notre Dame is really loaded in the mid-distance/distance frees – Zach Yeadon ranks #3 nationwide in the 500 and #1 in the 1000. Freshman Jack Hoagland ranks #2 in the mile and #10 in the 500. Two more rookies project in mile scoring territory, though those ranks are heavily influenced by how few teams have swum miles. Too bad those swims don’t affect relay scoring, or ND would have top 10 potential. -JA

#19 Arizona State Sun Devils (Previous Rank: #14)

Evan Carlson, Ethan Luc and Carter Swift in the sprint frees so far this year: 20.2/20.2/20.3 and 44.2/44.3/44.6. They’re not world-beaters yet, but there’s some depth here for ASU that’s going to come in handy for relays. -JA

#18 USC Trojans (Previous Rank: #19)

Alexei Sancov has had his best swims this year in the 200 free, 200 fly and 200 IM. Maybe that’s a better lineup for him than last year, when USC used him as a 50-through-500 free type and he missed an NCAA invite. -JA

#17 Alabama Crimson Tide (Previous Rank: #15)

New head coach Coley Stickels really hasn’t shown his hand yet this year. We should find out more at invite time. My biggest curiousity is whether ‘Bama can string together a medley relay back-half as good as their Waddell/Bell opening could be. -JA

#16 Minnesota Golden Gophers (Previous Rank: #17)

Max McHugh is completely back on track. The distance group is looking a little better than last year with Jeff Kostoff on staff. -KO

Max McHugh is back and appears to be swimming just fine after an extended absence. He currently leads the nation with a 52.5 in the 100 breaststroke. Gopher diving is always a force, and don’t overlook freshman Jake Butler, who beat returning NCAA qualifier Jeremy Moser on both springboards last weekend. -JA

#15 Tennessee Volunteers (Previous Rank: N/A)

Tennessee is cruising through dual meet season with a 6-0 record and wins over ranked teams Virginia, Louisville and Georgia Tech. Cue the debate over how much dual meets mean. Spoiler alert: it’s not much in college swimming. What means more are times, like Michael Houlie’s 53.0 breaststroke or Alec Connolly‘s 43.5 freestyle. -JA

Dual meets don’t really matter, but they can show that a team is showing more signs of life than expected and Taylor Abbott‘s 15:01 in the mile the other day is certainly a good sign. – RG

#14 Georgia Bulldogs (Previous Rank: #13)

I’m struggling with where to put Georgia. Dillon Downing looks like a taper swimmer, so an early-season 20.5 is no reason to panic. But with how much of Georgia’s relay scoring rides on his sprinting ability, I’m not overly confident in a season-best 46.2 100 free. Place UGA firmly in the wait-and-see category. -JA

Freshman Ian Grum had a big long course summer, and if he can find some short course speed, that’ll go a long in blunting the loss of Javier Acevedo. While his times thus far haven’t been spectacular, we also know that the Bulldogs rarely show their hand early in the season. -RG

#13 Missouri Tigers (Previous Rank: #18)

No question who our early season Swimulator Champs are. Mizzou currently projects to second nationally with 315.5 points after graduating every single individual point-scorer from last year. Keep an eye on sophomores Danny Kovac and Jack Dahlgren, who were both outside of scoring as rookies but project as three-event scorers in current national ranks. -JA

Suiting up for every meet does mean that their Swimulator points are quite inflated at the moment, but it also arguably helps give us a better idea of what the Tigers are capable of at the end of the season. What it doesn’t tell us is whether or not they’ll be able to focus on SECs and still improve at NCAAs or not. – RG

#12 Arizona Wildcats (Previous Rank: #10)

We still haven’t seen David Schlicht, who scored 22 individual points last year, and there’s still no response from Arizona as to whether he’s taking an Olympic gap year. The top Wildcat so far has been sprinter Marin Ercegovic, who sits 7th in national ranks in the 100 free (43.88). -JA

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

They got roughed up by a Duke team that rose to a challenge, but Shaine Casas is a rockstar and their freestylers look strong. Andres Puente is a quiet but impactful addition. -KO

Adam Koster has been solid to start the season, and it looks like he’ll be sliding over to fill the butterfly relay spot left by graduating Angel Martinez. This is largely the same team that finished 17th last year, and I’ll just use this space to remind everyone again that only 13 points separated 10th from 17th, meaning that it wouldn’t take much breaking right for the Aggies to push toward the top ten. – RG

#10 Stanford Cardinal (Previous Rank: #7)

Jack Levant swam fly at the triple distance meet and struggled, including a 1:58 in the 200 fly. But, it’s a long season, and he’s still got time to get back on track – and will need to for Stanford to move up the rankings. -BK

