2021 Regionals Draw

The regional championship assignments have been announced, and we now know which unseeded teams have been “geographically” placed at which regional sites. I put “geographically” in quotes because it is a farce, since if you were actually geographically assigning teams, most teams would end up going to West Virginia, and instead, you ended up sending Temple to Utah because of…checks notes…the geography.

So, yeah, the selection-show-that-could-have-been-an-email has revealed exactly how many ways they screwed this up. (IT’S A LOT.) Including how the image to illustrate “women’s gymnastics” was of Jade Degouveia, who hasn’t competed for a year.

Let’s dissect it as a family.

Format review: The winner of each Thursday (April 1) play-in joins semifinal #1. The top 2 teams in each regional semifinal on Friday (April 2) advance to the regional final on Saturday (April 3). The top two teams in the regional final advance to nationals.


Thursday play-in
NC State v Western Michigan

Semifinal #1
[1] Florida
[4] Illinois
Central Michigan
Play-in Winner

Semifinal #2
[2] Minnesota
[3] Denver
Oregon State

AA Individuals
Emily Shepard – NC State
Elizabeth Culton – North Carolina
Payton Murphy – Western Michigan

Event Individuals
VT – Anika Dujakovich – Nebraska; Chloe Negrete – NC State
UB – Kynsee Roby – Nebraska; Kinsey Davis – Nebraska; Katelyn Cox – NC State; Meredith Robinson – NC State
BB – Kynsee Roby – Nebraska; Kaitlyn Higgins – Nebraska; Kathryn Thaler – Nebraska; Chloe Negrete – NC State
FX – Chloe Negrete – NC State; Kylie Piringer – Nebraska; Isabel Goyco – TWU

**Event individuals include those from play-in teams so that if they happened to be eliminated in the play-in, they can still compete the next day in the hope of advancing to nationals, as individual qualification to nationals is based on the Friday results.


Thursday play-in
Eastern Michigan v. Maryland

Semifinal #1
[1] Oklahoma
[4] Auburn
Play-in Winner

Semifinal #2
[2] Alabama
[3] Arkansas
Iowa State

AA Individuals
Audrey Barber – Maryland
Angelica Labat – Illinois State
Hadyn Crossen – Eastern Michigan

Event Individuals
VT – Alexsis Rubio – Maryland; Reese McClure – Maryland; Victoria Henry – Ball State; Collea Burgess – Maryland
UB – Cortney Bezold – Eastern Michigan; Jada Rondeau – Eastern Michigan; Grace Evans – Ball State; Megan Teter – Ball State
BB – Caitlin Satler – Eastern Michigan; Jada Rondeau – Eastern Michigan – Reese McClure – Maryland; Shannon Gregory – Eastern Michigan
FX – Cameron Topp – Illinois State; Claudia Goyco – Ball State; Jada Rondeau – Eastern Michigan


Thursday play-in
Temple v. Arizona

Semifinal #1
[1] LSU
[4] Kentucky
Utah State
Play-In Winner

Semifinal #2
[2] Utah
[3] Arizona State
Boise State
Southern Utah

AA Individuals
Ariana Castrence – Temple
Skylar Killough-Wilhelm – Washington
Tara Kofmehl – Northern Illinois

Event Individuals
VT – Geneva Thompson, Washington; Deja Chambliss – George Washington; Allie Smith – Washington; Julianna Roland – Temple; Malia Hargrove – Arizona; Amara Cunningham – Washington
UB – Natalie Hamp – Northern Illinois; Geneva Thompson – Washington; Alex Fochler – Bowling Green
BB – Jessica Castles – Arizona; Sirena Linton – Arizona; Zoie Schroeder – Northern Illinois; Anna Kaziska – SEMO
FX -Amara Cunningham – Washington; Faith Leary – Temple; Anna Kaziska – SEMO; Julianna Roland – Temple; Malia Hargrove – Arizona


Thursday play-in
Penn State v. West Virginia

Semifinal #1
[1] Michigan
[4] UCLA
Kent State
Play-In Winner

Semifinal #2
[2] Cal
[3] BYU
Ohio State

AA Individuals
Cassidy Rushlow – Penn State
Hannah Joyner – Rutgers
Belle Huang – Rutgers

