2019-2020 NCAA Men’s Swimming & Diving Power Ranks: 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.

Previous Ranks:

It’s official: the NCAA has canceled the 2020 Swimming & Diving Championships. Bummed? Yeah, us too. But relive what could/would have been in our final edition Power Ranks, including conference champ results.

For posterity’s sake (and for the research and effort we put into our rankings this past week), we’re running our season-ending Power Ranks, because coronavirus can’t take that away from us. Our explanations are written as if the meet is still happening – because when we were ranking, it still was. Stay tuned for more updates on the coming summer season, as well as some more hypothetical NCAA discussion.

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, Denver)

#20: Miami (FL) Hurricanes (Previously Unranked)

We knew Miami returned platform dive specialists David Dinsmore (2nd last year at NCAAs) and Zach Cooper (4th). But we didn’t know they brought in freshmen springboard divers Max Flory and Brodie Scapens, both of whom look like potential scorers. I see Miami scoring 45-50 diving points, and with the top two teams hogging a disproportional amount of the total points this year, I think that’ll be enough to make the top 20. -JA

It’s the final ranking of the season, which means it’s time for my annual tradition of putting Miami 20th. Despite only having a diving team, they finished 22nd last year, and I believe they’re in even stronger position this year. -SP

Dive dove. Four scoring divers here looks like a free ticket to Top 20 Town. – KO

#19: Stanford Cardinal (-5)

This hasn’t been the best season we’ve seen from Stanford. -SP

#18: Tennessee Volunteers (-)

Tennessee generally bleeds points from seed at NCAAs. But they also have two scoring divers that I think will offset that a little bit. -JA

Tennessee has what it takes to make the top 20. A combination of a few individual points, some relay points, and diving points should get them there. -SP

#17: Virginia Cavaliers (-6)

I’m valuing relay points a lot in these tiers where things project to be so close. If there’s one thing Todd Desorbo does well, it’s relays, and I think UVA goes big in a relay or two with their young sprint group. -JA

#16: Missouri Tigers (-7)

Missouri is only projected to score 13 relay points as of now. That has to change if Mizzou is going to beat teams in this #12-#20 tier. They scored almost 70 on relays last year and return more than half their legs, so the pieces are definitely there. -JA

#15: Notre Dame Fighting Irish (+4)

Notre Dame has found its niche in the 200+ free events. Freshman Jack Hoagland has been phenomenal this season. Zach Yeadon has had the best season we’ve seen from him yet. Plus, the Fighting Irish look like they could score in the 800 free relay and 400 medley relay. -SP

A dangerous distance group leads what could be Notre Dame’s best NCAA finish ever; they’ve never placed higher than 23rd at the big meet. – KO

Notre Dame is projected to score 61 of its 66 points in races 400 yards or longer – and none of them are relays. I’m not sure how to weigh that… distance swimmers typically need shorter rest, making a double-taper with ACCs easier to pull off. Then again, distance swimmers also need more of a training base to taper off of, so resting again might carry significant risk. Either way, Notre Dame’s fate is probably going to come down to how its two stud milers do in the evening timed finals heat on Saturday. -JA

#14: Florida State Seminoles (+2)

It’s a weirdly top-heavy NCAA, so things get really murky after the top 11 or so. With relay points counting for so much, and places in this range probably being decided by a few points, I’ll go with the team projected to score almost entirely relay points, even if they’ve moved marginally down from seed the past couple years. -JA

#13: Georgia Bulldogs (+2)

Since 2017, Georgia has improved from seed, on average, better than any team in the men’s NCAA outside of Texas and Cal. They’re a little thin on projected individual scorers, but I’ll trust the guys they do have to get the job done for a top-15 finish. -JA

#12: Arizona Wildcats (-5)

Arizona is a bit of an oddball. They’re projected to score 62.5 points in the first three events and be running in 6th place. But then, they’re without a projected scorer until day 4. They’ve got to figure out some scoring options in that massive gap, maybe Etay Gurevich in either IM. -JA

#11: Alabama Crimson Tide (+6)

Very hard to project what this team will do at NCAAs in year 1 under Coley Stickels. But I put a lot of value on an elite backstroke leg for contending medleys (getting clean water is a godsend for breaststrokers and butterflyers), so I feel good about the ‘Bama relays with Zane Waddell. Note that their 9th seed in the 200 medley is with a missed wall on the freestyle leg, so there’s lots of room to move up from seed. -JA

#10: Arizona State Sun Devils (+2)

ASU’s free relays are carrying this team – in fact, 122 of their 178 psych sheet points are from relays. I’m a little concerned they’ll move down slightly from that number. But there are two reasons for optimism: (1) Youssef Selim is going to provide steady diving points, and (2) the Sun Devils have moved up from seed (albeit marginally) the past two seasons. -JA

#9: Ohio State Buckeyes (+4)

Ohio State is second only to Michigan in how far they’ve fallen off from seeded points at NCAAs over the past three seasons. On the other hand, they have an absolutely loaded diving group, including Lyle Yost, who might make the podium three times as a freshman, and I’m projecting 3 Buckeyes in the top 8 of the platform event. Those two very-contrasting viewpoints have me putting Ohio State pretty much exactly where they’re seeded – a bubble top-10 team. -JA

