So, how much does psych sheet scoring really matter at the NCAA level? Some adamantly believe it doesn’t. Some adamantly believe it does. Others don’t want to believe it does – because they want to believe that their team will always roar really hard and has the “mental toughness” to “show up when it counts.”
At this year’s women’s NCAA Championships, at least, psych sheet scoring mattered a lot.
See below for the teams that were seeded to finish in the top 20 based on psych sheets. We’ve limited it there, because we feel that this encompasses the teams with a lot of entries, where they’re cushioned from one swimmer just being ‘off,’ and are also the teams best suited to split focus between their conference championship meets and NCAA’s.
Of course, psych sheet scoring will never be a perfect indicator of final placement. If it is an indicator of final placement, that in-and-of-itself is pretty noteworthy. The two big things that psych sheet scoring will never be able to account for, no matter how carefully coaches plan out their seasons and tapers, are DQ’s and diving.
So, when looking at teams who varied by more than one spot from their predicted spot, the explanation is almost always diving. Texas moved up two spots – because of diving. Minnesota moved up two spots – because of diving.
Virginia’s slide of four spots as compared to psych sheet scoring can be explained, in half, by an A-Final relay DQ and diving points. UNC slid about six spots, and they did have on individual event DQ, but it wasn’t an overly costly one.
Cal’s relay DQ arguably cost them the second-place position; had they legally finished that relay, they would’ve surpassed Stanford. But in terms of surpassing Stanford in swimming-only points, ironically Cal outscored Stanford on diving, so it would’ve taken about a 4th-place finish in the 200 medley relay to ensure that – which is never a guarantee.
What does this mean? Well, last year’s psych sheet scoring was pretty fair too. We didn’t look back two years ago, before the format change, but our feeling is that if you did, the result might be different.
Our hypothesis is that with the new NCAA qualification system, where swimmers can’t just sneak into individual events based on relay swims, we will continue to see a pattern toward psych sheets being a better, though not perfect, predictor of final NCAA finish. The new qualification system pretty well leaves coaches in one of two classes: either a big rest mid-season, or a big rest at the conference meet and trying to carry it through. Across teams with 8-18 qualifiers, with the averaging out in the different “classes” of those qualifiers (AKA – those who slide in easily, versus those who really need to push to get there).
At any rate, we’ve included both a sortable and a static table below for those who might be on a phone.
|Seeded Place||Actual Place||Psych Scored Points||Actual Swimming Points Scored||Diving Points||Actual Scored Points|
|San Diego State||16||27||54||28||0||28|