Event Individuals
VT – Courtney Mitchell – Lindenwood; Aleah Leman – Lindenwood; Kyndall Baze – Lindenwood; Kylie Gorgenyi – New Hampshire
UB – Ava Verdeflor – Penn State; Alissa Bonsall – Penn State; Katrina Coca – Pitt; Katie Chamberlain – Pitt; Kylie Gorgenyi – New Hampshire
BB – Hayley Lui – New Hampshire; Robyn Kelley – New Hampshire; Alyssa Worthington – New Hampshire; Lauren Beckwith – Pitt
FX – Robyn Kelley – New Hampshire; Melissa Astarita – Penn State; Kendra Combs – West Virginia ; Abbie Pierson – West Virginia; Kiana Lewis – West Virginia


–OK so, item #1, they screwed up the play-ins. Last time we did this in 2019, they sensibly distributed the bottom-8-ranked qualifying teams into the play-in meets. Because it is a punishment. You have to do an extra meet where you might get eliminated. So this punishment should be bestowed upon the weaker teams, so that the regular season…like…matters or something.

This year, however, they did…a bad. They have put #26 NC State in a play-in meet, whereas #29 Kent State does not have to participate in a play-in, despite being one of the bottom-8-ranked advancing to regionals. If I were NC State, I would be royally pissed and getting the NCAA on the horn in 3…2…

–OK so, item #2, the distribution of team quality in each semifinal remains inequitable. By sending the #2, #3, #5, #6-ranked teams into the second semifinal, while #1, #4, #7, #8 are in the first semifinal, you end up bunching 4 of the 6 best teams at each site into the same semifinal, which means it ends up being more advantageous to be the #4 seed than the #3 seed (or even the #2 seed!). It makes no damn sense.

Take a look at the Georgia regional. Illinois (ranked #16) has a wayyyyyy cushier road to advance to the next day than do Minnesota (ranked #8) or Denver (ranked #9). I’d so much rather be Illinois at regionals, which is…not how postseason seedings are supposed to work. It shouldn’t be more advantageous to be ranked #16 than ranked #8.


–Now that’s out of the way, let’s discuss this Group of Death regional semifinal with Alabama/Arkansas/Iowa/Iowa State. We already knew the Alabama/Arkansas semifinal was going to be intense, and now Iowa and Iowa State—ranked 19th and 20th in the country, because it makes sense—have been placed with them. It’s the gymnastics equivalent of a stabbing.

–That Minnesota/Denver/Georgia/Oregon State semifinal is also a peach. Minnesota and Denver really should advance, but it’s in Georgia, so…all bets are off.

–Boise State and Southern Utah is also a tough assignment for the Utah/Arizona State semifinal, but because that Utah group is the softest regional overall, I don’t as much mind some of the best unseeded teams being placed there. Meanwhile, the Cal/BYU semifinal got off easiest of the 2/3 groups with the 27th and 28th teams placed there.

88 thoughts on “2021 Regionals Draw”

    1. I postponed that for a few days, as I am currently occupied by being furious in solidarity (in furious solidarity) with NC State.

      1. Yeah, I posted that before I got to that part of the post. How did they screw that up? I would think that has to be a mistake and they’ll correct it, but you never can know with the NCAA and gymnastics…

  1. Wait a minute, what?! I don’t understand how they can put Kent State ahead of NC State. It must be a mistake, right?

    1. I’m thinking so! Why doesn’t Kent have to participate? I’m getting a glass of wine…no I’m going to save a glass and hook up two straws and put them straight in the bottle…cheers!

  2. Not only is the Cal/BYU semi easy (v #27 & 28), but the other semi in Morgantown (Michigan, UCLA) features #29 Kent State, and PSU/WVU in the play-in. Should be a straightforward ride to the finals for the seeds (if UCLA can stay on BB, I suppose).

