We’re heading into our final Monday of rankings being based on season average, and the race for the #1 ranking is open. Oklahoma and LSU are so close together in the second and third places that whichever team scores higher at Metroplex on Saturday will jump ahead, but they’re both also within sight of Florida. Oklahoma would need to outscore Florida by .350 this weekend to go ahead, and LSU would need to do so by only slightly more to take over #1. This will be a challenge because Florida is competing at home this weekend, but it is conceivable.
Compared to the usual bushel of Friday meets, tomorrow’s schedule is fairly light, especially now that Georgia’s meet against Missouri has been cancelled. Still, there are a few must-follow meets remaining on the schedule. Michigan and Nebraska will go at each other in a Joanna Sampson v. Emily Wong battle royale to claim the official Tiara of Awesomeness along with momentary supremacy in the Big 10. Michigan would need to win the meet by .200 to climb ahead of Nebraska in the rankings.
ANNUAL TANGENTIAL RANT ALERT: The Michigan and Nebraska fight for the #7 ranking may not seem like a thing, but while I was going through the RQS numbers yesterday, I was reminded of the annual complaint I have (and everyone who has ever been alive has) about the backward way the seeding for regionals is conducted, which results in cases when it is more advantageous to be ranked #7 than to be ranked #1. For instance, if the season ended today, the top-seeded regional would contain  Florida,  Auburn, and  Oregon State, while another would contain  Georgia,  Nebraska, and  Denver. With two teams advancing from each regional, the 6th and 7th seeds have the far cushier deal there. Not only does the current system make it not really worth it to be #1, but it also makes regionals less interesting. Put Oregon State, as the #13 team, in with Georgia and Nebraska, and you have a real showdown for both advancing spots and a completely exciting meet. But that’s not going to happen. Ugh. The sighing. Oh, the sighing. It’s out of my system for the moment but will surely come up again when regionals come around.
Back to the action, Florida will also take on Arkansas on Friday, and Rhonda has been teasing a little bit more lineup resting, so we’ll have to wait to see how that actually plays out and whether Florida can record a 10.000 for the fourth weekend in a row. Arkansas has been stuck in the low 196s all season, but going to Florida is a prime opportunity to bust out of that rut. And if the 10s are flying again in Gainesville, they need to be flying in the direction of Katherine Grable, who is in the running for one on floor, vault, and beam and needs at least one before she graduates. It’s not a conversation. She needs one. Alabama also goes against Auburn, which is a thing in football apparently, but now that Auburn is kind of good, it could be a thing in gymnastics too. Expect Alabama to be comfortable in victory, especially given the bump in quality we saw last weekend, but Auburn is capable of a 197 if everything goes well.
The feature of Saturday is the Metroplex NCAA meet, where Oklahoma and LSU will be trying not to step on a rat king made of tangled Level 6s as they go against each other for a second-straight weekend, with Oklahoma aiming for a little revenge and a little not counting a fall on beam this time with ranking glory potentially in the balance. Action also carries over into Sunday and Monday this weekend with some fancy Pac-12 action on the docket. UCLA visits Washington in need of a road score, and Utah will try to keep the big-scoring and beam-hitting streak going against Stanford. Those are Pac-12 Network non-streamed meets, so I’ll be sure to keep you up on the action.
Top 25 Schedule
Friday – 2/14/14
7:00 ET/4:00 PT –  Arkansas @  Florida
7:00 ET/4:00 PT –  Michigan @  Nebraska
8:00 ET/5:00 PT –  Alabama @  Auburn
8:00 ET/5:00 PT –  Ohio State @ Iowa
9:00 ET/6:00 PT –  Denver @ Southern Utah
Saturday – 2/15/14
4:00 ET/1:00 PT –  Illinois @  Penn State
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Michigan State @  Minnesota
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Metroplex Challenge –  Oklahoma,  LSU,  Arizona, Kentucky
9:00 ET/6:00 PT –  Boise State, Utah State, Seattle Pacific @  Oregon State
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – BYU @  Arizona State
Sunday – 2/16/14
1:00 ET/10:00 PT –  Kent State @  Central Michigan
5:00 ET/2:00 PT –  UCLA @  Washington
Monday – 2/17/14
5:00 ET/2:00 PT –  Utah @  Stanford