The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Nationals Preview Part 4: Super Six

Super Six previews are weird to do, so here’s one.

At this point, we don’t know which teams will even be competing in Super Six, but we’ve all been watching this unfold for 80 million weeks and have a pretty solid sense of what’s going on.

Last season, we entered nationals with the expectation that Oklahoma would be the winner, LSU had the potential to be a fairly unsurprising upset champion, and Florida could challenge if things got weird. Ultimately, that’s what we ended up seeing. LSU made things a little more interesting than expected after the semifinal, but in the end, things went as regular season performance predicted.

This year, the scenario is not wholly different, with the only major change being that UCLA has become noticeably better than it was last year and should be included in this top-tier, medal-finish conversation (if medals were a thing here). The other differences are of small degree: Oklahoma has separated itself from the pack a little more this season, and Florida has fallen behind Utah with its inconsistent regular-season performances, meaning that a true title challenge from Florida would be more of a surprise than it would have been last year.

But besides going down the rankings and ticking off the favorites in order, it can be helpful to go through previous championship scoring standards to see which teams have proven the ability to meet those standards during this current season.

Winning scores
2017 – Oklahoma – 198.3875
2016 – Oklahoma – 197.675
2015 – Florida – 197.850
2014 – Florida/Oklahoma – 198.175
2013 – Florida – 197.575
2012 – Alabama – 197.850
2011 – Alabama – 197.650
2010 – UCLA – 197.725

The low in here is that 197.575 from when Florida counted a fall and still won, so that’s not too representative. The way scores have been going this year—as compared to the early 2010s—expect a winning total closer to the high-water mark here rather than the low. That’s the first standard to look at. Can you realistically score 197.8+? The winning score is likely to be in that zone. Sure, we could have another 2016 on our hands—not an insane thing to think—but season scoring evidence hasn’t really been pointing that direction.

In 2018, five teams have hit the 197.8+ zone: Oklahoma, LSU, UCLA, Florida, and Utah. Oklahoma, LSU, and UCLA are the only teams to have hit that mark on the road (UCLA at exactly 197.800, Oklahoma and LSU in the 198s), which reinforces expectations based on the overall rankings.

Some other standards that have carried through from year to year to keep in mind:

Vault
In the new start-value era (which limits things a little because it’s still recent) no team has finished in the top 3 in Super Six without performing at least three 10.0 starts on vault. It typically takes four. The only team to have done it with only three was Oklahoma in 2016, and the 49.225 Oklahoma scored on vault that year ranked fourth in Super Six and nearly spoiled the title run. A title winner getting away with any 49.225 event this year would be unexpected.

UCLA is hoping to change the three-10.0 standard with its two 10.0 starts on vault, but that vault difficulty is still a possible red X in the Bruins’ column, as discussed ad nauseam. Meeting the start-value standard this year, Oklahoma is planning to show four 10.0 starts, while Florida, Utah, and Alabama show three, and LSU shows…probably four? But also TBD? Maybe more, maybe fewer? LSU’s RQS gap versus Oklahoma is largest on vault, a significant contributor to expectations that Oklahoma will be the better team at nationals this year. LSU will be looking for a secret-weapon vault performance that flips things.

Crazy floor
Something else champions have had in common is using cracky floor scoring to their advantage. The last six champion teams (including both Florida and Oklahoma in 2014) have scored no lower than 49.575 on floor in Super Six. As we’ve seen, crazy-high scores are there to be taken on floor more than any other event. A great floor tends to be rewarded with a higher number than a similarly great vault or bars rotation, which means teams must take advantage of floor, lest they dig themselves inescapable holes.

In only one of those championship cases (Florida 2013) was that Super Six floor score a season high—and then only by a quarter tenth. Overall, the winning teams not only get big floor scores but get big floor scores with precedent, reaching totals they have already reached during the season.

The top six teams have all hit 49.575 at least once this year, though UCLA is the only team with an RQS that reaches that number. Alabama has done 49.575 once, Florida twice, Utah and LSU three times, and UCLA and Oklahoma four times.

Even in Florida’s strong regionals performance, the floor score was still 49.325 and the lowest of the four events, so that remains the primary “is Florida in this?” event. I would be quite surprised if a 49.3 on floor gets a title this year.

The 9.9s
For the last six years, every title winner has recorded at least twelve 9.9s in Super Six, which is an average of three per event, or half the lineup. History tells us that if you can’t find 9.9s in half of every lineup, you’re probably not winning. So here’s the 9.9 status for every team at nationals, a picture that reinforces the idea of a big five, an Alabama, and then everyone else, with Nebraska turning into the most compelling challenger.

Oklahoma
Regionals 9.9s: 12
Conference championship 9.9s: 12
Lineup RQS 9.9s: 16

LSU
Regionals 9.9s: 11
Conference championship 9.9s: 7
Lineup RQS 9.9s: 12

UCLA
Regionals 9.9s: 10
Conference championship 9.9s: 10
Lineup RQS 9.9s: 11

Utah
Regionals 9.9s: 11
Conference championship 9.9s: 9
Lineup RQS 9.9s: 6

Florida
Regionals 9.9s: 11
Conference championship 9.9s: 11
Lineup RQS 9.9s: 10

Alabama
Regionals 9.9s: 7
Conference championship 9.9s: 6
Lineup RQS 9.9s: 6

Washington
Regionals 9.9s: 3
Conference championship 9.9s: 1
Lineup RQS 9.9s: 3

California
Regionals 9.9s: 2
Conference championship 9.9s: 6
Lineup RQS 9.9s: 2

Arkansas
Regionals 9.9s: 4
Conference championship 9.9s: 1
Lineup RQS 9.9s: 3

Nebraska
Regionals 9.9s: 8
Conference championship 9.9s: 7
Lineup RQS 9.9s: 5

Kentucky
Regionals 9.9s: 7
Conference championship 9.9s: 3
Lineup RQS 9.9s: 3

Georgia
Regionals 9.9s: 3
Conference championship 9.9s: 1
Lineup RQS 9.9s: 2


 

%d bloggers like this: