Which Men’s Teams Move Up and Which Move Down at the NCAA Championships? (2022)


In anticipation of the 2021 Men’s NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships, we’ve scored out the psych sheets. But exactly how much does that tell us?

In an effort to see how teams typically perform relative to their seeded points, we’ve gone back over the past several years to come up with team-by-team averages of points gained or lost from seed.

Our chart below averages the 2019, 2018 and 2017 seasons, with each team’s gain/loss from seeded points listed. The 2020 meet is missing, as the actual NCAA meet itself was canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic.


  • Cal, generally, improves the most from seed at the NCAA Championships of any team in the country. This year, they enter the meet with the most seeded swimming points of any team in the country, and have a few spots where it seems clear they’re going to improve (12th seed in the 200 medley relay, for example). Texas has plenty of room to move up as well, but this year, they’ll have to dig out of that hole with only one diver who earned an invite via the primary channel: Andrew Harness, who scored 7 diving points at NCAAs last year. That puts the two teams, by seed and including diving, at about dead-even (Cal has a 7.5 point swimming advantage on paper this year). The last time where Texas improved its swimming points by more than Cal at NCAAs was 2017 (190 vs. 38). Texas will probably bring another diver via the institutionally-funded route, Noah Duperre, who scored 23 points at last year’s NCAAs, though he’ll need to be better at NCAAs than at Zones to markedly shift Texas’ outcome.
  • The Stanford men have been really good at beating seed in recent history, though that hasn’t netted them the high finishes that they’re used to. They come into the meet seeded with the 6th-most points. That puts them within some reasonable striking distance of Arizona State and NC State, though those teams also often improve from seed.
  • The Louisville women are better than any team in the country at improving from their conference meet to NCAAs. The men have a remarkably different pattern, though, sometimes improving and sometimes not. Last year, in spite of having a wildly-successful meet that included the school’s first-ever relay title, they still lost 41.5 points from seed.
  • The Tennessee women lost 161.5 points from seed last weekend in Atlanta, which is one of the biggest numbers we’ve ever seen. The men historically haven’t been much better – losing an average of 38.17 points each season versus seed. Remember that the Tennessee men are rarely seeded to score as much as their women, so on scale, that’s about as bad, even if the rote numbers aren’t as big.
  • The Michigan women didn’t have a great NCAA meet either, and with the men’s team historically adding more than any other program at NCAAs, they could slide from their projected 13th place finish.

A few notes on these numbers:

  • The numbers are swimming points only – we’ve factored out diving, where no good version of a psych sheet exists.
  • Points gained from seed are listed in green, while points lost from seed are listed in red.
  • Obviously, there are plenty of outside factors that play into each of these numbers, and they aren’t a hard and fast predictor of future seasons’ outcomes. But we can at least identify multi-year trends as we try to diagnose why those trends exist.
  • The biggest caveat here is that we’re calculating by total points – in order to lose significant points from seed, you also have to have a lot of seeded points. Same goes for the teams at the top, because you can’t move up 50+ points from seed without qualifying lots of individuals and some relays. So you’ll mostly see big-name teams at both extremes, if only because those are the teams with bigger NCAA groups and more ability to move up or down at the meet itself.
  • Where zeroes are listed, a team had athletes at the NCAA meet and finished right on their psych sheet projection, even if that projection was zero. A blank space typically means a team had no swimmers or relays at NCAAs that year, and we didn’t factor that into their average as a zero.
  • We’ve included the 2017 numbers just because we already have them, but the average is based on the most recent three NCAA Championship meets.