    Seems like it would have been easy to switch NC State to Morgantown & Kent State to Athens, but even then it’d be an easier regional for the seeds than the others. I suppose they’re arguing geography. It is further for Kent State, but not a significant difference for NC State, & they’re making lots of other teams travel (Oregon State to Athens & Temple to SLC, for example).

    1. I don’t understand the traveling argument, especially this year. Teams travel for every sport the entire year. Plus, this year attendance is restricted any way. They should just do it based on rankings and throw geography out.

      1. Truth! Why not just have conference meets then have top four go to the floor and duke it out? Or just have regionals and top four duke it out? Even better, top two in nation duke it out. There’s ONLY two teams in super bowl, Stanley cup, etc. Get my drift? All the hustle and bustle is insanity!

    2. In 2018 and 2019, certain teams had to travel cross the nation – FL to Oregon or UCLA to East site for example, including time zone difference(s) – guess NCAA was trying to “tire out” the gymnasts from traveling thus see if they would perform well. Tired or not, the gymnasts still seemed to perform just fine.

      1. Well, if we are using this example, Florida didn’t perform fine in Oregon. But basically, the NCAA is saying it cares how far the unseeded teams have to travel but not the seeded teams.

  3. Same! And, completely accurate description for the Alabama “Group of Death” regional. Yikes!!

  4. I just hope the Georgia regional is nothing like 2 years ago where judging was absolutely ridiculous. Cal was a better team that year. Georgia is a good team, and if Minnesota or Denver has an off day I definitely think they have a shot. However, in post season judges need to separate with amplitude, form, etc. not all y-full vaults are 9.85, not everyone is 180 or completing jumps.

    On a side note, Georgia was posting on Instagram that they were in gym practicing today? Just curious if anyone knows the protocols. How were they able to be in gym, but not compete at SEC’s. Are some of the athletes out longer? I am happy that they will get some practice before regionals, but just curious about protocols in case another team has outbreak.

    1. Contact tracing versus positive tests. I had heard they were mostly impacted by contact tracing issues; thus, there is no long pause or cardiac testing required to return in that situation.

      1. Contact tracing means there should still be a “long pause.” If you come into contact with a positive case, you should have to isolate for 10 days.

      2. Accidently posted my response further downthread. It’s worth noting on my campus the ten day window starts at exposure. So you can be notified late in the window and only run out the ten day from exposure not ten days from notification.

    2. Agreed that judging ACROSS THE BOARD for Regionals should be tighter because the championship meet should be the BEST 4 teams! Too much favoritism and personal feelings involved in judging…judge routines by the book…that’s what the code of points is for!

      1. As long as judging is consistent for all teams in the regional, I’m fine with it. At this point, it’s strictly about winning to advance. High scores or low scores doesn’t matter as long every team is judged consistently within the regional. I mean SLC could go high and if all teams are judged high, then the best two still advance.

    3. Maybe there’s enough people unaffected by the contact tracing to hold a practice, but not enough to field a full team at a competition?

    4. I would assume those with positive tests are still sitting out but the rest of the team/coaches could return. I work at a public university and had to guarantee twice because our campus rules are stricter than the state department of health. Basically was in a room with people with positives for a half hour two different times. Once I got notified two days before the end of the window and literally had a one whole day quarantine…

    5. Crossing all my fingers and toes that Culton will rotate with Georgia and get to partake in their inevitable crack.

      1. Yes, because Georgia is the only team that ever gets overscored . . .

        I mean if Georgia was so crazy overscored I would have expected Vega, Dickson, Cheek, etc all to have had at least one 10 at home.

      2. Of course they’re not! They are, however, the primary beneficiary of overscoring IN ATHENS, GEORGIA.

  5. So do people think it makes more sense to do 1,4,5,6 (bad for 4) and 2,3,7,8? Or is 1,4,5,8 and 2,3,6,7 better? I agree right now it isn’t fair for #3.

    1. 1, 2, 3, 4 is best. Top four should duke it out at regionals, with top two ONLY going to Nationals.

