Monday Rankings

National Rankings – Week of January 30th
1. Utah – 196.992
2. Arkansas – 196.756
3. Florida – 196.563
4. Georgia – 196.519
5. Oklahoma – 196.444
6. Alabama – 196.325
7. UCLA – 196.231
8. Oregon State – 196.050
9. Nebraska – 195.900
10. Penn State – 195.869
11. Ohio State – 195.519
12. Stanford – 195.117
13. Auburn – 195.106
14. LSU – 194.900
15. Denver – 194.738
16. Boise State – 194.700
17. Missouri – 194.663
18. Arizona – 194.625
19. Illinois – 194.500
20. West Virginia – 194.444
21. Washington – 194.419
22. Michigan – 194.292
23. NC State – 194.250
24. Iowa – 194.181
25. Minnesota – 194.006

Full rankings at Troester

Let’s take a moment and think about how high these scores are.  Utah’s current average is higher than Florida’s was at this point last season, when everyone was raving about Florida running away with the title.  There has been no such discussion about Utah, and I suppose they do have to prove the ability to bring these scores on the road before we start talking about them as title contenders.

Even beyond the top spot, we have a marked increase.  Penn State’s current average puts them at 10th, but it would have been high enough for 5th at this point last season.  And yet, if we then move beyond the top 12, the scores level out in comparison to last year.  Once we get to the Denvers and Missouris and West Virginias of the world, we see that these schools are not getting the same bump in scoring as the top schools are.  So the rich are getting richer while the poorer stay the same.

Why?  There could be several reasons.  The first possible explanation is that the top teams are just more talented than they were last year, and that is reflected in the scores.  It’s quite true that the new freshmen are very strong and that almost all of the top schools have traded up from last year.  But if that is the reason, then the coaches as a whole should be concerned.  What has happened to the parity you all have been lauding for the past few years?  The top schools appear to be distancing themselves from the rest, and looking at incoming recruiting classes for next year, that isn’t changing.

But maybe that’s not the main reason.  Maybe it has more to do with the judges going overboard early in the year (an argument I would support).  But if that’s the case, shouldn’t all the schools be seeing an equal bump?  Maybe it’s just a home scoring issue, that charitable scores at home have increased even more this year for the top teams.  That’s also a major problem.  If only top schools get the benefit of the doubt (or the benefit of blindness), then that has a devastating effect on parity as well.

Other thoughts:

  • UCLA should be thanking their lucky stars that they are still in 7th after the score against Washington.  If they can pick things up against Stanford, they can prevent the same kind of toiling in 9th that they saw last season.
  • Speaking of Stanford, they are yet to break 196 with just six regular season meets remaining.  The time is now.
  • The biggest focus this weekend will be on Alabama, the only top school yet to break 197. Florida will be riding high after their most recent score and will come into Alabama with a ton of momentum.  Just as beating Arkansas at home was a huge confidence statement for Florida last week, beating Florida will be the same for Alabama this week.  A loss or low score will mean a lot of climbing uphill. 
  • Utah has a very strange schedule this year with a ton of home meets and only four road meets.  Expect them to put up another huge number against Georgia (expect both teams to do so), but then the pressure will really be on with road meets against Arizona State and Michigan (where it is particularly tough to score well) if they don’t want to plummet come RQS time.
  • We have a bunch of big rivalry meets this weekend, and scores always tend to go higher in those situations.  We’ll be on alert to see if anyone goes ahead of Florida’s 197.775.  I wouldn’t be surprised if someone does.  In fact, I would be quite surprised if someone doesn’t.  I’m hereby issuing a Severe 198 Warning for the Salt Lake City area on Friday evening between 6pm and 8pm local time.

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