National Championship Preview Part 4: Super Six

I always hesitate to do a Super Six preview at this point because…well…we don’t actually know who’s going to be competing in Super Six or what sort of catastrophes may transpire in the semifinal to alter our view of what might happen, but as it stands, I don’t think the setup is dramatically different than we thought it would be heading into the season.

The first-tier favorites are Oklahoma and LSU. Oklahoma’s route to victory is through superior scores on bars (the Sooners’ 0.160 edge over LSU in the bars rankings is the largest for either team on any event) and the overall control and pristine execution of dance elements on beam and floor. Both teams are excellent on beam and floor, but it has been the Sooners’ precision that has put them ahead of LSU in the rankings on both events for most of the season.

If LSU were to win, it would be far from a major upset, but I still would characterize it as an upset. If it happens, it begins on vault. LSU has a giant collection of 1.5s, but the strength of the lineup is not just the 1.5s (even though they garner the most attention). LSU’s early-lineup fulls are the most stick-likely fulls in the competition, which can be just as much of an asset. In fact, LSU’s early-lineup scores are a critical potential advantage across most of the events, where they’ll hope to be rewarded for bigger floor routines to start the rotation and where no other team can match the quality of their first two beam routines. Oklahoma has the edge in the later-lineup beam routines, so LSU will need to gain a scoring advantage on those early routines and also use them to drive up the scores of the later sets.

The most compelling spoiler team, if you can call it that, remains Florida, a team that has been at times easy to overlook this season because the quality hasn’t been YOU’RE THE CHAMPION RHONDA, but Florida’s scores should be close to title-competitive through most of the lineups. It’s really just a 9.825 here and there at the beginning that has kept Florida from reaching the heights of Oklahoma and LSU, but that means it wouldn’t take much of a door opening.

Several other teams can peck around the edges of this group and maybe beat one of them on a given day, but when it comes to the actual score required to win Super Six, there aren’t all that many teams I expect to get there this weekend. A 197.575 is the lowest winning score in recent years, and that was when Florida counted a fall and still won. To find a winning score below 197.450, we have to go back to 2000. In each of the last five years, it has taken at least twelve scores in the 9.9s to win Super Six. That’s a three-per-event average and a fairly typical expectation for the total required to win a championship. If we can’t find twelve 9.9s on your team, and if you’re not regularly breaking 197.450, you’re probably not winning.

As a guide to thinking about this, here are some stats regarding the number of 9.9+ scores teams received this season. It’s a rough and simplistic way of looking at title hopes, but it can clarify a few things about just how likely teams are to get championship-winning totals. Oklahoma and LSU are really the only ones getting around that mark of twelve 9.9s fairly frequently, with Florida close behind but nonetheless behind. UCLA’s eight RQSs in the 9.9s is the other number that stands out as somewhat close to the required total, but that mostly just tells us that if the Bruins had the vaults of one of the top-three teams, they would be a title favorite.

Regionals: 13
Lineup RQS: 16
Single-meet high: 14
Meet average: 11.9
Away average: 11.8

Regionals: 9
Lineup RQS: 13
Single-meet high: 14
Meet average: 10.1
Away average: 9.7

Regionals: 10
Lineup RQS: 9
Single-meet high: 12
Meet average: 8.3
Away average: 6.8

Regionals: 4
Lineup RQS: 8
Single-meet high: 12
Meet average: 7.1
Away average: 6.2

Regionals: 6
Lineup RQS: 6
Single-meet high: 13
Meet average: 6.8
Away average: 6.1

Regionals: 5
Lineup RQS: 6
Single-meet high: 13
Meet average: 6.3
Away average: 5.3

Regionals: 6
Lineup RQS: 4
Single-meet high: 14
Meet average: 6.3
Away average: 3.7

Regionals: 4
Lineup RQS: 4
Single-meet high: 7
Meet average: 3.5
Away average: 2.7

Oregon State
Regionals: 2
Lineup RQS: 4
Single-meet high: 9
Meet average: 5.0
Away average: 3.6