      1. Right, the idea for regionals is seeds 1, 2, 3, 4 would be favored to battle it out to make Nationals. What we are talking about is that there are two days of competition for seeds 1-4 at Regionals, and we’re trying to figure out the best arrangement for Day 1.

    2. They could solve this by having day 1 of regionals be four dual meets, not two quad meets. #1 vs. play-in winner, 2 vs 7, 3 vs 6, 4 vs 5.

      1. But then it’s not head to head. The logistical challenge of an 8-10 hour meet would be significant. That’s really hard on the judges. I can’t imagine trying to separate FTYs for 10 hours.

      2. I realized this and modified below…this is why I support killing the play-in meets and reducing the field to 32. The first round could then take place over two days.

  6. This is the most absurd, rinky dink bracketing ever. Everyone knows you seed 8 teams by ranking, and the sessions should be 1-4-5-8, and 2-3-6-7. They have given a total walkover into the the regional final to the teams ranked 13 thru 16 in the nation, and totally screwed the teams 5 thru 12. Also screwed Iowa, UGA, Boise, etc. Take Iowa. They should have been able to make regional finals by beating Auburn. Now they have to beat Bama or Ark. Denver, Minn, and GA have to compete against each other with one not making regional final, while Illinois can make it by beating CMU and NC State. What a joke. Imagine he last couple weeks of the season next year. A team is ranked 10. their coach will be like I need to sit all my best lineups. We need to drop to #13 or 14 to have a better chance in the NCAAs.

    1. Exactly!

      I like Iowa’s chances to beat Arkansas, but there is no room for error now. Same for Minnesota and Denver — they should qualify, but they can’t have any major mistakes. Georgia is definitely capable of a lowish 197.

    2. Truth! This is a royal shit show! Look at professional teams…how many teams are in the Super Bowl? Two! Same with other professional teams: MLB, NHL, NBA. Hey NCAA, top two teams go to Nationals and be done with it! Guess NCAA trying to give lower ranked teams a shot. Even individual events cannot be from a national ranking team, huh?? Time for NCAA to revise their policy!

      1. Are there only 2 teams in the 400m relay final at the national championships? Gymnastics isn’t a game like those sports are.

      2. Only two teams make the super bowl but 14 make the playoffs. Regionals are the playoffs.

        March madness has 68 teams. MLB has 10 teams in the playoffs. NCAA softball uses a regional/super format with 64 teams (but they also have a lot more teams nationally competing).

        I’m sure there’s probably some championship that just takes the top two ranked teams at the end of the season; however, I can’t think of a single one. There’s always a playoff system that gives lower ranked teams a shot.

      3. Thank you Anon. People complaining about there being 2 teams in the Super Bowl, World Series, etc are really showing they know nothing about other sports.

      4. Yes other sports teams have playoffs. No complaint that two teams play in super bowl, it’s understood what it takes to get there, but NCAA can drop all the meets and simply let the best two teams go to Nationals, then all the huff and puff here would stop. Let the best man win!

      5. The number of teams is about coachs’ bonuses. Make regionals, get a bonus, make semis get a bonus, make nationals get a bonus, make 4 on the floor get a bonus, win championship get a bonus. This is true for all sports – which is why all NCAA sports have play-offs with a big number of teams. It’s part of why bowl games have expanded for MFB. And there is the whole student athlete thing – allowing ( in theory) as many as possible to experience post season – helps with recruitment and student athlete satisfaction. It’s not like pros. Quit trying to equate it to pro play-offs.

  7. For play-ins, shouldn’t it be #29 – #36? Then #29 v.#36, #30 v. #35, etc. In these regionals, Kent State should be a play in as should Towson. Right? And, NC State should not. The #26 team should not be in a play in!!!

    It doesn’t have to be this hard. (or stupid)

    1. Yes 4 bottom ranked teams be play-ins. Stupid is right… something so easy became a cluster f–k!!

    2. Many know about other sports and what playoffs are, how many teams, etc. I don’t think Anon is saying otherwise, just stating an opinion like everyone else on this blog. I agree just have conference championship then top two at Nationals, anything to cut down the amount of meets. People understand other sports you silky folks!

