SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side, or you can find the poll embedded at the bottom of this post.
Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers if the NCAA should move its scoring format down to 24th place to mirror most of the major Division I conferences:
Question: Should the NCAA score down to 24th place for each event?
- No – 59.8%
- Yes – 40.2%
Just under 60% of voters opposed the idea of the NCAA widening its scoring margin and scoring down to 24th place.
We floated the idea earlier in the month as nothing more than a discussion point. It was posited somewhat in response to some unique conference outcomes – depth-based teams being rewarded with runaway conference wins, while more top-heavy teams remained the bigger NCAA threats. (The Indiana women beating Michigan in the Big Ten was a key example). That phenomenon has brought about some interesting discussion among fans as to whether such a win should be considered an upset – we projected Indiana as legitimate candidates for the Big Ten title, even though they’ve never come close to Michigan in our overall power rankings – or whether conference standing should affect our own power rankings, which we focus more on NCAA Championships viability.
In a way, swimming has several different competition venues that value vastly different things. Dual meets force a team to be well-rounded – an event with no strong swimmers will bleed points, while a loaded event is capped at only 3 scoring swimmers per team, and a max of 16 points. That leads to the often odd outcomes in the CSCAA’s regular “dual meet” poll rankings, which ranks out dual meet strength but often flies in the face of true NCAA viability.
Then there’s the conference level, where the Big Ten, ACC and SEC now score down to 24th place along with the Pac-12 women. The Pac-12 men and Big 12 men and women continue to score down to 16th. The broadened scoring format values depth much more, and with no entry caps or floors for any specific event, a team can benefit from having 5 good 100 freestylers even if they have no milers.
At the NCAA level, the very top-end talent are the only ones who can put points on the board. Scoring at NCAAs has become ridiculously fast. Scoring down to 24th wouldn’t necessarily change that, but would open up opportunities for more teams to put up points, and perhaps for teams to reap more points from their top-end depth: the elite swimmers who aren’t quite national-level studs, but who are fast enough to earn NCAA invites and swim well on the big stage.
One complication is that, on the men’s side, only about 30 swimmers are invited to NCAAs per event. More will enter with B cuts, but scoring down to 24th even further exacerbates the trend in men’s swimming: that merely making the NCAA invite list is the most difficult part, while scoring isn’t as huge a step (time-wise) as just being invited.
Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Poll, which asks voters their predictions for women’s NCAAs:
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The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner