The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

NCAA Week 4 – Schedule and Links

Thursday, January 25 Scores Stream
6:00 ET/3:00 PT – Iowa @ Maryland LINK BTN
Friday, January 26 Scores Stream
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [1] Oklahoma @ [5] Florida  LINK  SEC+
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [11] Georgia @ [10] Arkansas  LINK  SECN
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – North Carolina, Yale, Ursinus @ Towson  LINK  FREE
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – SEMO @ Penn  LINK
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – UW-Whitewater, Hamline @ Winona State FREE
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Gustavus Adolphus @ UW-Stout LINK  FREE
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – TWU @ [25] Iowa State LINK  ISU($)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [3] Utah @ [21] Arizona  LINK  P12N
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – [17] Missouri @ [7] Alabama  SEC+
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – [6] Kentucky @ [16] Auburn LINK  SECN
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [9] Boise State @ Southern Utah  LINK  FREE
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Air Force @ [22] BYU  LINK  FREE
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – [24] West Virginia, Illinois-Chicago @ UC Davis  LINK  FREE
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – Sacramento State @ San Jose State  LINK  FREE
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – Lindenwood, UW-Eau Claire @ Seattle Pacific  LINK  FREE
Saturday, January 27 Scores Stream
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – Cortland, Rhode Island @ West Chester  LINK
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – Brown, Brockport, Southern Connecticut @ Springfield  FREE
3:00 ET/12:00 PT – [8] Michigan @ [12] Nebraska  LINK  UNL($)
3:00 ET/12:00 PT – UW-La Crosse @ UW-Oshkosh
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Illinois @ Penn State  LINK  FREE
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Minnesota, Illinois State @ Ohio State  LINK  CSL($)
5:30 ET/2:30 PT – [23] Stanford @ [18] Oregon State  LINK  P12N
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Eastern Michigan, Rutgers, Pittsburgh @ Michigan State  LINK BTN+
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Metroplex Challenge ([2] LSU, [4] UCLA, [14] Washington, NC State)  FLO
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Utah State @ [13] Denver  LINK
Sunday, January 28 Scores Stream
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – George Washington @ New Hampshire  LINK  FREE
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – Bowling Green @ Western Michigan  ESPN3
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – [20] Kent State @ Ball State LINK  FREE
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – Cornell, SEMO, Ithaca @ Temple
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – Cal @ [14] Arizona State P12N
3:00 ET/12:00 PT – [19] Central Michigan @ Northern Illinois  LINK  NIU($)

*Meets marked SECN, BTN, or P12N will be broadcast live on TV and may also be streamed online for those who have cable-subscriber log-ins or subscriptions to participating Sling, Roku whatnots.

*Meets marked SECN+ may be streamed on the WatchESPN app for those who have cable-subscriber log-ins or subscriptions to participating Sling, Roku whatnots.

*Meets marked ESPN3 may be streamed on the WatchESPN app for those who have a participating ISP.

*Meets marked BTN+/FLO may be streamed either through a paid subscription to BTN+ ($10/month) or a paid subscription to FloGymnastics ($30/month).

*Meets marked [School]$ are streamed through school-specific services and require a subscription to that school’s web streaming, or in the case of CSL($), a subscription to college sports live.

*Meets marked FREE are streamed through school-specific services and require no log-in or subscription fee.

Marquee Meet

 [1] Oklahoma @ [5] Florida

In its first three competitions of the season, Florida has had one “fine but lost” (LSU) and two “bad but won” (West Virginia, Kentucky), and unfortunately for the Gators, a clash against Oklahoma doesn’t exactly present the best opportunity for the elusive “great and also won” that the Gators crave. While Florida certainly has the talent this year to defeat Oklahoma and should be given a partial chance to win this one (especially at home), early-season form indicates the Sooners are the favorite.

More important than winning—which, as we know, doesn’t actually matter, just feels nice—will be Florida showing a degree of progress toward ideal lineups and mid-season quality. Against Oklahoma, Florida will put up its best-available routines, so watch to see if that includes Baumann getting into the vault lineup (or ideally Skaggs with the 1.5), a resolved beam routine for Kennedy Baker (the wolf double…), and Amelia Hundley. Hundley is important for Florida, but the “and none for Amelia Hundley” scores that have characterized the early season won’t cut it and won’t get her into beam/floor lineups right now. She needs to be in those lineups and scoring at least 9.850. A few points of progress on each event would provide better justification for the argument that the Gators will be a title contender come April.

Florida needs this meet to be a 197, and not just barely sneaking into the 197s either. That shouldn’t be much to ask. Oklahoma, in turn, will know that a high 197 will be required to feel comfortable in this one.

The Sooners can have few complaints about how things are progressing through the first two meets of the year, except when it comes to floor. The Sooners are #1 overall and #1 on vault, bars, and beam, but NOT floor, like slackers. In the most recent meet, too many clunky floor passes meant the competition ended on a low note in the 49.1s. The lineup still looks pretty TBD for the three spots that aren’t Jackson, Nichols, and Dowell, so we’ll see if anyone else gets a shot against Florida (is there anyone else?) as we wait for Natalie Brown to join the fray again.

Other marquee meet

  Metroplex Challenge

*Public service announcement that I won’t be live blogging Metroplex this year. So, if you don’t have Flo, maybe you can convince someone else to do it.

It has been a long, long while since LSU and UCLA competed in a non-postseason context, so the novelty of it all will be…something? Maybe? UCLA succeeded in its other meet against a realistic Super Six contender this month, outscoring Utah in Reno, but the direct comparison against one of the big-three title contenders in this meet will be revealing. How far away are the Bruins from being in that conversation? LSU is the solid favorite here, but UCLA will be looking at margins, particularly on vault. Are they manageable or deflating?

One thing that has been revealed for LSU through the first three meets: just how important Kennedi Edney is to those leg-event lineups. LSU has enough depth to fill in the gaps when she hasn’t been available, but there’s a clear drop in level. Edney has the most reliable 10.0 vault and the best tumbling (save Hambrick), and those lineups look vaguely vulnerable without her.

Games of five — For sheer tension factor, nothing beats a lineup of five, where all scores must count. In that regard, you’ll want to watch Georgia on floor, Stanford on bars, and Denver on vault and floor, all of which had lineups of just five gymnasts last week. For those teams, their whole meets can be turned with a single routine.

Somebody help Michigan up — Michigan was chugging along very nicely as one of the best-scoring and most prepared teams in the first two weeks, and then everything fell apart with a 194 last weekend.

The Wolverines will want to prove to all of us that it was just a one-week nothing. (In the words of Suzanne Yoculan, “It’s like a cough.  Where did it come from?”) Nebraska will provide a 196 —Michigan’s most difficult meet until March—which heightens the expectations for what a successful meet score would be for Michigan. It has to be a LOT better than last week.


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