Regional Championships Selection

It’s all set now. With (a little too) much house music and bugle interludes, the NCAA has announced which teams have been sorted into which regionals. The setup is the one I listed as Option #4 yesterday based on my reading of the rules, but I’m more than OK with it because I think it’s a pretty sane decision and among the more logical of the four placement possibilities. Georgia was moved one spot while Minnesota was moved two, which makes sense since Georgia is the higher ranked team, and the teams that were affected by the two-spot Minnesota move were each adjusted downward one spot rather than “exchanged,” which is more fair overall.

Weirdly, I’m actually happy with what the committee came up with and think it was the right call given the rankings and hosts. That’s out of character, so I’ll let you know when I have something to complain about. It will happen in time.

I am disappointed that there weren’t any really terrible pronunciations coming from our selection show host this year to add to the pantheon of Georgia Burritz (a burrito that doesn’t wear grips?) and Lymeenis Hall (just…no). He did say Danuzza Francis, but that’s not even that bad.



IOWA (5:00 ET/2:00 PT)
Kent State
Central Michigan

Just three AAers join this section because there were only three ranked AAers in this region that weren’t already going with a team. That’s why there’s an extra individual event specialist on each event.

AA: Corbett, Western Michigan; Hood, Western Michigan; White, Centenary
VT: Christian, Ball State; Buis, Western Michigan; Ebeyer, Ball State
UB: Penny, Ball State, Peszek, Western Michigan; Juncaj, Western Michigan
BB: Underwood, Western Michigan; Peszek, Western Michigan; Bell, Ball State
FX: Christian, Ball State; Underwood, Western Michigan, Ebeyer, Ball State

Should be an exciting race for that second spot because Nebraska and Arkansas have displayed very similar scoring potential this year, with Arkansas more consistent but with Nebraska probably having the higher peak on a great day. Wouldn’t want to pick it. Plus, there’s Iowa as a host, having scored mid-196s often at home this season. Shouldn’t be more than a few tenths separating those three.

UTAH (8:00 ET/5:00 PT)
Southern Utah
Utah State

AA: McCartney, Sacramento State; Rice, Sacramento State; Hundley, Seattle Pacific; Matsunami, Alaska
VT: Konner, Sacramento State; Nogaki, Davis
UB: Brown, Davis; Benning, Sacramento State
BB: Stamates, Davis; Nogaki, Davis
FX: Stamates, Davis; Benning, Sacramento State

Utah and UCLA will be expected to come through this regional given hit meets, but Washington and Southern Utah are both mid-196 capable groups, and Illinois is still Illinois in spite of being so depleted. Utah has two losses to UCLA already this year. The fans will be aware of this.

ALABAMA (5:00 ET/2:00 PT)
Boise State
West Virginia
Bowling Green

Taylor Allex will be competing as an individual. Yep, Arizona State heading to Alabama. “Regionals.”

AA: Brawner, SEMO; Salas, Arizona State; Northern, UIC; Israel, SEMO
VT: Allex, Arizona State; Vorrhis, Northern Illinois
UB: Carter, Northern Illinois; Africano, Northern Illinois
BB: Mohler, Illinois State; Greenfield, Northern Illinois
FX: Allex, Arizona State; Jones, SEMO

I’m really excited by this one because we’re guaranteed to have a nationals qualifier that we wouldn’t necessarily have expected heading into the season, with Cal, Boise State, and Kentucky (based on what we saw at SECs) in it for that second spot. All three of these teams could get into the high 196s, and Boise State spent much of the early part of the season outscoring Cal. All would have been threats if distributed to other regionals. Bowling Green made regionals!


MINNESOTA (5:00 ET/2:00 PT)
Ohio State

AA: Young, Iowa State; Sievers, Iowa State; Witgen, Air Force; Lewis, Air Force
VT: Converse, Iowa State; Ledesma, Iowa State
UB: Green, Iowa State; Smith, UW-Whitewater
BB: Marasco, Iowa State; Converse, Iowa State
FX: Ledesma, Iowa State; Paz, Iowa State

Overall season form would tell us that Denver joins Florida coming out of this regional, but Minnesota is at home and has flown up in the scores over the last month, making this a little more exciting than it would have seemed otherwise. Who’s scoring higher on floor, Nina McGee or Lindsay Mable (or Bridgey Caquatto…)? Missouri had more troubles at SECs than the other sides, but we’ve seen the mid-196s.

MICHIGAN (6:00 ET/3:00 PT)
Eastern Michigan
Penn State
New Hampshire

AA: Offutt, Pittsburgh; Groden, Rutgers; Valentine, West Chester; Pearson, Pittsburgh
VT: Wilson, Rutgers; Amoresano, Rutgers
UB: Liautaud, Bridgeport; Botson, Pittsburgh
BB: Green, Cornell; Comport, Bridgeport
FX: Comport, Bridgeport; Cutolo, Bridgeport

YESSSSSS PLEASSSSSE. This is the one we’ve been excited about. Stanford still probably comes in as the underdog because of season form and the performance at Pac-12s, which was more competitive than the score might suggest compared to the scores from the other teams in this section but was still somewhat ragged. They may need to pull out some special Stanford last-minute projects like Hong on floor to boost the scoring potential. Stanford has a very good shot to win bars and beam at this regional, but Auburn and Michigan will soar on floor, so can Stanford minimize the deficit? We’ll have to do a lot of talking about this one.

