ACC Mid-Season Analysis: Three Women’s Contenders and the NC State Men

by Andrew Mering 9

December 20th, 2018 ACC, College, News, Previews & Recaps

Now that all the major mid season invites are complete, pretty much every team in the country has had a meet that they’ve taken seriously. This means that we can get some useful information by comparing team’s times so far. The easiest way to do this is with our Swimulator. Swimulator runs a projection of a meet using best times from this season respecting reasonable event choices and the three event limit (no diving). So far I’ve looked at the national meet for both men and women, but it’s time to start looking at conferences.

Next up: the ACC. Last year the Virginia women cruised to a 233 point win over Louisville. NC State were 112 points back in 3rd. The men’s meet saw a similar lack of drama where the NC State men cruised to 286.5 point win over Louisville.


On the surface, the Louisville/Virginia dynamic looks similar to last year. At this time last year, Louisville had a 1291.5 to 1031.5 lead over Virginia in the Swimulator projections. At the ACC meet that flipped to a 1257.5-1079.5 advantage in swimming points to Virginia. This year Louisville lead with 1181.5 points and Virginia have 1035.5. Based on that alone, it would be easy to say the same script as last year is playing out again this year, only with a bigger advantage to Virginia due to Louisville’s lower projected point total. However, there is a new variable this year: NC State who are 2nd with 1177. Also these aren’t exactly the same Louisville and Virginia teams as a year ago. So who will win this year?

The Case for NC State

After a plague of injuries last season the Wolfpack is back in the running. The 2017 conference champions have 1177 projected points, 4.5 fewer than Louisville. In this type of projection, a margin that close is best thought of as a tie.

NC State’s problems fielding a full team last year hid the fact that they actually swam really well at ACC’s. They picked up a huge 159.5 points over their mid season Swimulator total, and that underrates how well they swam. In the mid season projection last year, star sprinter Ky-lee Perry projected to 53 points. Due to her injury, she scored 0 at ACC’s, so the rest of NC State gained closer to 200 points. Also they managed to improve their mid season projected 265 relay points by 5 at ACCs without their top sprinter Perry.

NC State have the least returning diving points of the top 3 with 60 (Louisville have 70 and Virginia have 98), but the gap can easily be covered by their swim point potential.

NC State are 359.5 points ahead of their total at this point last season. They were 345 points behind Virginia at ACC’s last year, and Virginia graduated a lot. Even a quarter of the points gains they saw last year should be enough to win this meet. If Louisville fall back again and Virginia can’t quite replicate their big rise up the standings, NC State simply holding their seeding might be enough. History and their performance this season say they are well positioned to win the ACC.

The Case for Louisville

Louisville have the most returning individual points from ACC’s last year with 826.5 (756.5 swimming, 70 diving), more than Virginia’s 767 (669 swimming, 98 diving) and NC State’s 630 (570 swimming, 60 diving, though this number doesn’t account for Perry). Louisville have a solid 196 projected points from their freshmen, more than Virginia’s 154, and a bit less than NC State’s 235. That means by returning individual points from ACC’s last year+projected freshmen points from this year the order is Louisville 1024.5, Virginia 921, and NC State 865 (with Perry NC State are about even with Virginia).

Yes, Virginia won decisively last year, but Virginia graduated 319.5 individual points. Louisville graduated 41. NC State graduated 135. While Louisville’s point total under performed projections last year, it was more a function of other teams swimming really well than a bad meet from Louisville. In fact, the Cardinals swam pretty well at ACC’s.

Relative to last year, Louisville was slow at their mid season meet. Virginia and NC State were both fast at their mid season meets. This can either signal improvement/regression from those team’s swimmers, or that this year Louisville aren’t as over seeded as last year. Perhaps Louisville didn’t rest as much at mid season this year, so they have more time drop left than last year.  If that’s the case, the title will may very well be theirs.

The Louisville women have never won an ACC championship since joining the conference in 2014, so a win would be a bit of a breakthrough.

The Case for Virginia

Virginia are in the exact same spot as last year. 1031.5 points last year in December. 1035.5 points this year. If they move up a similar amount again this year, they have a good shot to win.

They graduated a lot more points (319.5) than the replaced with freshmen (154), so it’s possible their similar points total to last year is a bit of a mirage. Moving up might be more difficult than last year. However, it’s not hard to find places where they can pick up points. Virginia is seeded 5th or lower in 3 of the 5 relays. Anna Pang, a 54 point scorer last season, is projected to score 0 after missing the Georgia Invite (she did swim earlier in the fall). Virginia had the #11 recruiting class this year whereas Louisville’s class was un ranked, so Louisville’s freshmen advantage may not persist at conference.

Virginia have won 10 of the last 11 ACC titles. Winning this year won’t be easy, but dropping time can solve a lot of problems. If they drop time at the same rate as last year, they won’t go away quietly.

