Who Drops? Who Adds? Ranking Men’s NCAA Teams By Average Change From Seed


How much can we take away from scoring the psych sheets at the Men’s NCAA Championships?

The annual pre-meet exercise tells us what the team standings would be if the event was won on paper using season-best times (not factoring in diving), but teams don’t perform equally at NCAAs.

Scoring out this year’s psychs spit out some startling numbers, the most notable being perennial top-two team Texas ranking all the way down in seventh.

In an effort to see how teams have historically performed relative to their seeded points, we’ve gone back over the last few years to come up with team-by-team averages of points gained or lost from seed.

Our chart below averages the 2022, 2021 and 2019 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 has consistently outperformed their seed at NCAAs over the last several seasons, outscoring their psych sheet score by more than 100 points in three straight years. As the top seed coming into these championships, it’s hard not to pencil them in as a massive favorite here.
  • Although Texas is seeded seventh on the psych sheets, the Longhorns have consistently outperformed their pre-meet rank as well. If their trend of outscoring their seed by around 80 points were to continue this year, they’d move up into the top five, but would still need help from diving (and other teams underperforming) to move higher than that.
  • Florida’s poor -81 result in 2019 still drags down their average, but the Gators have had two strong years in a row and are in the title hunt based on their psych sheet ranking.
  • Arizona State is a hard one to read, given that they were absent in 2021 and then underperformed last year  relative to seed by 41 points. After their standout Pac-12 showing, what do they have in store for NCAAs? The scored psych sheets have them right in the thick of the title battle with Cal and Florida.
  • It’s important to remember that a team can still largely swim well at NCAAs but fall shy of their psych sheet points, especially for a team like ASU, which has been putting up fast times all year and thus might have athletes seeded ahead of some swimmers from teams that haven’t been as fast (Texas, for example) during the season but have quicker best times.
  • Tennessee, Ohio State and Michigan have performed the worst relative to their seed over the last three seasons, while Louisville has had a pair of poor showings back-to-back. Among those squads, the one that figures to have the biggest impact on the top 10 is the Volunteers, who rank fifth on the psych sheets. The Lady Vols had a solid performance last week to take eighth at Women’s NCAAs, narrowly outscoring their projection.

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 (though it may have happened in a few cases).

If our embedded chart with the colors isn’t loading, here’s a more basic version of the data:

TEAM AVERAGE (Last 3 Meets) 2022 2021 2019 2018
California 135.50 129 119.5 158 97
Texas 79.33 74.5 83.5 80 46
Harvard 53.33 77 0 83 -19
Virginia 46.83 45.5 71 24 -27
NC State 26.67 16.5 9.5 54 0
Arizona 25.67 20 43 14 3.5
LSU 17.33 53 -1 0 0
Georgia Tech 11.00 24 4 5
Stanford 9.67 -24 31 22 75.5
South Carolina 7.33 0 0 -22 -24
Minnesota 5.83 1 3 13.5 -42
Hawaii 3.67 0 0 11 6
Georgia 2.67 21 -32.5 19.5 79.5
Missouri St. 2.33 0 0 7
Penn 1.85 0.5 0 5
West Virginia 1.67 0 5 0 -5.5
Purdue 1.50 0 -6.5 11 0
Towson 1.33 4 0 0 11
Princeton 1.00 2 0 1
Denver 0.67 0 0 2 22
Utah 0.50 2 6.5 -7 3
Cornell 0.00 0 0 2
Miami (FL) 0.00 0
Columbia 0.00 0
Kentucky -0.33 -9 4 4
UNC -1.00 -2 -1 0 0
Grand Canyon -1.00 0 0 -3 -20
USC -1.33 -2 -13 11 74
Penn St -2.50 -5 -2.5 0 0
Brigham Young -2.67 0 0 -8
SMU -3.00 -3
Florida -4.33 35.5 32.5 -81 45
Northwestern -5.50 -10 -1
Missouri -6.83 7 22 -49.5 -18
Florida St -7.33 -24 19.5 -17.5 -11
Pittsburgh -7.50 -6 -6 -10.5
Notre Dame -7.67 2 -15 -10 -11.5
Auburn -8.00 -1 -5 -18 -49.5
Wisconsin -14.17 -35 2 -9.5
Texas A&M -14.67 -7 -40 3 -49
Arizona St -15.00 -41 11 2
Indiana -16.50 -25 -22 -2.5 -26.5
Virginia Tech -18.33 -42.5 3.5 -16 -7
Louisville -28.50 -67 -41.5 23 4
Alabama -29.83 6 -45 -50.5 -6
Tennessee -46.00 -37 -11 -90 -13.5
Ohio State -61.83 -72 -85.5 -28 -55
Michigan -89.00 -56 -76 -135 -50

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2 months ago

Respect for the analysis

Reply to  Orange
2 months ago

The question is who was unshaved untapered at Pac-12s and who wasn’t

2 months ago

Another Look at Psych Sheet Data for 2023 Men’s D1 Swimming Championships

When the season began, the Room of Potential Team Champions (RPTC) where Teams with a fair chance at taking down the Men’s D1 title reside seemed, as always, to have 2 residents, Cal and Texas. ASU did well enough from the fall invitationals through their first several dual meets in the new year to, in my opinion, step in to share the ROOM with the venerable stalwarts of the previous decade plus. Then, Florida was superb at the SECs and earned the right to join the increasingly crowded ROOM. And with apologies to the fine conference efforts of Tennessee, Stanford and my alma mater, Indiana, NCState did enough… Read more »

2 months ago

Michigan. Woof.

Joel Lin
2 months ago

Bear season.

Paula Dean Farris
2 months ago

In Durden We Trust

2 months ago

i mean Cal’s outright refusal to swim fast in season is borderline comical and obviously inflates this statistic

Remember when they went to Tempe and got circle swam by ASU’s B team lol

Dual meets and conferences matter too..

Tommy Ato
Reply to  Andrew
2 months ago

Dual meets/conference absolutely matter if you don’t have National Championship banners on your pool deck. There’s a reason Cal and Texas have been top 2 for a decade now- they have a process that works and they don’t change it because some team wants to take a shot at them.

Good for ASU for doing what they need to do to be able to say they beat the national champions, but lets not get confused about what meet really matters here.

Reply to  Andrew
2 months ago

Dual meets literally don’t matter except as training exercises

Reply to  Andrew
2 months ago

Eddie has talked about swimming teams close to the end of the year because he knew they would back off to beat Texas and negatively affect their taper. The greatest college coach of all time is happy to sacrifice dual meet results.

Does it look weird when one team doesn’t suit and gets their teeth kicked in by one of their primary competitors? Sure, but each coaching staff should have their own season plan that they’re executing and changing it based on what someone else is doing is a recipe for failure.

Lab Counter
Reply to  Andrew
2 months ago

Being top 2 at NCAAs the last 12 years just really hurts their image. bowman at Michigan or at ASU has never won a trophy of any sort (Top 4 teams get trophies)! His 12 years vs Durden’s!?!?

Jonny Newsom
Reply to  Andrew
2 months ago

Somebody thirsty for attention.

2 months ago

Osu and Michigan together at the bottom aww

Reply to  Aaron
2 months ago

Wild that Bottom was just extended last year.

2 months ago

MIKE IN DALLAS is going to need therapy if his longhorns don’t finish top 2. Can we get a collective #hornsdown in the chat for MIKE

Reply to  Andrew
2 months ago

How about when they get fifth?

Reply to  Andrew
2 months ago

As a practicing counselor, I would be happy to do a ‘telemed’ help session for you, Andrew. I believe in compassion, even in the face of UT-derangement syndrome.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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