      1. You’d be surprised how many people DONT know about other sports. Take Jessica, for example, who calls them the ‘sportsballs.’

  8. Arkansas and Arizona State have the heart attack semifinals. Both teams showed vulnerability at the conference championships despite both making the evening session for the first time. Boise State can move past a somewhat off ASU. And both Iowa and Iowa State can move past a somewhat off Arkansas.

  9. I just don’t agree with the distribution of the unseeded teams:

    Georgia Regional: 18, 24, 25, 26, 35
    Alabama Regional: 19, 20, 23, 31, 32
    Utah Regional: 17, 21, 22, 30, 34
    West Virginia Regional: 27, 28, 29, 33, 35

    One of these is completely not like the others. Travel can’t justify one regional being so much easier for the seeded teams than the other three.

      1. They travel all year. In normal non-pandemic years, PAC and SEC teams compete against each other without jet lag issues.

      2. Bus lag, for any teams not allowed to fly yet, is a much bigger deal. I know UCLA was taking a bus – are they driving from LA to West Virginia??

      3. There is no way UCLA is bussing to WVU. 68 teams traveled to Indy and San Antonio, respectively. You can easily fly while taking proper precautions.

  10. Cal and BYU will compete super early at 10am Pacific (body clock) and travel across the country to West Virginia. I think that’s why NCAA gave them the easy 27th/28th seed.

    Alabama/Arkansas have the most benefit geographically, so they balance it out by giving them most challenging opponents (Iowa and Iowa State).

    Not saying it’s right, but I think that was the NCAA’s thinking process.

    1. Body clock is right. NCAA thinking “let’s tire these girls out!”

      1. It happened in 2018 and 2019…UCLA traveled east and some east coast team traveled to Oregon.

      2. Wrong.

        Top 16 are seeded accordingly to each regional, which is know in advance.

        The next 20 teams are assigned based on “geography”, which is pointless as it is never geographical.

        They should just seed all the teams 1-36 based on NQS and place them into regionals. Only shifts would be for hosts.

        Region 1 Seeds: 1, 5, 9, 13, 17, 21, 25, (29, 33)
        SF/ 1, 9, 17, 25 and 5, 13, 21, (29, 33)
        Region 2 Seeds: 2, 6, 10, 14, 18, 22, 26, (30, 34)
        SF/ 2, 10, 18, 26 and 6, 14, 22, (30/34)
        Region 3 Seeds: 3, 7, 11, 15, 19, 23, 27, (31, 35)
        SF/ 3, 11, 19, 27 and 7, 15, 23, (31, 35)
        Region 4 Seeds:
        4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, (32, 36)
        SF/ 4, 12, 20, 28 and 8, 16, 24, (32, 36)

        Region 1: Utah (6) ***swapped 5th for 6th seed for host***
        SF: Florida, Denver, Boise State, Central Michigan
        SF: 6 Utah, UCLA, Southern Utah, (Kent State/Penn St)

        Region 2: Georgia (18)
        SF: Oklahoma, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina State
        SF: 5 Cal, Kentucky, Utah State, (Temple/Arizona)

        Region 3: Alabama (7)
        SF: LSU, Arizona State, Iowa, Ohio State
        SF: Alabama, Auburn, Missouri, (Eastern Michigan/Western Michigan)

        Region 4: West Virginia (36)
        SF: Michigan, BYU, Iowa State, Towson
        SF: Minnesota, Illinois, Oregon State, (Maryland/West Virginia)

        To me these seem more balanced and fair.

    2. I think you’re giving the NCAA too much credit. The top 4 are purely based on rankings and the others are randomly assigned with geography sometimes considered.

  11. If I were NC State I would sue. Also I fully believe the UCLA coaches got involved somehow to get such a ridiculously easy regional drawing compared to the other teams. If it was UCLA up vs. Georgia or Iowa I wouldn’t even call them favored to advance.

    1. You need to get some mental help if you believe UCLA coaches were able to influence NCAA to conspire to give them an “easy” bracket.

      1. I don’t know about gymnastics, but in basketball it’s VERY common to engineer the bracket to create matchups that will generate big TV ratings.