So who’s the favorite? I’m not sure. Maybe NC State have a slight edge, but there’s a reasonable argument to be made for each of them. If you think any of these three will win, I won’t argue with you. I’ll only disagree with someone who is certain they know who will win.

The Rest

Notre Dame looks like the favorite for 4th with 769.5 points. The big mover vs this points last year is Virginia Tech who have 397.5, noticeably less than the 613.5 they had at this point last year. The 23 points they are getting from their freshmen haven’t come close the replacing the the 145 they graduated, and their seniors project to only 7 points after scoring 106 last year as juniors.

Women’s Data

Current Swimulator Swimulator Last Season Dec 15 Swimming Points 2018 ACC Meet Diving Points Last Year Returning Diving Points
Louisville 1181.5 1291.5 1079.5 70 70
NC State 1177 817.5 977 60 60
Virginia 1035.5 1031.5 1257.5 125 98
Notre Dame 769.5 634.5 688 87 87
Duke 658 614.5 602.5 154 115
UNC 579 731.5 678.5 108 71
Florida St 567.5 545 440.5 138 88
Virginia Tech 397.5 613.5 620 116 104
Pittsburgh 372 389 396 98 53
Georgia Tech 350.5 426.5 353.5 17 17
Miami (FL) 216 212 202 113 59
Boston College 153 150 120 0 0


The men’s title race is less compelling than the women’s. The NC State men have a 256 projected points lead over Louisville. Last year they had a 265.5 point lead at this point and beat them by 286.5 at the ACC meet. The same thing is likely to happen again this year. Both NC State and Louisville were pretty average at their mid season meet indicating that there are unlikely to be any major changes in taper behavior.

Both Louisville and NC State have about a 100 points less than they did at this point last season. This means that the field is closer to them, but both teams picked up so many points at ACC’s last year that the risk of either of them being caught is pretty low. If Lousiville don’t improve, Virginia and Notre Dame are within striking distance, each only about 60 points back.

The real race appears to be for 3rd between Notre Dame, Virginia, and Florida State. Notre Dame have 878.5 projected points and Virginia have 871.5. Virginia beat their projected total last year by 88 and Notre Dame picked up 58.5, so neither team appears to have a major advantage there. However, Notre Dame were really fast at their mid season meet, so it may be more difficult for them than Virginia to drop big chunks of time due to their better seeds.

Florida State fell off precipitously from their mid season mark last year, but with 176 returning diving points, their potential can’t be ignored. Last year they dropped 278 swimming points from their mid season projection. If that happens again they might lose to Georgia Tech. If they can avoid it, they should make some noise in the top 4.

Current Swimulator Swimulator Last Season Dec 15 Swimming Points 2018 ACC Meet Diving Points Last Year Returning Diving Points
NC State 1188 1293.5 1392 65 65
Louisville 932 1028 1132.5 38 38
Notre Dame 878.5 787.5 846 95 12
Virginia 871.5 876.5 964.5 19 19
Florida St 764.5 911.5 633.5 195 176
Georgia Tech 644.5 673 448 56 56
Pittsburgh 520 392 310 14 14
Virginia Tech 494 423.5 509.5 179 74
Duke 446.5 399.5 409 212 212
UNC 335 350 449 119 88
Boston College 200.5 174 137 0 0
Miami 0 0 0 94 94

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4 years ago

Don’t expect much from UVA so again the Hoos can prove you wrong!


ACC fan
4 years ago

UVA swam out of their minds last year. Waaaay above expectations. Sounds like if they are coming in with the same points prediction as last year, they’ll need to have another perfect taper to win. It’ll be great meet!

4 years ago

I feel like a broken record: every year I have to remind you of UVa’s Megan Moroney. She was ill for the week of the Georgia Invite (along with Anna Pang), but she is a good bet to show up with flying colors in February (and March). Both will be major components of Virginia relays, too.

4 years ago

DeSelm not listed….will there be a change this year? Right guy or gal and ACC could be best conference

ACC fan
Reply to  Crusty
4 years ago

Is it possible that he signed an extension last year? Or the year before?

Reply to  Crusty
4 years ago

Coach DeSelm is a great person and arguably the most popular Head Coach in the ACC. All of his opponents will band together and support a contract extension for him! I hope he will get support from the administration in two ways:
1. A new 45 MILLION DOLLAR Aquatic Complex and 2. A 10 year $3 MILLION DOLLAR contract with performance bonuses available for ACC and NCAA TEAM TITLES and for academic TEAM GPA over 2.75.

Reply to  Socrateshatesoliveoil
4 years ago

Ah. Sarcasm, how I love thee.

Pack Mack
Reply to  Socrateshatesoliveoil
4 years ago

Coach DeSelm is a great guy but he sure doesn’t need a new aquatic complex. UNC’s natatorium is better than most of the other ACC members. The facilities at NC State are much inferior to UNC and it’s not holding Coach Holloway back.