NCAA Men’s Teams Ranked By Average Change From Seeded Points

In anticipation of the 2021 Men’s NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships, we’ve scored out the psych sheets. But exactly how much does that tell us?

In an effort to see how teams typically perform relative to their seeded points, we’ve gone back over the past several years to come up with team-by-team averages of points gained or lost from seed.

Our chart below averages the 2019, 2018 and 2017 seasons, with each team’s gain/loss from seeded points listed. Of course, the most recent season (2020) is missing one major data point, as the actual NCAA meet itself was canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A few notes on these numbers:

  • The numbers are swimming points only – we’ve factored out diving, where no good version of a psych sheet exists.
  • Points gained from seed are listed in green, while points lost from seed are listed in red.
  • Obviously, there are plenty of outside factors that play into each of these numbers, and they aren’t a hard and fast predictor of future seasons’ outcomes. But we can at least identify multi-year trends as we try to diagnose why those trends exist.
  • The biggest caveat here is that we’re calculating by total points – in order to lose significant points from seed, you also have to have a lot of seeded points. Same goes for the teams at the top, because you can’t move up 50+ points from seed without qualifying lots of individuals and some relays. So you’ll mostly see big-name teams at both extremes, if only because those are the teams with bigger NCAA groups and more ability to move up or down at the meet itself.
  • Where zeroes are listed, a team had athletes at the NCAA meet and finished right on their psych sheet projection, even if that projection was zero. A blank space typically means a team had no swimmers or relays at NCAAs that year, and we didn’t factor that into their average as a zero.

If our embedded chart with the colors isn’t loading, here’s a more basic version of the data:

Team Average 2019 2018 2017
Texas 105.33 80 46 190
California 97.67 158 97 38
Georgia 53.67 19.5 79.5 62
Stanford 53.17 22 75.5 62
USC 48.67 11 74 61
Harvard 17.67 83 -19 -11
Denver 12 2 22 12
Hawaii 6.33 11 6 2
Missouri St. 4.5 7 2
Towson 4 0 11 1
George Washington 4 4
Northwestern 4 4
Purdue 3.67 11 0 0
Penn 3.5 5 2
Arizona 2 14 3.5 -11.5
Kentucky 2 4 0
Iowa 2 2
Princeton 1 1
Cornell 1 2 0
LSU 0 0 0 0
Miami 0 0 0 0
Columbia 0 0
East Carolina 0 0
IUPUI 0 0
Navy 0 0
UCSB 0 0
Missouri 0 -49.5 -18 67.5
Wyoming 0 0 0
Duke -0.67 0 0 -2
SMU -1 0 -2
South Carolina -1.33 -22 -24 42
Utah -2 -7 3
Louisville -2.17 23 4 -33.5
Virginia -2.33 24 -27 -4
West Virginia -2.75 0 -5.5
Notre Dame -3.17 -10 -11.5 12
Yale -4 -4
NC State -4.17 54 0 -66.5
Georgia Tech -4.5 5 -14
Brigham Young -5 -8 -2
Pittsburgh -5.25 -10.5 0
Wisconsin -7.25 -9.5 -5
Penn St -8 0 0 -24
Texas A&M -8.33 3 -49 21
UNC -8.33 0 0 -25
Grand Canyon -11.5 -3 -20
Virginia Tech -12.33 -16 -7 -14
Minnesota -12.5 13.5 -42 -9
Arizona St -12.67 11 2 -51
Florida St -13.17 -17.5 -11 -11
Auburn -13.67 -18 -49.5 26.5
Florida -14.5 -81 45 -7.5
Alabama -23.33 -50.5 -6 -13.5
Tennessee -35.5 -90 -13.5 -3
Indiana -50.83 -2.5 -26.5 -123.5
Ohio State -73 -28 -55 -136
Michigan -83 -135 -50 -64

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PVSFree
6 months ago

Interesting that the bottom three are Big 10 schools. Is there any particular reason why they’d try and taper more for their conference meet than teams in other conferences?

SC3
Reply to  PVSFree
6 months ago

Historically, SECs is 5 weeks out, Big 10s is 4, and PAC 12 is 3 weeks out from NCs (not this year). That being said, 5 weeks may allow for swimmers to continue swimming and taper back down. 3 weeks is enough to continue tapering. 4 weeks may put teams in a weird position for rest.

Riccardo
6 months ago

I feel like a few of the teams in red wouldn’t be there if not for some relay DQs.

That kind of thing throws the data set off a bit. A team could be swimming great but a relay DQ could make them end negative vs the psych sheet.

The Weez
Reply to  Riccardo
6 months ago

Great point.

Would also be interesting to see a breakdown of team performance vs seed when splitting the seed column into two or more subgroups based on seed achieved at midseason invite vs. conference (vs. other…and potentially breakdown the conference group by which weekend / weeks out from championship ~ and lump any “last chance” qualifiers into the “weekend” that the time was performed rather than a specific conference).

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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