      2. Why are you comparing NCAA basketball to NCAA gymnastics to begin with as they are completely separate sports? UCLA did not just “given an easy bracket”. They were a seeded team based on NQS and were always going to be placed with the seeds that were assigned to that regional. 4, 5, 12, 13 were always matched together. If they had been 14 they would be in a different regional completely. There was no engineering of the sort.

        I don’t believe your conspiracy about NCAA basketball match ups in the slightest but there is more leeway in those seedings are not always based on rankings. Unlike gymnastics which uses NQS and counts certain number of home scores and certain number of road scores for an average that all teams use, basketball doesn’t have a common ranking system. There are 4 ranking systems. NET, AP, Top 16 committee, and Coaches Poll. These four are never identical completely. Each poll had Illinois men’s team in a different spot in their particular ranking. 3rd, 5th, 2nd, 2nd was their ranking in each of the four systems. Gymnastics doesn’t do this.

  12. Here is my reworked Regionals assignments for the #17-36 teams. I think this is much better. It sends some teams a greater distance, but the selection committee was willing to send Oregon State to Georgia and Temple to Utah, so it’s always going to have to feature some teams unfairly traveling too far. This also fixes the ridiculous NC State mistake and makes the play-ins based on ranking pairs.

    Georgia: UGA (18), CMU (25), NC State (26)
    Play-in..UMD (32), PSU (33)

    Alabama: Iowa (19), Utah St (22), Towson (28)
    Play-in..Temple (30), WMU (35)

    Utah: Boise St (17), Southern UT (21), Oregon St (24)
    Play-in..EMU (31), AZ (34)

    West Virginia: Iowa St (20), Missouri (23), Ohio St (27)
    Play-in.. Kent St (29), WVU (35)

  13. When did the old system (6 regional competitions with 6 teams per regional) get put into place? That was the system when I started following NCAA circa 2002-ish. A whole bunch of programs have shuttered since then. I know coaches will cry foul at reducing the field to 32, but it seems warranted given that there are fewer teams now.

    With a field of 32, you could have much cleaner seeding in each regional. On what was formerly the play-in day, you could have 1/8 and 2/7 square off in dual meets. Day two could be 3/6 and 4/5. And then day 3 would be a quad meet final with the top two teams advancing.

    Dual meets would also be MUCH more exciting with higher stakes.

    1. In 1982 there were 5 regionals with the top two in each region advancing to Nationals where there were 10 teams that competed in two sessions of 5 in both morning and evening sessions, with a bye round in each session (5 rotations). At the end of both sessions the winner was announced.

      In 1987, due to increased number of schools participating, they expanded the regions to 6 with the top two from each region advancing to Nationals. Now the two sessions expanded to include 6 teams in each session. The winner always came from the evening session with the exception of 1 time.

      It was argued (UCLA and Georgia) that a bad regional seeding placed you in the morning session and was unfair to top ranked teams who made an error at regionals to drop them down the rankings in terms of seeding.

      In 1988, UCLA held the number 1 ranking all year, were undefeated, and dominated Pac 10s to win the conference. They made major errors at regionals but still qualified to Nationals. They were ranked as the 7th seed due to their regionals score. They were placed into the morning session and ended up losing to Utah by a little over 1 point.

      Finally, the coaches voted to move into a Super Six final so that if you won the morning session you still had a chance to win the team title. It also allowed for a team to have an error or two at regionals and not cost them by being a low seed. The new format began in 1993 and continued until 2018.

  14. So unfair to NC State! These girls are 26th and should not have to play in! Who did State tick off? They already got treated unfairly at EAGLs by competing in the early session even though they won conference and now this?! NCAA owes them an explanation! These women deserve better!!

    1. The EAGL format was weird as hell, but surely the member schools agreed to it? It’s not like the EAGL is a multi-sport mega-conference like the SEC or B1G with random administrators who know nothing about gymnastics pulling the strings — it’s a gymnastics-only conference.