The Buckeyes should have a well-balanced source of points between relays, individual swimming, and diving. I can’t help but wonder how high Ohio State coud finish if Cameron Craig were competing. Andrew Loy and Paul DeLakis are a great swimming duo. Loy won the 200 free and 200 IM, and was 2nd in the 100 free at Big Tens. DeLakis was runner-up in the 200 free, 200 IM and 200 breast. Freshman diver Lyle Yost is one to watch out for as well, after winning platform, taking 2nd in 1m, and taking 3rd in 3m at Big Tens. -SP

#8: Louisville Cardinals (-)

Louisville deserves our trust after moving up from seeded points the past two years. Mitchell Whyte is going to be really, really good. Nicolas Albiero is going to be even better than that. The relays are a bit of a curiosity to me. The 200 free relay is seeded 11th, but reutrns all four legs from last year’s 10th-place team. The 200 medley was 5th last year and returns three of four legs, but sits only 15th this year due to a DQ at ACCs. Expect both to move up dramatically. -JA

#7: Texas A&M Aggies (-1)

A&M probably hoped for more individual qualifiers, but between Shaine Casas (who has a really open lane to both IM titles right now), their big diving presence, and their sprint freestylers loading up relays, this team will content for top 5. -KO

Big diving points coming from Victor Povzner and Kurtis Mathews. Shaine Casas is outstanding, but has a lot more room to move down from seed that he does to move up. A&M should have a steady trickle of points – with projected scorers in all but four events – and I buy that the relays can move up. -JA

#6: Michigan Wolverines (-3)

Over the past three years, no team has gone backwards more from psych sheet scoring than Michigan, who were -135 last year, -50 in 2018 and -64 in 2017. But this group is much deeper than previous years, and can handle an “off” swim or two. I also think diver Ross Todd will add in a few much-needed points. Most of the points, though, are going to come from relays, where Michigan is 18th in the 400 free relay and 13th in the 400 medley with significant space to move up. -JA

#5: Indiana Hoosiers (-1)

I don’t believe that Indiana has the same kind of diving advantage they’ve had in past years. Their roster is actually building out deeper than it was in the years they were fighting for an NCAA title, but they don’t have the elite talent or relays we’ve gotten used to. -JA

#4: NC State Wolfpack (+1)

A bit of a bold call here – NC State is seeded 8th in points, well outside the second tier of teams and has no real diving presence to speak of. But I trust the Wolfpack to show up at NCAAs, and they’ve dialed in their season plan over the past few years to gear up for NCAA runs from seed. In 2017, they went -66.5 from seed. 2018, they broke even. 2019, NC State went +54. If they add 50-plus to seeds again, I believe they’ll leapfrog the entire second tier of teams, all of whom have nasty habits of sliding badly from psych sheet score projections. -JA

There’s a clear break after the top 2, with NC State, Florida, Indiana, Michigan and Texas A&M in a probable dogfight for 3rd. -BK

#3: Florida Gators (+7)

Last year, Florida went all-out at SECs and failed to live up to their psych sheet scoring with a -81 from seed. They’ll take a step in the right direction in that respect this season, but I don’t think it’ll be enough to get by Michigan or NC State. -JA

#2: Cal Golden Bears (-)

I think Cal and Texas will both rise to the occasion, but Cal’s top-end, potential triple A-finalists put them just ahead. Hugo Gonzalez needs to deliver, though; a repeat of 2018 NCAAs would probably sink the ship. -KO

I can’t help going with Cal. They exceeded my expectations at Pac-12s. Freshman Jason Louser was a pleasant surprise for me, swimming a 3:40.4 400 IM and emerging as a potential NCAA scorer. Importantly, Louser swam that time in prelims, and his time would have been 7th in prelims at NCAAs last year. Cal isn’t going to score diving points, but they’re in the hunt in all relays except the 800 free. Ryan Hoffer, Hugo Gonzalez, Sean Grieshop, Trenton Julian, and Daniel Carr all have the potential to make 3 A finals each. Reece Whitley and Zheng Quah both look likely for 2 A finals each. -SP

Cal is going to surge with every IM and breaststroke event, and their sprint relays are outstanding. But they’ll need a similar explosion to last year’s +158 points from seed showing to make a run at Texas. The biggest swings would be knocking off any of Texas’s three #1-seeded relays. The 400 medley might be the best shot, because Texas is awfully tough in the 400/800 free relays. -JA

#1: Texas Longhorns (-)

Early in the year, I was typically projecting Texas with 80-some diving points. Looking closer at the dive fields, and I think that number could be more like 100+. Jordan Windle might score 60 by himself. The Texas swimmers were hit-and-miss last year, but still improved seeds by 80 points. If they hit similar numbers this year, the diving margin will be way too much for anyone else to overcome. The wild cards are picking the right breaststroker for the medleys, and picking the right swimmers to leave at home. -JA

I think that the swimming teams for Cal and Texas will score a similar number of points, but with Texas now sending 4 divers to the meet, it’s hard to see the ‘Horns losing. -BK

FULL RANKING BALLOTS

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

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JCO
8 months ago

Karl was spot on with where he put NC State

Texas A&M Swim Fan
Reply to  JCO
8 months ago

I’m sure my Aggies would have loved to have had the chance to replace NC State in that #4 slot so they don’t feel so disappointed at having finished there again👍

Swimmer
Reply to  JCO
8 months ago

NC State at 4th is maybe a stretch and they would love to move up however several marquee schools would love to be 4th. Many of those name brand schools have not been near 4th in a very long time.

Aryan Makhija
8 months ago

Auburn was going to be on that list , guess we will just have to wait another year

Jamie
8 months ago

NC State finishes 4th for the 5th year in a row!

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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