5 Big Things From 2014 M. NCAA’s #3: Relay Jumps Warp Team Scoring

One of the biggest stories of the opening day of the 2014 Men’s NCAA Championships was the overwhelming number of relay DQ’s, and how their immediate impact on the team race.  When the dust settled after the first session, nine relays had been disqualified in the morning for early takeoffs, including Arizona’s 400 medley relay and NC State’s 200 free relay, both likely top three relays.  That night, four more 200 free relays got the ax, including B-final winner Alabama.  By the end of day two, a whopping ten scoring relays had missed out on points due to their exchange mishaps.  This is the opposite of what we saw at the women’s championships, shown by Jared Anderson earlier today, where the average relay exchange was pretty slow across the board.

To see what the meet would have looked like without all of the upheaval, we plugged back in every disqualification based on their overall time had they not jumped, and adjusted the places of the top 16.  That includes bumping teams from the A-final to the B-final, or out of the B-final entirely.  The “Net Change (If No DQ’s” is the total change in that team’s score if there were to be no relay jumps call in any relay.

Place

Team

Score

DQ Points Lost

Net Change (If No DQ’s)

Total (If No DQ’s)

Place (No DQ’s)

1

Cal

468.5

0

468.5

1

2

Texas

417.5

-4

413.5

2

3

Florida

387

-6

381

3

4

Michigan

310

-26

284

4

5

Georgia

259

-6

253

6

6

Auburn

230

-24

22

252

7

7

Arizona

198.5

-68

64

262.5

5

8

USC

182

 -8

6

188

8

9

Stanford

155

-4

151

9

10

Indiana

141

-4

137

11

11

Louisville

129

-22

107

13

12

Alabama

121.5

-18

4

125.5

12

13

NC State

113.5

-30

28

141.5

10

14

Florida State

105

-10

0

105

14

15

Tennessee

98

-2

96

15

16

Missouri

95

-10

85

16

The only artistic liberty we took here was bumping the Arizona men to a second place finish in the 400 medley relay.  They were DQ’ed in prelims without top sprinter Bradley Tandy on the anchor leg, and with their first three legs (Mitchell Friedemann, Kevin Cordes, and Giles Smith) all looking like they went less than max effort.

Obviously, this is just for fun to see what might have been, as there are some factors that we can’t account for.  A clear example is Michigan’s 200 freestyle relay.  If NC State doesn’t jump in the morning, Michigan gets stuck in consols, and they probably keep Kyle Whitaker on the relay at night, rather than essentially conceding the relay and taking the automatic 22 points.  Having Whitaker as the fourth leg would all but ensure they would have finished faster than 1:19.14 at night.  

In addition, a lot of times, this is a case where second order effects are greater than first order effects.  While losing points is a big deal, the momentum factor can be even bigger.  NC State, an upstart program looking to finish in the top ten for the first time in decades, missed out on a potential top four relay on the first morning when two swimmers left early on their preliminary 200 free relay, much like the Florida State Seminoles did last year.  Although Simonas Bilis was outstanding all weekend, the Wolfpack seemed generally flat after that DQ until they rebounded nicely on day three.  Without that DQ, they very likely would have been in the top 10.

The biggest “loser” here, though, was undoubtedly Arizona, who lost somewhere between 65 and 75 points after jumping on both of their medley relays.  Those two mistakes immediately took Arizona out of contention for a top five finish, and–if the stars aligned correctly–a potential NCAA record in the 400 medley relay.  On the other end of spectrum were the Louisville Cardinals, who benefitted big time NC State’s and Florida State’s misfortunes in the 200 free relay.  The Cardinals were initially sitting 18th, but after six scoring teams were too quick on an exchange, Louisville found themselves taking the top spot in the B-final, giving them 18 points they wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Here are the real point totals (“old”) of each relay, as well as the potential ones (“new”) if no early relay takeoffs were called:

200 Free Relay

400 Medley Relay

200 Medley Relay

400 Free Relay

Old

New

Old

New

Old

New

Old

New

Cal

40

40

Cal

40

40

Cal

40

40

Auburn

40

40

Texas

34

34

Florida

34

32

Texas

34

32

Cal

34

34

Auburn

32

32

Texas

32

30

Auburn

32

30

NC State

32

32

Arizona

30

28

Georgia

30

28

Florida State

30

28

Texas

30

30

Florida

28

26

USC

28

26

Florida

28

26

Alabama

28

28

UNLV

26

24

Florida State

26

18

Georgia

26

24

USC

26

26

Michigan

24

2

Michigan

24

22

Alabama

24

22

Florida

24

24

Louisville

18

0

Alabama

22

10

Arizona

0

34

Tennessee

22

22

Tennessee

14

14

Louisville

18

14

Missouri

18

18

Ohio State

18

18

Ohio State

12

12

NC State

14

12

Michigan

14

14

Louisville

14

14

Stanford

10

6

Indiana

12

8

Penn State

12

12

UNLV

12

10

Minnesota

8

4

Missouri

10

0

NC State

10

10

Arizona

10

8

NC State

0

30

Penn State

8

6

Tennessee

8

8

Michigan

8

6

Alabama

0

18

Tennessee

6

4

USC

6

6

Georgia

6

4

USC

0

8

UNLV

4

0

UNLV

4

4

Penn State

4

0

Florida State

0

10

Arizona

0

34

Kentucky

2

2

Stanford

2

2

Texas A&M

0

22

Auburn

0

24

Minnesota

0

12

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About Morgan Priestley

Morgan Priestley

A Stanford University and Birmingham, Michigan native, Morgan Priestley started writing for SwimSwam in February 2013 on a whim, and is loving that his tendency to follow and over-analyze swim results can finally be put to good use. Morgan swam competitively for 15+ years, primarily excelling in the mid-distance freestyles. While …

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