Regionals: 3
Lineup RQS: 3
Single-meet high: 9
Meet average: 4.6
Away average: 2.9

Regionals: 3
Lineup RQS: 2
Single-meet high: 8
Meet average: 4.0
Away average: 2.5

Regionals: 4
Lineup RQS: 0
Single-meet high: 7
Meet average: 3.6
Away average: 2.9

9 thoughts on “National Championship Preview Part 4: Super Six”

  1. Its honestly crazy that UCLA has that many 9.9 RQS ‘s when compared to other top teams especially considering LSU, OU and Florida are getting 2-4 JUST from vault.

    (and well UCLA has Kyla and Kocian and Peng but still)

  2. Interesting that if you look at season highs Michigan, OU and LSU have the some number, followed by Utah and Alabama with 1 less. So if everyone brings their A game …. anyone ready for a Michigan upset?

    1. The difference is OU and LSU likely have more 9.95+ and Michigan likely has more 9.9/9.925s.

      As much as I appreciate OU’s gymnastics (and expect OU to win), I’m hoping LSU can win their first title.

      1. And Michigan likely has more 9.8s and OU has more 9.875s in the non 9.9s., same for Utah and UCLA. Just goes to show how important all those stuck landings really are. I always had a problem with the view not to worry about them early in the season. My view is you should always worry about them – habits are habits – and they always come out under pressure. Still, fun to speculate with statistics.

      2. I completely agree about the stuck landings, especially for the top teams in the country who tend to do routines that are cleaner throughout than some of the lower ranked teams, so their landing deductions are a larger percentage of their total deductions. I got curious and decided to rewatch a random meet from one of the teams that is favored to make the Super Six, and landing deductions were about 30% of the total deductions to all routines counted in the team’s score. While it’s not reasonable to expect a team to stick every single landing in the entire meet, it is still interesting to think of how many points they could’ve gotten back just by cleaning up the landings.

    2. If you look at the meet where Michigan got 14 9.9/9.9+ scores, only 3 of them were 9.95 or higher. In comparison, when Oklahoma got 14, 5 of theirs were 9.95 or higher, and that wasn’t even their highest scoring meet. In their highest scoring meet, Oklahoma had 9 scores go 9.95 or higher. Another fact to consider about Michigan’s meet with 14 scores at or above 9.9 is that 6 of them were on floor. While that means that they had a really great floor rotation, that also means that one of their 9.9 scores didn’t even count toward their score. When Oklahoma had 9 scores go 9.95 or higher and an additional 4 that were 9.90 or 9.925, all 13 of their 9.9/9.9+ scores counted to their score. Bottom line: if everybody is on their A game, Oklahoma will beat Michigan by a significant margin, though Michigan will still put up a very nice score.

  3. I think it’s also worth pointing out that, to borrow from Animal Farm, “some 9.9s are more equal than others.” We all know there was some crack-fest scoring this season, so what teams really have 12 legit 9.9s come Saturday night? I think that, barring flukes or falls, it is the realness of the 9.9s that is going to decide the national champion.

    1. I think LSU has more potential actual 9.9’s than Oklahoma, but the thing is OK has 12 that they can take to the bank: Dowell, Jackson and Nichols on Vault, Lehrman, Wofford, and Nichols on Bars, Capps and Nichols on beam, Dowell, Capps, Jackson and Nichols on Floor. And many of those are likely 9.95’s.

      LSU could get 9.9’s from 5 vaulters, Finnegan/Priessman on bars, Hambrick, Finnegan, Gnat, or Macadeg on beam, and any of their floor workers. But the consistency isn’t there. The only “take it to the bank” 9.9s, to me, are Gnat on vault/floor, Priessman on bars, Finnegan on beam, and Mary Lou Junior on floor. So they could conceivably score 16 9.9’s or they could score 5.

      I don’t think Oklahoma is going to get to 16, but they are going to get 12, and, realistically, they’re going to get around 6 9.95’s. I don’t see how LSU gets that many 9.95’s.

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