GEORGIA (4:00 ET/1:00 PT)
Oregon State
George Washington
Michigan State

AA: Watkins, NC State; Lane, North Carolina; McKellar, Towson; Stover, William & Mary
VT: Tang, Maryland; Knight, NC State
UB: Epperson, Maryland; Hedelund, North Carolina
BB: Arduino, Towson; Wild, NC State
FX: Tang, Maryland, Roberts, Maryland

Don’t sleep on Oregon State. This really should be the LSU/Georgia show, and that’s what I would pick if I were making a call, but Oregon State has improved miles in the last month. A lot will depend on how vault and floor are evaluated. LSU and Georgia have MUCH bigger floor lineups than Oregon State, but Oregon State has been minimizing deductions lately, and the beam performance at Pac-12s was lovely. Will Georgia’s beam be lovely?

Semifinals should work out relatively evenly (at least in terms of quality of teams, though one semi will be very SEC loaded), but so much will depend on who actually gets through. If we have an upset, it could make for a really uneven distribution, which is why I don’t love making the semifinal draw in advance.

17 thoughts on “Regional Championships Selection”

  1. I feel a little bad for Georgia. They should have been matched with a 4 and 16 and they got a 3 and 13. I understand that there are seeding issues this year due to host rankings, but I just don't like it.

    I also feel badly for Auburn and Michigan getting Stanford as a third seed — but that's all on Stanford stinking it up all season (minus one meet). I know Stanford can come out of nowhere and start hitting on vault and floor, but I hope Auburn and Michigan advance from this regional (with Ebee qualifying as an AA-er and Hong on BB).


  2. My predictions that mean absolutely nothing and will likely be completely wrong:

    Oklahoma, Nebraska (would love to see Iowa make it tho), Utah, UCLA, Alabama, Boise St, Florida, Minnesota, LSU, Georgia, Auburn, and Michigan.

    Super Six (because why not): Oklahoma, Alabama, Utah, Florida, LSU, and Georgia
    Winner: Oklahoma (although I would love LSU to win this year)


  3. The 3 teams in the Athens all kind of got the short end of the stick IMO. LSU is supposed to be matched with a 10 and a 15 – they got a 9 and a 13t; Oregon State was supposed to get a 1/2 and 11/12 (accounting for the tie) and ended up with a 3 and 9; and Georgia as you said ended up with higher seeded teams as well. Of course, there was no way to change the teams around without some teams ending up in a more difficult Regional than they otherwise would have. At least it should make for some good competitions!


  4. If we could only have Cinderella crash this party like teams do in Men's basketball. Here's a great place for a Glass Slipper. Just imagine, Bowling Green's highest score of the season is higher than the average score of everyone in their Regional except Alabama. Hmmmm, wouldn't that be a story and keep viewers interested?


  5. I think instead of a 6 seed, maybe a 4 or 5 seed would have the same effect. Remember, a 16 seed has never beaten a 1 seed in March Madness. I expect a 6 seed will never make it to nationals. But a 4 or 5 has a shot, albeit a small one. Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky, GWU, and Penn State could potentially get an upset win if some of the top teams falter. To make things even crazier — imagine if a 3/4 make it over 1/2. Now that would be a huge upset.

    Die hard gymnastics fans will watch no matter what teams make it. Outside of diehards, school fans will watch when their school makes it. So, from the NCAAs perspective, I suspect they would like the big names programs to make it. There's a reason in football the old BCS system favored the big name programs (Ohio State, Alabama, USC, etc.) over the smaller or emerging programs (Boise State, BYU, and even Utah).


  6. Interesting topic. If they're looking to grow the sport, gain revenue with a higher TV audience, then the die-hards be damned. The die-hards have barely gotten the sport on ESPN3 with frequency. Plain old regular folk watch the first two rounds of Men's basketball looking for the upset. Plain old regular folk understand the “#15” next to Middle Tennessee State and the “#2” next to Michigan State.

    That drives attention, that drives audiences and that drives revenue. You don't grow the sport, nor the revenue on die-hards (see NHL). Put an automatic bid on the line at each Conference Championship and watch how much attention the sport starts to get (see ESPN “Championship Week”), the week before the opening round.
    What's the worst thing that happens, more “regular folk” learn how good these athletes really are? Die-hards, be damned.


  7. I'm pretty sure Anon @8:20 was basically saying the same thing — die hards will always watch; thus, any changes won't be geared towards them (aka likely geared towards those of who follow NCAA gym blogs).

