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:

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


22 thoughts on “Nationals Preview Part 4: Super Six”

  1. One question I have: is Oklahoma actually better than last year? Or are they just getting friendlier scoring? I haven’t watched enough Oklahoma meets to tell, but I ask because I’ve seen individual routines from Nichols and while they’re still excellent, I think she was better last year and is nevertheless scoring higher this year.

    1. I think the scoring in general is higher last year and not just for them. I think they were a stronger team last year. I like a lot of things about Oklahoma but also wouldn’t mind if they were upset. Really, I just want whoever wins to have a lights out meet the way Oklahoma did last year.

  2. I think Oklahoma is overscored. Or maybe I just don’t get the appeal of their routines, they all look so similar on everything.
    Don’t get me wrong, their gymnastics is extremely clean and precise, and you can clearly see that they put so much effort in the training etc.
    I’m really hoping for an upset though, Florida, UCLA, LSU, even Utah 🙂

  3. I’d love an upset too. Oklahoma is great but them winning almost seems like a foregone conclusion and I don’t want it to be a foregone conclusion. At any rate, I hope it’s a close competition with all the teams performing at their best so there’s no, “Well if so and so didn’t fall or wobble” type comments after the fact.

  4. I’m def. ready for a changing of the guard. Even though I appreciate what they do and how well they do it, I don’t feel as invested in them as a team. I don’t know exactly why, I guess I need more of a fun side to go with the serious in college gymnastics.

  5. I agree that Oklahoma was better last year than they are this year but not ridiculously so and I think every team in the conversation, with the exception of ucla, were better last year than they are this year. And they’ve all been beneficiaries of cracky scoring here and there. I disagree that Oklahoma is all serious and no fun. I think what sets them apart is that they’re able to have fun but still take seriously being as perfect as they can be for their team to win. Some of the more “fun” teams tend to get sloppy here and there so instead of hoping that your favorite team wins because they’re more “fun” than Oklahoma, maybe ask that they continue to have fun but also take winning a bit more seriously because they have the goods to do so! I just hope that every team has their best possible meet at nationals and may the best team win!

  6. I feel like Florida is either going to have a meltdown and miss Super Six or challenge Oklahoma (and LSU and UCLA) for the title. There’s no in between. I love my Gators, but they’ve made me so nervous/frustrated so many times this season :/

    1. I completely agree and think this depends on how McMurtry does. She’s the most likely to get a 10 and/or fall.

  7. I agree with everyone hoping for a close and well-performed nationals. It’s just not as fun when one team is so dominant (similarly, I feel like elite’s been a lot less interesting since 2012).
    Whether one likes Oklahoma or not, their coach absolutely deserves credit for bringing that program to where it is today. She’s done an incredible job.

    1. Yes, agree with all of this and you hit on something I missed with my post above which is while I hope whoever wins has a lights out performance, it would be even better if the second place team also has a lights out performance and we have a real meet on our hands. Because as much as I appreciated Oklahoma’s strong performance last year, imagine how much better it could have been if LSU had repeated their performance from the semis and the results came down to the wire. I think Oklahoma was the better team and still would have/should have won if they had done all their same routines but it would have been very exciting.

  8. Saw Oklahoma and UCLA in person this year…and Oklahoma knows how to stick their landings consistently. That comes in handy at nationals.

    When nationals are over, we’ll likely hear the same conclusion that UCLA again did not have enough 10.0 starting value vaults for a championship. A repeat of UCLA’s ‘maybe next year’ refrain would particularly sting for UCLA fans considering that this was Peng’s final season.

    1. …I’m a UCLA fan, but I don’t think they can reasonably hope for higher than runner-up and IMO even that would be a huge achievement. So I already think “maybe next year.” 🙂 Peng’s great, but new gymnasts will come too and hopefully veterans will improve.
      I would appreciate it though if they performed up to their potential at nationals.

      1. UCLA’s challenge, and Florida too, will be to keep all the former elites healthy.

  9. Here’s how I predict the Super Six will end up:
    1) Oklahoma (they’ve been the best all season and should win)
    2-3) LSU and UCLA (could go in either order)
    4) Florida (I think they’ll pull it out)
    5) Utah (repeat of last year’s final performance, but they should be better in 2019)
    6) Alabama (they don’t have the firepower to keep up)

    I don’t think this year’s Super Six will finish much differently from last year’s.

    1. Crossing fingers for wild semifinals where two Top 5 teams have major issues and don’t qualify for Super Six. Then we’ll get a couple of out of the blue surprises making it to Super Six and a surprise winner…

      But it’ll probably be boring and predictable. 🙂 We need drama so we can dissect it in the comments and try to figure out what went wrong.

      PS – Any chance and just for fun you could do a Super Six preview with Alabama as the “six-lock)” and what the other teams need to do to catch them and qualify for Super Six. Or where Alabama needs to make mistakes – I think with the except of Nebraska all the other teams will need a least one bad rotation from the Tide (not necessarily a fall, just a couple lower counting 9.7s).

    2. I think Utah is going to sneak in and take the 2-3 spot. My prediction:
      1- Oklahoma
      2- Utah
      3- LSU
      4- UCLA
      5- Florida
      6- Nebraska

  10. I agree with Oklahoma being overscored, but they are super consistent. Florida is too all over the place and honestly losing Baker was huge. If Florida makes Super Six, I don’t think they can do two consistent nights. I don’t think Alabama can do two consistent nights. Ok, LSU, and Utah are the most consistent. UCLA is still a tad unpredictable…when they are off…they are real off. They are in better conditioning shape which is huge. I predict: LSU, Utah, Oklahoma, UCLA, Nebraska, Florida. No Alabama. UCLA has the showmanship…but, not consistently clean on some of the difficulty. UCLA may be weak on vault, but I still think floor can go off the rails. Utah on bars is their weak link….not beam. If they hit bars…then they are in the running. I hope it is interesting and we are kept in suspense and guessing.

  11. There are several gymnasts that are not docked when they are obviously not in control of their landing on floor and jump out of it and travel a good distance…I think they may get docked including Ohashi, sometimes MMG, Hano…to name a few.

    1. Agreed. Gymnasts who leap out of tumbling passes usually get no deduction because the landing is disguised. It’s on the judges to be sure that the leap is executed correctly (full split or shape, and not flying 4 feet during the leap) to be sure that the gymnast gets full credit. One leap out of a tumbling pass in a lineup of 6 doesn’t bother me – 3 in two routines (UCLA) bothers me because they don’t get the deductions they often incur.

      1. Would be nice if the number of “jump outs” was limited to 1 per routine. I love Ohashi’s floor – it is one of the most entertaining routines I have ever seen. That being said, every pass has a jump out. Well done jump outs but still . . . There needs to be a limit so the control is evenly judgeable (is that a word) You know what I mean. When you see a pass with a totally stuck landing it is really impressive and should be rewarded.

      2. I agree but on that note I also think the controlled lunge shouldn’t be counted the same as a stick. I hate seeing all these routines with “controlled” lunges getting 10s. I have no idea how that would work in scoring technically, though, it’s more of a wish. The controlled lunge is a good idea from a safety standpoint, especially since these gymnasts are older and putting their bodies under a lot of strain every week. It’s just not as impressive as a stuck landing and “control” seems to be pretty relative.

      3. I like allowing controlled lunges, but judges need to actually take deductions for lack of control.

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