Directors' Cupdate: Card by a nose?

Stanford and Florida are virtually knotted as of our latest Directors' Cup projection. The official numbers come out Monday, but why wait when we have them here? Read on for more!

Analysis is below, but first, here are Stanford and Florida's scorecards as of Friday, May 24. Teams still competing are in bold, with their projected point totals based upon their current ranking and, if applicable, postseason standing. Note that a school can score in only 10 sports for each gender.

Stanford: 1,299 projected points (Last year: 1,448.25)

Men 538.5
1. Gymnastics 85 (3rd)
2. Football 73.5 (6th)
3. Swimming 72 (7th)
4. Fencing 66 (8th)
5. Cross country 58.5 (16th)
6. Indoor track 43.5 (T-30th)
7. Track & field* 43.5 (projected T-30th, currently unranked)
8. Golf 36 (T-37th)
9. Wrestling 35.5 (38th)
10. Tennis 25 (T-33rd)
Baseball 0 (projected to miss postseason)

Women 760.5
1. Tennis 100 (1st)
2. Water polo 90 (2nd)
3. Cross country 85 (3rd)
4. Soccer 83 (T-3rd)
5. Golf 62.25 (T-13th)
6. Volleyball 73 (T-5th)
7. Swimming 70.5 (8th)
8. Gymnastics 68.25 (T-7th)
9. Basketball 64 (T-9th)
10. Track & field 64.5 (projected 12th)
11. Softball 50 (T-17th)
12. Rowing 34 (projected 10th)
13. Lacrosse 25 (9th)
14. Field hockey 25 (9th)

Florida 1,303.5 points

Men 574

1. Track 100 (projected 1st)
2. Indoor track 90 (2nd)
3. Swimming 73.5 (6th)
4. Basketball 73 (T-5th)
5. Football 67.5 (10th)
6. Golf 66 (projected 11th, advanced to 30-team NCAA Championships)
7. Baseball 50 (projected T-17th, RPI No. 32)
8. Cross country 29 (32nd)
9. Tennis 25 (T-33rd)

Women 729.5
1. Gymnastics 100 (1st)
2. Softball 90 (projected 2nd, currently in Round of 16)
3. Tennis 83 (T-3rd)
4. Track 75 (projected 5th)
5. Swimming 73.5 (6th)
6. Volleyball 64 (T-9th)
7. Soccer 64 (T-9th)
8. Indoor track 63 (13th)
9. Lacrosse 60 (T-5th)
10. Golf 57 (17th)
11. Cross country 51 (23rd)

Projected final standings
1. Florida 1,303.5
2. Stanford 1,299

3. UCLA (624.5 + 624.75) 1249.25
4. Michigan (914.25 + 333.5) 1247.75


Stanford will be well ahead of Florida in the official standings to be released Monday. The reality is much closer to a coin flip. (Michigan may even be ahead of Florida in those standings. Pay that no mind, as neither Michigan nor UCLA are having the type of monster spring they'd need to challenge.)

Florida has a nominal 4.5-point lead according to our projections, which is about as close to a tie as you can get with the schools racking up a projected 2,600 total points. Stanford, however, should now be considered a slight favorite.

The Cardinal had a great week, with No. 12 women's tennis helping Stanford win an NCAA title for the 37th straight year, and knocking off the No. 1 Gators in the semifinals to boot. Then, No. 13 women's golf finished four spots ahead of No. 10 Florida in that NCAA Championship. Those two results have all but erased Florida's projected 60-point lead of a week ago.

Still, even after this past week, we project a virtual tie, not a Stanford victory. Why then are we calling Stanford slight favorites? Simply put, the Cardinal have more points in the clubhouse, while Florida's teams will have to maintain their high rankings if they are to match their projection.

Consider softball and men's and women's track, where we project the Gators to finish second, first and fifth, respectively, for 265 total points. It's possible that the Gators match those expectations, or even exceed them, with three national titles worth a potential 300 points. Still, with nearly 200 teams competing in those finals, it is more likely that the Gators don't string together three top-five finishes, costing them points versus their projections.

So then why not call this one for the Cardinal? First, while Florida has downside risk in softball and the tracks, they also have upside potential in baseball and men's golf. Both of those squads will compete in the NCAA Championships, where both are projected to finish outside of the top 10. Were either to go on a run, they could quickly pick up a slew of points, as Stanford's women's tennis just showed.

Plus, Stanford has not totally secured its 1,300-point total either. They're good on the women's side, where they will have 10 high-scoring sports no matter what, so a postseason surprise from track or women's rowing will most likely help the ledger. On the men's side, however, outdoor track is going to be the 10th sport and the Cardinal are unranked there. We're projecting that someone scores at the national meet for the Card – their distance runners are too good not to, for starters – but a few of the Cardinal men have already been eliminated at NCAA Regionals and a 0 would be near-fatal.

Plus, in a race this close, any single fluke event could turn the whole outcome. Maybe Stanford baseball somehow sneaks into the NCAA Championship or Florida baseball somehow tanks and misses out. The fine folks who run the Directors' Cup have to score women's lacrosse as either a 16-team sport, as they did last year and we're assuming they will this year, or a 32-team sport, which seems plausible as the bracket expanded to 24 teams this season. (Naturally, the only choices are 32 and 16 and the overseers don't say which category 24-team women's lacrosse will fall into. Oops.) Florida would pick up 10 points from a 32-team determination.

What to Root For

This weekend for Stanford, root for lots of track athletes, especially the men, to advance to the NCAA Finals. Down the line, rowing won a national title a few seasons ago and could surprise this year, and then the track finals, especially on the men's side, will be key.

Ultimately, though, who wins this Cup is mostly up to Florida. Thanks to their strong rankings and seedings, the Gators have ridiculously high expectations the rest of the way. If they do meet or exceed those expectations, the Cup is theirs. More likely, if they come up just short, Stanford will hang on by the skin of its teeth.

This weekend, root for UAB to surprise host Florida softball in a Super Regional. Next week, root for the golf course versus Florida men's golf at the NCAA Championships, and then for the Gators to make a quick exit out of the NCAA baseball tournament.

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