    I agree that fans of schools with big programs is where we should start. Look at the attendance Auburn has pulled in this year. They are filling their arena because the team is consistently in the top 10 and competing with the best. All of the top programs should be doing the same. Michigan's attendance is dreadful and UCLA's has improved in the past few years, but it used to be horrible. The schools (especially the coaches and athletic directors) have to push to fill their arenas. Suzanna, Sarah, and Greg did that part so well and look at their schools attendance numbers.

    Create energy on campus —> fill arenas —> live TV —> increased exposure and growth

    ESPN won't start treating women's gymnastics as a premier sport until the school's do themselves.


  8. Anyone know who won the SEC GOTY, FOTY, and Specialist/Coach awards? It's the only conference I haven't been able to find.


  9. Make NCAAs head to head. 12 teams qualify. Instead of two sessions, you have six meets (1 v. 12, 2 v.11, 3 v.10, 4 v. 9, 5 v. 8, 6 v. 7) The losing team is eliminated and the 6 winning teams move on to finals. Or take it a step further and have those six teams face off in head to head meets with three eliminated; thus, leaving a three team final.

    Or eliminate regionals all together and have 16 teams qualify to “quarterfinals” with 8 head-to-head elimination meets. 8 teams move on to semifinals with 4 head-to-head meets and the four winners then compete in finals.


  10. Also, move championship meets back to college campuses! Conference championships and Nationals should be on a campus. This environment is so much better. It is so sad to see the lack of crowds at Nationals and at conference championship. The energy of Nationals when they were at Utah and Georgia was incredible.


  11. Back to the “Grow the Sport” comment. We all agree that the athletes are some of the best in the world and it's a great sport, only watched by the niche die-hards. The challenge is creating awareness in the mid-majors and smaller teams – that's what NCAA baseball, basketball and even football has done (examples shortly).

    NCAA basketball ratings went through the roof with March Madness – because a bottom seed could pull an upset and get regular fans emotionally bought in. That helps the mid-major programs like Butler and Gonzaga who years ago were languishing in obscurity but grew their programs by success in the NCAA's. Florida Gulf Coast and Middle Tennessee State are just staring that ascension. Even Boise State football went big-time because the NCAA was forced to change their BCS style creating a path for the mid-major to be successful.

    You grow the sport at the bottom, not the top. Obviously, with only a few exceptions does the current setup drive attention, in-person fans and awareness.

    Anyone ever try to explain the current NCAA gymnastics bid process to Joe-Q-Public? It's embarrassing. Change the qualifying process to a combination of RQS, Strength of Schedule and RPI. Allow EVERY conference champion to the NCAA's – even the ECAC. That's what other sports do and it works. Even NCAA baseball has their selection show and all their NCAA regional games on the major ESPN networks, not buried on or ESPN3.

    So, invite all the Conference champions to the NCAAs, but expand to 48 teams from the current 36 (again, think of the interest in all the smaller conferences if an NCAA bid is on the line during Conference Championships). Start off with 12, 4-team Regional playoffs with the Top-2 teams in each advancing. This will enable a Cinderella to advance while exposing mid-majors to the top programs of the sport and that helps the sport grow – not making the rich, richer. Let the higher seeds host the first round.

    Take the 24 who survive the regional round and advance to six, 4-team Super Regionals with pre-determined sites like they are today. The top-2 teams in each Super Regional advance to Finals in the structure that they are today.

    You grow the sport at the bottom and the grass roots. Make wins and losses actually count for something and the average fan begins to understand.

    Don't shorten the number of NCAA teams, expand them


  12. I get what you are saying, but I don't think expanding will boost TV ratings or bring in more fans. March madness has 68 teams and there are around 350 division 1 programs in NCAA. So about 20% of teams make it into the post-season.

    If you expand the post-season to 48 teams that's almost 60% of teams making into the post-season (road to nationals ranks 82, which is what I'm basing it on). To me that's way too many. Making post-season should mean something. Allowing nearly everyone in minimizes the importance of the regular season. I feel like that's just rewarding mediocrity.

    In addition, the issue with gymnastics (much like swimming) is that you don't have “built-in” fan base. Football, basketball, and to a lesser extent baseball, are huge across the country in youth sports and high school. How many teenagers spend Friday nights in the fall at their high school football games? It's huge. So when they go to college, going to football games or basketball games is second-nature. Even if they never played (which so many youth actually have played) they know the rules and they understand the scoring. If NCAA gymnastics wants to truly expand its base and increase TV ratings (which is ultimately what they care about), I think they need to start looking at the youth/high school programs. This is a sport that is in so few high schools; thus, unless a gymnast is training in high school, they likely aren't big “fans” outside of the Olympics. Changing that mindset and creating exposure to the sport younger before college, I think would also lead to getting more people in the seats.


  13. KJ Kindler's Iowa State made it all the way to the Super Six. I still think she could have built ISU into a power had she stayed.


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