Last week we released a hypothetical midseason NCAA invite list, with Tennessee and Cal leading the way with 17 projected individual qualifiers. Today, we score out those invite lists to get a look at how those programs stack up at a hypothetical NCAA meet. Despite having the third largest team, it is the defending champion Virginia Cavaliers who sit atop the projected standings.
Last year, Virginia won the program’s first-ever national championship in dominant fashion, scoring 491 points, 137 points clear of their ACC rival and NCAA-runner up NC State. Virginia was led by now-graduated Paige Madden, who won all three of her individual races and swam on the Cavaliers’ NCAA Champion 800 free relay and runner-up 400 free relay. The third place trophy went to the Texas Longhorns, who scored 344.5 points, while the fourth place trophy went to Cal with 290.
If this year’s midseason points projections are any indication of how NCAA’s will pan out, the Cavaliers will be challenged more for the title than last season. UVA tops the rankings with 395 points, but three other programs also project above 300 points, with Alabama, Stanford and NC State close on the Cavaliers’ heels.
The big surprise is the Alabama Crimson Tide sitting with the second-most projected NCAA points with 333 points. One of the big storylines of the NCAA offseason was how Margo Geer would fare in her first season as head coach at Alabama after being hired with limited coaching experience. Thus far, Geer and her staff, which includes US Short Course Worlds assistant coach Ozzie Quevedo, seem to be quieting the critics.
Scored “Psych Sheet Points”
Note: score projections include swimming only and do not account for potential diving points.
|25||William & Mary||11|
|27||San Diego St||6.5|
|30||Missouri St (W)||3.5|
A few interesting notes:
- Despite only having nine projected individual qualifiers, Stanford is clearly back in the title hunt. The Cardinal check in with the third most projected points, with 320.5. A reloaded roster dotted with Olympians has returned to Palo Alto and the Card seem determined to prove that last year’s 9th place showing was a fluke. How much better is this team? Last year at this time Stanford was projected to score only 66.5 points at NCAAs, making them the “most improved” (in terms of projected points added) team year over year.
- Cal and Tennessee, who we revealed yesterday are tied for the most projected qualifiers with 17, both sit outside of the top 4. Tennessee sits in 6th with 249 projected points and Cal sits in 8th with 229 projected points. The projections have markedly different meanings for each program, however. At last year’s NCAAs Tennessee finished in 10th, so a 6th place projection is a huge step in the right direction, while Cal finished in 4th last season.
- USC seems poised for a massive rebound year. At last season’s NCAAs the Trojans finished just 22nd with 51 points. They currently project 9th with 173 points, a huge improvement over last season, especially considering the drama surrounding head coach Jeremy Kipp’s mysterious status on administrative leave.
- The Florida Gators, in their first season under head coach Anthony Nesty after Florida combined the programs in the spring, project to score only 30 points and finish in 21st. That is down from last year’s actual NCAA finish of 17th with 84.5 points. In the long term, however, the tide will certainly begin to turn in the Gators’ favor after Nesty has secured what is likely the top women’s recruiting class in the country for the high school class of 2023.
For more detailed analysis, check out the SwimSwam Swimulator.