2021 NCAA WOMEN’S SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
- When: Wednesday, March 17 – Saturday, March 20, 2021
- Where: Greensboro Aquatic Center / Greensboro, NC (Eastern Time Zone)
- Prelims 10 AM / Finals 6 PM (Local Time)
- Short course yards (SCY) format
- Champion: Virginia (1x)
- Streaming: ESPN3
- Championship Central
- Psych Sheets
- Final results
The 2021 Women’s NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships are in the books, and it’s time to look back at how well our Power Ranks predicted the finish order.
First, here’s a link to our Power Ranks (with explanations of each pick), plus some of the key data points we used in creating them:
- 2021 Women’s NCAA Swimming & Diving Power Ranks (Final Edition)
- Scoring out the psych sheets for the 2021 Women’s NCAA Swimming Championships
- NCAA Women’s Swim Teams Ranked By Average Change From Seeded NCAA Points
- NCAA Diving Projections
Our Final Edition Power Ranks
- NC State
- Ohio State
- Texas A&M
- Virginia Tech
Final NCAA Finish Order
Points are included, and change from our power ranks is noted in red, green, or black based on falls, rises, or holds:
- Virginia: 491 (-)
- NC State: 354 (+2)
- Texas: 344.5 (-)
- Cal: 290 (-2)
- Alabama: 266 (+1)
- Michigan: 224.5 (+2)
- Ohio State: 215.5 (+3)
- Georgia: 181 (-3)
- Stanford: 159 (-2)
- Tennessee: 153 (+2)
- Kentucky: 152 (-2)
- UNC: 144 (+9)
- Louisville: 108 (+1)
- Texas A&M: 107.5 (+4)
- Indiana: 102 (+2)
- Northwestern: 96 (-)
- Florida: 84.5 (-4)
- Missouri: 79 (-7)
- Wisconsin: 61 (+3)
- Purdue: 56 (+4)
- Virginia Tech: 55 (-2)
- USC: 51 (-7)
- Miami: 42 (+)
- Minnesota: 40 (+)
- Arizona: 34.5 (+)
Let’s start with the bad: one theme is very clear. In multiple cases, we relied too much on historical precedent, overrating some long-time NCAA powers at the expense of less-established, but rising, programs.
In fact, we overrated the three teams who have combined to win the past nine NCAA team titles: California, Stanford, and Georgia. Those were our three biggest misses inside the top 10.
A few other teams dropped significantly from our power ranks. Missouri is kind of a special case, as we hadn’t yet had a season to evaluate the new coaching staff under Andy Grevers, nor to see the effects of the team’s high-profile decision to suit up in technical suits for every meet.
The big difference for Florida was relay points – they scored 56.5 individually, almost identical to the 55 they were projected via psych sheets. But 46 seeded relay points dropped to just 28, and that margin dropped them out of the top 15.
Kentucky moved down two spots, but it’s worth noting that the Wildcats were just 7 points away from finishing exactly where we had ranked them – things got very tight in the 9-12 range.
Plenty of teams exceeded our expectations. Some, we should have seen coming. NC State had the second-most psych sheet points, besting Cal by 25. We leaned a little too heavily on Cal’s historic track record of great NCAA showings, when ultimately NC State outperformed the Golden Bears and beat them by 64.
Again, our trust in the ‘big-name’ programs caused us to predict that Georgia would make up about 43.5 psych sheet points on Alabama. We were wrong: the Crimson Tide (who also outswam our SEC predictions) fell a little short of their psych sheet points, but fell off far less than Georgia. Alabama: you guys can legitimately call yourselves the ‘nobody believes in us’ team of this year, because you consistently proved doubters wrong.
Ohio State and Michigan each picked up spots from our Power Ranks. Two spots apiece was due to Georgia and Stanford far underperforming our predictions. But the Buckeyes and Wolverines both swam very well and trounced the two former team champs convincingly.
A few other standout teams:
- UNC: We clearly didn’t factor the Tar Heels in enough – after several stars missed ACCs, their projections were clearly too low. But even the swimmers who swam both ACCs and SECs did a nice job. Grace Countie went from 7 psych sheet points to 35 individual points. Sophie Lindner went from 3 to 8. We speculated a lot about how good freshman diver Aranza Vazquez would be, and tried to project a bit of a middle ground. But Vazquez was dominant, scoring 47 dive points with two runner-up finishes.
- Texas A&M: The Aggies moved up four spots from our projections. Some of that can be accounted for by the close margins in that 13-16 zone: A&M was just 5.5 points ahead of Indiana and 11.5 ahead of Northwestern. But the margins cut both ways – A&M was just half a point from passing Louisville for 13th. The big change there was individual scoring: Camryn Toney nearly quadrupled her psych sheet points and A&M added two diving scorers we should have counted on more.
Close Or Right-On
Picking the champions right is always a big piece, even when psych sheet scoring is pretty solidly in their favor. Virginia clearly proved it on meet day.
Texas ended up third – it wasn’t easy for us to project the Longhorns that high, even with the #4 overall spot in psych sheet points. Texas hasn’t always backed up their psych sheet points come NCAAs, but did feel like a team with a much more stable scoring floor this year. We factored in diving pretty accurately for Texas, too.
Louisville ultimately finished one place higher than we projected them, but only by half a point. To our credit, we also had Louisville much higher than psych sheet scores would have indicated – they were just 16th in psych sheet scoring with no diving presence to speak of. We ranked them 14th and they wound up 13th.
We factored in a handful of diving-heavy schools late in our top 25. Though we didn’t always hit the right schools, the instinct to account for diving was a good one. The three teams to jump into the top 25 who weren’t there in our Power Ranks were all diving-heavy schools, and all were ranked in our honorable mentions: Miami, Minnesota, and Arizona.