Swimming

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

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By James Sutherland on SwimSwam

2023 NCAA WOMEN’S SWIMMING AND DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS

How much can we glean from the scored psych sheets in anticipation of this week’s Women’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.

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.

Observations:

  • Virginia has outperformed their seed by a significant margin in each of the past three seasons, especially last year with a whopping +72.5. This year’s psych sheets has the Cavaliers 77 points ahead of Texas, and with the Longhorns’ diving prowess, UVA may need to surpass their projection once again to secure a third straight title.
  • Louisville has consistently been the best school at stepping up at NCAAs in recent years, and if the Cardinals can keep the trend going there’s a good chance they’ll move up into the top five. They are seeded sixth on the psych sheets, just under 10 points back of Ohio State.
  • The Buckeyes went from +97 in 2021 to -61.5 last season, making their crystal ball a little hazy this season.
  • NC State’s consistency of underperforming and Louisville’s consistent “overperforming” could be an interesting storyline to follow as the ACC rivals could end up being close in the team race.
  • The Florida women combined to go -73 versus their seed in 2019 and 2021, but incredibly turned their three-year average into a positive by going +82 last season. That result happened to coincide with their first campaign under coach Anthony Nesty. However, we’ve seen teams struggle at NCAAs in the past after going all-in on their conference meet: will the Gators have the same fate after a breakthrough SEC victory?
  • Tennessee was historically poor relative to seed last season, scoring well under half of their projected points in the pool. The Lady Vols recorded the only score in excess of -100 over the last three seasons, and it was -161.5. After going all-in on SECs in 2022, we’ll see if they can turn a positive in with a more modest projected score this year.

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).
  • 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.

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

Team Average (Last 3 Years) 2022 2021 2019 2018
Louisville 62.33 62 54.5 70.5 58.5
Virginia 43.33 72.5 16.5 41 1
Stanford 27.50 32 -13 63.5 50.5
UNC 21.67 16 71 -22 -5
Wisconsin 17.00 11 30 10 -14
Duke 14.33 0 2 41 -2
Arizona 14.00 3 1.5 37.5 16
Ohio State 13.50 -61.5 97 5 -17
Northwestern 13.33 -5.5 39 6.5 0
Virginia Tech 7.33 0 17 5 -9
Michigan 7.00 -13.5 15.5 19 -29.5
Minnesota 5.50 -34 0 50.5 -4
Alabama 5.17 32 -26.5 10 -2.5
San Diego State 4.67 2 3 9 0
Penn State 3.33 0 10 6
Houston 3.00 0 9 0 0
Florida 3.00 82 -23.5 -49.5 -1
Yale 2.83 14.5 0 -6 0
South Carolina 2.67 0 8 -0.5
Texas 2.67 83.5 -44 -31.5 17.5
Notre Dame 2.33 0 11 -4 4
FGCU 1.67 0 5
Nebraska 1.33 0 4 0 0
Oakland 0.33 0 1
Purdue 0.00 0 0 0 13.5
Denver 0.00 0 0 0 5
Wyoming 0.00 0 0 0
Miami 0.00 0 0 0 0
Georgia Tech 0.00 0 0 0 0
West Virginia 0.00 0 0 0 -2
Indiana -0.83 -13 36 -25.5 -3.5
Penn -0.8333333333 -2.5 0 0 0
Akron -1.67 0 3 -8 4
Rutgers -1.67 0 -5 0
UCLA -2.00 4 -10 0 2
LSU -2.17 0 0 -6.5 0
Navy -2.33 0 -8 1 0
Hawaii -2.67 0 -8 3.5
Eastern Michigan -2.83 -8.5 18
Florida State -3.00 -12 -2 5 -12.5
Arkansas -3.33 9 -19 0 0
Texas A&M -4.17 -21 30.5 -22 -39
Arizona State -5.67 -23 6 1
California -6.50 -4 -60 44.5 6.5
Missouri -17.67 3 -38 -18 23
Auburn -19.33 -7 0 -51 -41.5
Kentucky -21.00 -25.5 -36 -1.5 -7.5
Georgia -23.50 25.5 -68 -28 34
USC -33.17 -48 -30 -21.5 -58
NC State -33.67 -25 -21 -55 0.5
Tennessee -76.50 -161.5 8 -76 -27

SwimSwam: Who Drops? Who Adds? Ranking Women’s NCAA Teams By Average Change From Seed

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