Data Compiled by Andrew Mering.
With Tuesday’s release of the pre-selection Women’s Division I NCAA Championship psych sheets, we were able to project where the cut-line will be drawn for invite to the national championship meet that runs March 18th-21st in Athens, Georgia.
That tells the story of who individually will earn invites to the meet (though there are likely to be a few scratches, including one we seem to know of already, to shift that picture in the next 2 weeks).
But this also allows us to start looking at the team scoring potential for the meet.
Sitting at the top of the projected team scoring, by a substantial margin, are the ACC Champion Virginia Cavaliers, followed closely by the SEC Champion Tennessee Volunteers. While Virginia has a ton of momentum, and incoming classes including swimmers like Alex and Gretchen Walsh, that left them destined to compete for national titles down the road, a title in the 2020 season would be ahead of schedule for what most expected from the Cavaliers.
The 3rd-place team is a bit of a surprise: the Cal Golden Bears. Cal definitely has a top-3 caliber roster at the NCAA Championships, so that bit is not surprising; rather, it’s that Cal is seeded so far ahead of Stanford, the three-time defending NCAA Champions. Stanford finished 373.5 points ahead of Cal at the Pac-12 Championships and won their dual meet over Cal by 89 points.
For perspective, last year Stanford led all teams in psych sheet scoring with 374 points: 3 ahead of Cal. While Stanford’s Pac-12 Championship margin was bigger last year (423 points), that they are seeded well back of Cal on paper is still surprising.
That’s one of several upended conference championship results projected. For example, the Big Ten runners-up from Michigan are projected to score more (233.5 points) than the Big Ten Champions from Ohio State (131 points).
These psych sheets don’t tell the full story of the NCAA Championship meet, although they are a reasonable starting point. There’s two other key pieces of information missing:
1. Diving – This scoring doesn’t include any diving points. Among the top teams, Stanford has the best diving squad – they scored 15 diving points at last year’s NCAA Championships, all of which return this season and all but 1 of which were scored by freshmen. That includes junior Mia Paulsen, who was the Pac-12 Champion over the weekend on platform.
2. Performance – Everyone’s most (and least) favorite topic: tapers, rests, suits, illnesses, and who’s going to show up for the NCAA Championships. Most teams claim expectations of improvements from their regular season and conference meets to the NCAA Championships, but in practice very few teams accomplish it. Last year’s top-performing teams on seed-versus-actual swimming scoring were Louisville, Stanford, and Minnesota, while the worst-performing teams were Tennessee, Ohio State, and Texas.
Most Improved Teams, By Points, from Seed Scoring to Actual Scoring, 2019 NCAA Championships:
- Louisville +70.5
- Stanford +63.5
- Minnesota +50.5
- Cal +44.5
- (TIE) Duke/Virginia +41
- Arizona +37.5
- Michigan +19
- (TIE) Wisconsin/Penn State/Alabama +10
Most Dis-Improved Teams, By Points, from Seed Scoring to Actual Scoring, 2019 NCAA Championships:
- Tennessee -76
- NC State -55
- Auburn -51
- Florida -49.5
- Texas -31.5
- Georgia -28
- Indiana -25.5
- (TIE) UNC/Texas A&M -22
- USC -21.5
Of course even this doesn’t tell a complete picture. Some years, teams have different goals. Some years, teams get sick. Some teams have new coaches, and some of it is individually-based, with certain athletes handling the conference-nationals taper cycle better than others.
But the proof of that will come out in the pudding in March at the Gabrielsen Natatorium. Until then, all that’s left to do is argue.
Psych Sheet Scoring, 2020 NCAA Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships – Swimming Only
|27||San Diego St-SI||13.5|