  15. NC State should sue!! Guess it’s not bout results anymore. Thanks NCAA for continuing to treat women unfairly.

    1. Sue for what exactly? They definitely got screwed, but there is nothing to that would amount to a legal case.

  16. It feels as if UCLA is being set up to advance, perhaps because the NCAA wants to capitalize on all the viral floor routine press…

    1. There is no set up.
      Regional seedings were known way ahead of the season.
      The unseeded teams are assigned by geography.
      Once you get down the list of unseeded teams, regions end up filling up and then you have the odd team that gets assigned a random regional. IE- Temple.

      Using geography for regionals is outdated and needs to be eliminated. Just go by rankings with some shifts to accommodate host teams that qualify to regionals.

      1. Using geography makes sense when teams are relatively evenly dispersed geographically, which they aren’t and likely never will be, so I agree they need to rank/seed everyone and send them to locations based on their rank (other than hosts), geography be damned.

    2. UCLA had no say in the matter. The top 4 seeds in each regional were based on rankings — which comes directly from scores and not coaches/journalists ranking teams like in football and basketball. I mean did they get a somewhat lucky draw? Yes. But that happens to a few teams every year. Also, let’s be real — Alabama and Cal have looked great late in the season and BYU is capable of low 197 scores. UCLA has had trouble hitting the 197 mark this year and have been very inconsistent. Their place at nationals is in no way secured and I actually think Bama and Cal will advance — depending on Cal’s VT and FX.

  17. Here’s my issue with all of this (and bear with me, because this is gonna be long-winded).

    When they changed the postseason format (which is a HUGE net positive over the old system IMO), its architects clearly were trying to overlay the March Madness framework on gymnastics. And with good reason — the basketball tournament is wildly popular, even with non-sports fans. But there are a lot of fundamental differences between basketball and gymnastics that the organizers overlooked. If they want to capture the best elements of March Madness and apply them to gymnastics, they need to make some changes that would require shrinking the field to 32 or even 16.

    1. Everyone loves upsets (well, except the team and fanbase on the losing end of one). Upsets are a huge part of March Madness, while NCAA gymnastics goes out of its way to prevent them from happening. The lack of defense in gymnastics, combined with dropping a score and the quad meet format, means that a top team has to completely implode AND the lower-ranked team has to compete lights-out for there to even be a chance of an upset. The bottom half of the field in the gymnastics postseason has much less reason to be hopeful than the bottom half of the field in the basketball postseason (just look at how many double-digit seeds advanced out of the first weekend of basketball). There’s not much that can be done to replicate the excitement and upset potential of March Madness, but the one thing that could be done is having dual meets instead of quad meets wherever possible.

    2. Gymnastics is, I’d argue, harder on the body than basketball, and yet you don’t see teams in the NCAA basketball tournament have to play three games in three days — not even the four play-in teams. In the individual conference tournaments, sure — and they generally look like shit on the last day. The current format sets up the gymnastics play-in teams to fail, which begs the question of why we bother in the first place. The answer, of course, is that the previous system had 36 teams and everyone is afraid of taking postseason slots away, but…they shouldn’t be.

    According to Google, there were 353 Division I men’s basketball programs in 2020-2021. 68 of them make the tournament, or less than 20 percent. Comparatively, more than half of Division I gymnastics teams — and close to half of ALL college gymnastics teams — make the postseason tournament. Shrinking the gymnastics postseason format to 32 teams is more than appropriate, and I’d even be fine with shrinking it to 24 or 16. This would also help reduce the stigma of “not making regionals” that hounds lower-ranked teams — if making regionals is a true privilege, not making it isn’t seen as a failure. And if you shrink the field you have the ability to do more rational seeding and siting and replace quad meets with dual meets, at least for the first day. I’d also be supportive of a “guaranteed bid” system that permits conference championship winners to automatically make the tournament, as is the case in basketball. The problem with the current system is that the powers that be wanted a four-team final (appropriate!) but instead of starting with a clean slate they tried to retrofit the existing 36-team system. Creating the mess we have now.

