How Did We Do? Reviewing SwimSwam’s Final Women’s NCAA Power Rankings

The Women’s NCAA Championships had a little bit of everything.

Some of it, like the dominance of the Virginia Cavaliers and the performances from Kate Douglass and Alex Walsh, we could see coming. Others, like the breakout performances from Louisville and Florida, came as a surprise.

With the meet wrapping up on Saturday night, we can now go back and review our final edition of the Power Rankings and see what we got right, what we got wrong, and what we got really wrong.

2021-22 NCAA Women’s Power Rankings

WOMEN’S NCAA RESULTS VERSUS SWIMSWAM PICKS (TOP 25)

Actual Finish Team SS Final Power Ranking Difference
1 Virginia Cavaliers 1
2 Texas Longhorns 3 +1
3 Stanford Cardinal 2 -1
4 Alabama Crimson Tide 5 +1
5 NC State Wolfpack 4 -1
6 Louisville Cardinals 10 +4
7 Michigan Wolverines 7
8 Cal Golden Bears 6 -2
9 Ohio State Buckeyes 9
10 Tennessee Volunteers 8 -2
11 Indiana Hoosiers 15 +4
12 Kentucky Wildcats 14 +2
13 Florida Gators 24 +11
14 UNC Tar Heels 16 +2
15 Georgia Bulldogs 11 -4
16 USC Trojans 12 -4
17 Wisconsin Badgers 13 -4
18 Northwestern Wildcats 17 -1
19 Arizona Wildcats NR +
20 Pennsylvania Quakers 19 -1
21 Minnesota Golden Gophers 18 -3
22 Miami (FL) Hurricanes NR +
23 Virginia Tech H20kies 22 -1
24 Duke Blue Devils NR +
25 Missouri Tigers 20 -5

WHAT WE GOT RIGHT

We nailed three teams in the top 10 right on the money, led by no-brainer Virginia in the first position.

We also correctly had Michigan in seventh and Ohio State at ninth, though the teams surrounding them moved around quite a bit.

Overall, 10 of our picks were within one place of where they ended up, and 14 were within two.

TEXAS EDGES STANFORD FOR SECOND

As the meet wore on it became evidently clear that after the conversation coming in was a possible UVA/Stanford battle for first—though the majority conceded the Cavs would be too powerful this year—the real talk should’ve been about Texas giving the Cardinal a run for second.

We had Stanford slotted for the second position and Texas for third, but the Longhorns had a really strong performance overall and grabbed the runner-up spot in the penultimate event, platform diving, before holding off the Cardinal in the 400 free relay.

It wasn’t that Stanford performed poorly, but Texas swam (and dove) exceptionally. The Longhorns outswam their seeds in the pool by 83.5 points and added 90 diving points, while Stanford scored 32 more swimming points than projected.

OTHER SURPRISES

The other main takeaways from the top 10 were the breakout showing from Louisville and the drops from Cal and Tennessee.

Our final picks had the Cardinals slotted in for 10th, but the team ended up in sixth after prevailing in a tight battle with Michigan, Cal and OSU. Lousiville outscored their seeded points by 62, while the Wolverines, Bears and Buckeyes all dropped.

While Cal essentially held serve compared to their seed, there was a prevailing sentiment in our picks that they had more to offer than they had shown this season, and that didn’t turn out to be the case.

Tennessee couldn’t recreate their SEC form, dropping from our pick of eighth down to 10th while scoring 161.5 points fewer than seeded.

Outside of the top 10, the biggest surprise performer compared to our projections was Florida, as the Gators were slotted in for 24th and pulled off 13th. Florida was only projected to score 16 swimming points and ended up with 98, outpacing their seed by 82 points while adding 17 on the boards.

Florida exceeding our expectations resulted in some other teams falling well short, notably Georgia, USC and Wisconsin all dropping four spots. Indiana also moved up four spots, propelled by 84 diving points.

MOVING UP AND MOVING OUT

Arizona, Miami (FL) and Duke all proved us wrong by finishing inside the top-25 after we had them on the outside looking in.

On the other side of things, three teams we had in the top-25 didn’t crack that threshold:

Team SS Final Power Ranking Actual Finish Difference
Arizona State Sun Devils 21 26 -5
Texas A&M Aggies 23 39 -16
Florida State Seminoles 25 t-40 (no points) -15

ASU’s Emma Nordin couldn’t find her mid-season form and the Sun Devils fell to 26th after we picked them to finish 21st.

We really missed on Texas A&M and FSU, who combined to score just one point over the entire meet. Chloe Stepanek was off for the Aggies (their lone point scorer with a 16th pace finish in the 200 free, where she was seeded to finish third), and the Seminole relays underperformed.

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swimmer
6 months ago

It is wild to me that Texas got 2nd

PVSFree
Reply to  swimmer
6 months ago

Carol Capitani is clearly doing something right there. Especially impressive given their lack of pure sprinters for the relays

Dressel_42.8
6 months ago

You guys should do this for Division II and III with the psych sheet projections vs the outcome

John Hueth
6 months ago

SwimSwam did an AMAZING job covering these meets! For some reason, my comments are “Awaiting Approval”. I hope that I can continue to comment to show my gratitude for swimswam!

Rap
Reply to  John Hueth
6 months ago

A number of my comments never show up. Never understood why. They were by no means controversial or insulting.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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