Scoring the 2020 NCAA Women’s D1 Pre-Selection Psych Sheets

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:

  1. Louisville +70.5
  2. Stanford +63.5
  3. Minnesota +50.5
  4. Cal +44.5
  5. (TIE) Duke/Virginia +41
  6. Arizona +37.5
  7. Michigan +19
  8. (TIE) Wisconsin/Penn State/Alabama +10

Most Dis-Improved Teams, By Points, from Seed Scoring to Actual Scoring, 2019 NCAA Championships:

  1. Tennessee -76
  2. NC State -55
  3. Auburn -51
  4. Florida -49.5
  5. Texas -31.5
  6. Georgia -28
  7. Indiana -25.5
  8. (TIE) UNC/Texas A&M -22
  9. 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

Rank Team Seeded Points
1 Virginia-VA 374
2 Tennessee-SE 304.5
3 California-PC 272
4 NC State-NC 247.5
5 Michigan-MI 233.5
6 Georgia-GA 217
7 Stanford-PC 193
8 Southern Cali-CA 176.5
9 Kentucky-KY 158.5
10 Auburn-SE 150
11 Ohio St-OH 131
12 Alabama-SE 130
13 Florida-FL 126
14 Louisville-KY 123
15 Wisconsin-WI 117
16 Arizona St-AZ 84
17 Northwestern-IL 83
18 Missouri-MV 79
19 Texas-ST 78
20 Indiana-IN 70
21 Arkansas-AR 49
22 Duke-NC 35.5
23 UNC-NC 22
24 Harvard-NE 19
25 Texas A&M-GU 14
26 Minnesota-MN 14
27 San Diego St-SI 13.5
28 Princeton-NJ 12
29 Arizona-AZ 7
30 FGCU-FL 7
31 Florida St-FL 6
32 Hawaii-HI 5
33 South Carolina-SC 5
34 Houston-GU 4
35 Utah-UT 3
36 Penn St-MA 1.5

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Ted Raul
3 years ago

Im well aware that diving is not a focal point of this forum. The site is named SWIMSWAM not DIVEDOVE after all. But the meet is the NCAA Swimming and Diving championship. The diving does matter. While Stanford does have good divers—they scored 16 points at last years NCAA’s. The Texas women put up 60.5 points last year. That is a ton of points. Enough to put Texas in fifth place overall.
Paulsen (a junior by the way) may have won the platform at the PAC 10’s but she lost to two Texas freshman, Boyle and Skilken, by 100 points on the platform in December of 2019.

The point of this is not to disrespect the Stanford divers.… Read more »

3 years ago

A little editing miss: In the section “2. Performance” the two italicized headers that refer to the most improved and dis-improved teams say that it is for the year 2020 when I’m sure it should be 2019.
Thanks for all the fun nerd-content!

3 years ago

What I’m wondering is what SwimSwam thinks the places will be?

3 years ago

Still pretty pointless

Reply to  Wondering
3 years ago

It’s useful in the sense that it tells you how good each team as been to this point in the season. But probably not the best predictor of who will swim best at NCAAs

3 years ago

Look for those Northwestern women to be sneaky good. Seemed to have a lot left in the tank after B1Gs!

3 years ago

Something tells me the Lady Vole blew their load at conference

Reply to  Swimcap
3 years ago

Learn to spell Vols correctly and maybe your opinion will be relevant.

Texas A&M Swim Fan
Reply to  Swimcap
3 years ago

Hope you are wrong on that! I’m an avid “A&M fan” (as no doubt all of y’all are aware of) but I sure hope that the teams from the SEC do very well & that one of them wins the “whole ball of wax”!! It all will go a long way to “cementing” the SEC as being the most competitive conference in the land bar none!!!

Reply to  Texas A&M Swim Fan
3 years ago

It’s a big ask. SEC ADs care about conference so much, a coach would have a hard time selling “we finished second at conference unrested then beat the SEC champs when we came second at NCAAs” as a good year. The ADs going to want answers about the conference miss.

So you either build a team stacked enough to win SECs on a half rest (the Marsh years at Auburn) or take a gamble on losing SECs and winning NCs (UGA in 2016).

The first is just very difficult to do, the latter a big gamble unless you’re established to the point of unsackable like Bauerle.

Roll on tide
3 years ago

Raise your hand if you expected Alabama to be in contention for a top 10 finish while everyone else was sleeping 🤷🏼‍♀️🙋🏼‍♀️

Reply to  Roll on tide
3 years ago

They also have the SEC champion on platform who should provide another potential A final. Remarkable turnaround in 1 season

3 years ago

Seeing this on paper it looks like Virginia can win if their top 4 swimmers can match their seeds on avg. and the relays can avg a top 3 finish. Being super top heavy they could also fall pretty far down the standings if they don’t perform. Douglas and Madden should be able to be in the A final of all their events. Hill is on the bubble of the A final for her swims and Nelson I think would be a question mark. Tennessee based on last year I don’t think you can put them over 300pts. Stanford I did my own projection and I came up with about 260 plus diving would put them near 300. Cal has… Read more »

Reply to  Taa
3 years ago

I think (hope) TN swimmers learned from last year’s experience, although with Erika breaking an American record, I have to wonder if they were more rested than they let on (how many swimmers break their first American record unrested?). Matt’s a heck of a coach though, so they are in good hands.

The challenge with UVA is their youth. Some of their younger stars did massive best times at ACCs. To match those times at their first NCAAs will be impressive.

Stanford is interesting- a few years ago they had the speedsters like Lia, Simone, and Janet. They are a great mid distance team (400 IM/ 500 free/ 200s) this year, but that doesn’t help with 4 out of… Read more »

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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