    1. I’ll add one more thing…a “guaranteed bid” system for conference champions could help save programs from elimination. If the regionals field is reduced but conference champions get an automatic berth, ANY team could theoretically make the post-season with one good day (much like in basketball). Whereas a program that’s perceived by the school’s AD as having little to no chance of ever being competitive has a much greater chance of being cut.

      1. You fix that with the guaranteed bid for conference championship winners…if the conference champion automatically advances to even a 16-team regional, at least one EAGL team will always make it even if the top EAGL team is ranked, let’s say, 30th. Same goes for the Ivys, etc. The March Madness field isn’t composed of the top 68 teams in the country — it’s a mix of top-ranked teams and lower-ranked teams that represent the best of their individual conference.

        There’s already no parity in college gymnastics. The current postseason format is a bloated mess that, in the end, does nothing to help the parity problem. How many other college sports have such a large percentage of teams make the postseason tournament? Unfortunately, going forward we’re more likely to lose programs than gain new ones — at what point does the 36-team format become downright comical?

        May as well get creative. If every Ivy team, for example, knew at the beginning of each season that they had a 1 in 4 chance of making the postseason, that’s a pretty powerful thing.

    2. Except those lower ranked teams would never contend for the top 16 or potentially 24 and would make it less appealing to recruits, forever keeping the tope teams the same for rest of time. The teams in those lower ranks don’t consider not making regionals as a failure. They consider it a privilege to compete there and that is what many teams place their team goal on. Some teams have been competing for 40 years and have never made nationals and may not ever with finalists shrinking from 12 to 8.

      There are elite gymnasts who know they will not make it to the Olympics but just qualifying to compete at the Trials is a major deal.

      Basketball cannot be compared to gymnastics as they are completely separate sports. One is 99% of the time objective, the other is 100% subjective. Basketball is easier than gymnastics. If someone is injured there are other teammates that can pop in. In gymnastics it is more specialized with specific events. Basketball itself is collaborative and cooperative. In order to score points the teammates on the floor have to work together. Gymnastics is an individual sport which creates a team by combining scores of individuals.

      1. I am sorry, conference winners auto-qualifying to the 16 finalists is ridiculous.

        Did you realize there are 13 conferences when all teams are competing non-Covid? That leaves only room for 3 other teams in a 16 team regional set up.

        Using your criteria means that the only three teams to qualify outside of conference championships are:
        #1 Florida, #2 Oklahoma, #3 LSU

        Utah #6, Bama #7, Minnesota #8, Denver #9 all get in due to go due to conference wins respectively.

        Also IN due to conference win are/would be:
        BYU #12 (MRGC)
        Temple #30 (EAGL)
        Eastern Michigan #31 (MAC)
        Lindenwood #44 (MIC)
        San Jose State #51 (MPSF)
        William and Mary #56 (ECAC-1)
        ECAC-2 = Not contested
        NCGA East= Not contested
        WIAC= Not contested

        Michigan #4, Cal #5, Arkansas #10, ASU #11, UCLA #13, Kentucky #14, Auburn #15, Illinois #16, BSU #17, Georgia #18, Iowa #19, Iowa State #20, Teams: 21-29, 32-36.

        No way is Lindenwood knocking out a Florida or Utah. So essentially in your scenario the conference champion of the big 4 plus the top 3 teams are making it straight to nationals. MRGC always has their teams in the top 30 so BYU is in as well. No sense to even hold regionals if that is the case.

        There is PLENTY of parity in NCAA gymnastics. Just recently in 2016, Florida failed to advance to nationals and they were 4th ranked nationally and a #1 seed at regionals.
        This year Georgia is unseeded but has a legitimate chance to not only make it to the regional super final, but also potentially place in the top two to Nationals currently ranked #18. Same goes for Boise State, Iowa, Iowa State who could all knock out a seeded team.
        The fact that Denver upset Oklahoma, Minnesota upset Michigan, and Alabama upset both Florida and LSU at the conference championships shows that there is parity even at the top tier of schools. None of the current top 5 won their conference championships!
        To go down even further in the list Temple was an upset winner in EAGL, Eastern Michigan beat out favored Central Michigan and Kent State.

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