For those on mobile or who can’t see the embedded sheet above:

TEAM AVERAGE (Last 3 Meets) 2021 Net 2019 Net 2018 Net 2017 Net
California +124.83 119.5 158 97 38
Texas +69.83 83.5 80 46 190
Stanford +42.83 31 22 75.5 62
USC +24 -13 11 74 61
Virginia +22.67 71 24 -27 -4
Georgia +22.17 -32.5 19.5 79.5 62
Harvard +21.33 0 83 -19 -11
NC State +21.17 9.5 54 0 -66.5
Arizona +20.17 43 14 3.5 -11.5
Denver +8 0 2 22 12
Arizona St +6.5 11 2 -51
Hawaii +5.67 0 11 6 2
Georgia Tech +4.5 4 5 -14
Kentucky +4 4 4 0
Towson +3.67 0 0 11 1
Missouri St. +3.5 0 7 2
Penn +2.5 0 5 2
Purdue +1.5 -6.5 11 0 0
Cornell +1 0 2 0
Utah +0.83 6.5 -7 3
Princeton +0.5 0 1
West Virginia -0.17 5 0 -5.5
LSU -0.33 -1 0 0 0
UNC -0.33 -1 0 0 -25
Penn St -0.83 -2.5 0 0 -24
Northwestern -1.00 -1 4
Florida -1.17 32.5 -81 45 -7.5
Florida St -3.00 19.5 -17.5 -11 -11
Wisconsin -3.75 2 -9.5 -5
Brigham Young -4.00 0 -8 -2
Louisville -4.83 -41.5 23 4 -33.5
Virginia Tech -6.50 3.5 -16 -7 -14
Grand Canyon -7.67 0 -3 -20
Pittsburgh -8.25 -6 -10.5 0
Minnesota -8.50 3 13.5 -42 -9
Notre Dame -12.17 -15 -10 -11.5 12
Missouri -15.17 22 -49.5 -18 67.5
South Carolina -15.33 0 -22 -24 42
Indiana -17.00 -22 -2.5 -26.5 -123.5
Auburn -24.17 -5 -18 -49.5 26.5
Texas A&M -28.67 -40 3 -49 21
Alabama -33.83 -45 -50.5 -6 -13.5
Tennessee -38.17 -11 -90 -13.5 -3
Ohio State -56.17 -85.5 -28 -55 -136
Michigan -87.00 -76 -135 -50 -64

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tea rex
2 years ago

Maybe not enough data, but I’d be interested how teams compare who are swimming in their own time zone vs not.

2 years ago

Would be interested to see this as a percentage gain or loss (maybe limited to teams that score at least 50 points at each meet).

Coach Chackett
2 years ago

You have to be listed with Projected points to lose them. In the middle are the small scoring teams. Texas and Cal seem to hold back at the Conference level with great swimmers being able to do that. ASU went for it at the conference meet, can they come close to holding it?

2 years ago

Did the women’s meet change your expectations for the ASU men this week? What about for Florida?

Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

UF had two newcomers. Elettra Neroni who is a diver and did not make NCAAs, and Ekaterina Nikonova who is a swimmer and scored on relays. So only one impacted them at NCs, and she isn’t even the team’s leading scorer. They did well at NCs as a TEAM effort.

Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

Do Erica Laning and Lindsay Looney from ASU ring a bell? They both finaled in their best events. It’s not JUST Emma Nordin there (although she had put up some stellar times).

Former Big10
2 years ago

Where are all the PAC-12 complainers “OMG why does conference start so late, it HURTS us”… Then looks at the stats and the biggest upwards movers are PAC schools lol

John Hueth
2 years ago

Meets aren’t swam on paper, folks. Cal should put up hefty points during the last day of the meet though. Can Texas hold them off?

2 years ago

It looks like Texas entered only 2 divers per the entries on DiveMeet – Harness and Duperre. First time I can remember that they chose to leave qualified divers home.

2 years ago

Given UVA’s massive jump from seed to actual points at 2021 NCAAs coupled with the Virginia women’s domination last week, I’d say they’re going to be a pretty fun team to watch

Reply to  walrus
2 years ago

UVA could surprise people in their sprint free relays.

This NCAAs feels much more open to upsets/surprise winners/surprise podium finishes than in years past. I feel like any of the top 12 guys in the 50 free could easily win. And then the 100 back is wide open as well. Really excited for this week

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. 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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