True Sweetser is redshirting – that’s new since our last round of ranks. Luckily, he doesn’t impact their relays, but he was about as reliable a double-digit NCAA point-scorer as you could find, with top 12 mile finishes in every collegiate season. Jack LeVant hasn’t looked like himself, and he’s essential for a top 10 finish. -JA

#9 Virginia Cavaliers (Previous Rank: #11)

Virginia is swimming great – they check in at #5 in our Swimulator projections. UVA was 11th at NCAAs in both medleys last year. This season, they have the nation’s top 100 backstroker (Joe Clark, 46.5), 3rd-ranked 100 breaststroker (Keefer Barnum, 53.0), and 2nd-ranked 100 flyer (Cooper Wozencraft, 46.9). Toss in the freestylers, where freshmen Jack Wright and Jack Walker look great, and this UVA team is going to blow out their 46 total relay points from last season. -JA

Sure, their times are distorted a bit by the fact that everyone was suited up at the Trojan Invite, but the Cavaliers were fairly quiet early in the season last year too before progressively improving as the season continued. As long they get some contributors from that massive freshman class (and there’s every reason to think they will), Virginia should vie for a top ten spot again. – RG

#8 Louisville Cardinals (Previous Rank: #6)

Louisville’s Swimulator ranking (11th) is aided by the fact that they have four milers projected to score based on how few teams have swum miles this season. On the other hand, Louisville only currently projects for 26 relay points, which they should far outpace come NCAAs. -JA

The Cardinals have relied largely on top-end strength and strong relays over the past few years, and the core has largely done about as well as expected early in the season. Still, Andrej Barna has yet to swim this season, and they really need him to solidify those all-important relay points. Keep an eye on Ilia Sibirtsev; the world juniors medalist has been fairly quiet so far, but could show something at the mid-season invite.

#7 Ohio State Buckeyes (Previous Rank: #5)

The Buckeyes have all the components for highly competitive relays. They have excellent top end speed from Cameron Craig, Paul Delakis, and Drew Loy. Freshman Thomas Watkins and sophomore Jason Mathews look like they could be dark horses this season as well. -SP

Ohio State really hasn’t shown much in dual meet season. They could rocket right back into the top 5 if they swim decently well at invites, but there just isn’t enough production so far to keep them there at this point. -JA

#6 Florida Gators (Previous Rank: #9)

Kieran Smith is going ridiculous sprint free times right now, and Eric Friese is doing well in his rookie (and first-ever yards) campaign. -KO

Anyone splitting 18.6/42.8 at this point in the season would be noteworthy. When it’s a 400IMer doing it, though, it’s just completely ridiculous. Sure, Kieran Smith can’t carry this team to a 5th-place finish all on his own, but last year the Gator men managed to do a lot better than initially projected, so I’m feel pretty bullish about this team right now. -RG

#5 Michigan Wolverines (Previous Rank: #4)

The Wolverines are looking like they’re going to have one of their best NCAAs in awhile. Freshman Cam Peel is ahead of my pre-season expectations. -KO

Was it only 7 years ago this team finished in the top three in all three free relays at NCAAs? The Wolverines are well-situated in breaststroke, IM, and distance, and that’ll carry them far. But it’d be great if they could find a 4th sprint freestyler to complement Gus Borges, Cam Peel, and Miles Smachlo. James Jones is no longer on the roster, and it would’ve been neat to see him finally have a break-out season to end his NCAA career.

#4 Indiana Hoosiers (Previous Rank: #8)

There are probably four or five teams with legit shots at nabbing 3rd at NCAAs, and of those teams, I like what I’ve seen from the Hoosiers the best. They’ve got one of the more balanced teams, and Brendan Burns holding the 3rd-fastest time in the 200 fly so far this season looks promising. -RG

Senior Mohamed Samy is stepping up in a big way, with three swims already ranked in the top 3 nationally. #1 overall recruit Brendan Burns looks as good as advertised, and I’m much more confident about IU than I was in our last round of ranks. -JA

#3 NC State Wolfpack (Previous Rank: #3)

Swimulator ranks don’t really tell the full story, as quite a few of NC State’s top dogs went to the Greensboro Pro Swim Series and put their focus on long course rather than college dual meets. Early on, I’m very impressed with Hunter Tapp, who is already in striking distance of his personal bests in the relay-distance freestyles. He’s been 20.4/44.2/1:37.6 this season, and dropping from his 19.9/43.1/1:36.1 at mid-season would mean the world to some heavily rebuilding Wolfpack relays. -JA

I see the rest of the staff has put NC State 3rd, and in the immortal words of Michael Bluth, “I have no problem with that.” But, NC State’s success this looks to be heavily dependent on how well their highly-touted freshman class develops, especially the sprinters they’ll need to reload the relays, and we’ll see if they can pop a few big swims at the mid-season invite. -RG

#2 Texas Longhorns (Previous Rank: #2)

Honestly, it feels a little weird to see Texas swimming this fast this early in the season. In fact, our Swimulator database goes back to the 2011 season, and only twice were they ranked in the top three at this point in November. For now, we’ll assume this bodes well for the Longhorns. -RG

Texas looks really deep in the free relays. Their lead in the current Swimulator (392.5 points to second-place Mizzou’s 315.5) includes 17 different projected scoring swimmers. At least one of those guys is probably not going to NCAAs to make room for Texas’s three returning NCAA scoring divers, but that’s still a net points gain for the Longhorns. -JA

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

Zheng Quah is scary fast right now. Their sprinters have been on, Hugo Gonzalez bolsters their already impressive IM group, and Reece Whitley looks very dangerous. -KO

Cal, yet again, has all their bases covered (diving notwithstanding). Hugo Gonzalez looks poised to deliver for his new team after sitting out a full season. -SP

I’ve been moderately concerned about Hugo Gonzalez in the 400 IM. A 3:48 over the weekend at Triple Distance is pretty reassuring – it ranks #2 among NCAA swimmers this season. A low-key name to watch: sophomore Chris Jhong. He was four tenths out of an NCAA invite in the 400 IM last year, and has already been three seconds faster (3:50.0 compared to 3:53.0) than he was last fall. -JA

It’s been a quiet season thus far for Cal, but the results at the Triple Distance meet this past weekend were nearly enough to keep them at #1. I certainly am not going to argue if you prefer Cal ahead of Texas at this point. -RG

FULL RANKING BALLOTS

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

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Joseph Milinovich

Wisconsin destroyed Minnesota in Minneapolis and only gets 1 vote to be 20th? Something doesn’t seem right about that.

“destroyed” – it was 10 points. That’s less than the difference between flipping winners on 1 relay.

It takes about 50 points to get top 20 at men’s NCAAs. Lay out your case for where you think Wisconsin is going to get substantially more points than that. Reminder: they scored 7 last year, all from a single swim by Cam Tysoe.

I think Wisconsin will be somewhere from 20th-25th at NCAAs, so right on the cusp. I can get to about 35 or 40 possible points for them, but the leap to 50 hasn’t been shown at this point.

swimmer

It was 54 points

You’re right, women’s meet was 10 points.

Still, for teams around this 20th-30th placing, dual meets are an even worse indicator of NCAA performance. For top teams where the “depth” translates to “NCAA points,” it tells you a little bit more. But, for teams like Wisconsin and Minnesota, basically 6 out of the 16 or so guys who race at the dual meet matter when it comes to NCAAs. Minnesota’s top 6, especially with McHugh looking like he’s going to be fine, still looks a little better than Wisconsin’s for NCAA scoring.

I don’t think it’s a huge gap, though.

Swimmer68

And who else would Minnesota’s top 6 be? Of course McHugh looks strong and Kelley has thrown up strong times in distance events, but aside from some strong early season swims from Gavin Olson I see a lot more top end depth from Wisconsin with the likes of Tysoe, Novinski, Mao, Back, Milinovich and others

WIswimfan

That was the women’s meet point differential.

SwimFan49

These rankings aren’t based on duals – projecting NCAA finishes.

Person

I do agree that Minnesota seems a little over rated. McHugh is shaping up to be their only NCAA qualifier. That being said he could possibly win two events…. But they don’t have the talent to score any relays even with McHugh. No one has broken 21 for them on an open 50 freestyle. That doesn’t bode well for relays.

Meeeeeee

still better than Purdue

Greg

Swimswam, why do you hate [my team]? You didn’t mention [swimmer on my team].

dmswim

Everyone is sleeping on [X swimmer]. They will shock the world this season!

JP input is too short

Watch out for [Dean Farris]!

Right Dude Here

You know, we joke, but Max McHugh was this exactly last year, complete with the comments.

Mommabear

I think your tone and condemnation of the first posters comments are unnecessary. He questioned the rankings and Braden provided an answer. Why try and belittle the poster. EVERY parent would love to see their child and their child’s team recognized for their hard work and success. Your comment infers that only the top swimmers and teams are worth notice by Swimswam. As there are so few outlets for swimming news, it is my hope that Swimswam would recognize more, not less, of the teams on the build and their successes. While Swimswam did cover the Gopher/Badger border battle, despite an overwhelming win by the Badgers, most of the news was on Max’s swims. He is a talented kid and… Read more »

Landrew

Cool

IU Swammer

Lots of movement. The battle for 3rd could be insane. Mikey Cavillo is filling in nicely for Bringar in dual meets. Hopefully, he can translate that into a couple fistfuls of championship points.

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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