National Semifinal Preview

Two days until the semifinals. In an effort to concoct a preview that isn’t just, “These are the top-ranked teams, but hey if someone falls…” I’m going to break down the semifinals by rotation and look at each team’s event NQSs from the season for that rotation—as well as the scores on each of those events from regional finals—to see what they tell us about who needs to be where at which point in the competition.

Starting with Semifinal I – Florida, Michigan, Cal, Minnesota

Rotation 1

Minnesota VT, Florida UB, Michigan BB, Cal FX
NQS Standings
Michigan – 49.488
Florida – 49.475
Cal – 49.475
Minnesota – 49.381

The first semifinal presents a slightly weird start in that NQS predicts Michigan to have a lead after its beam rotation. Obviously, Michigan would love to be leading and already done with beam, but I don’t think that’s a requirement to have a successful day. In fact, if we use Michigan’s 49.300 on beam from the regional final, Michigan would be trailing at this point. And that regional final ended up going pretty well.

Regional Final Standings
Cal – 49.500
Florida – 49.475
Minnesota – 49.450
Michigan – 49.300

I’d say it’s most important for Cal to start big on floor and at least be right with Florida and Michigan, if not slightly ahead. Floor is Cal’s 2nd-best score, and I’d say Cal is the only team starting on a top-2 event for them, so any kind of deficit after 1 would not be helpful in the upset quest. Because vault tends to score a little lower, Minnesota would be quite pleased if things were shaping up similarly to the regional final standings after the first rotation.

Rotation 2

Cal VT, Minnesota UB, Florida BB, Michigan FX
NQS Standings
Florida – 99.131
Michigan – 98.894
Cal – 98.781
Minnesota – 98.781

These first two rotations will be decisive for Michigan’s chances because when things have gone wrong this season, it’s happened on floor. Big Tens, Big Fives, that bonkers dual meet with Minnesota. It’s always floor. Even so, NQS says Michigan should be top 2 right now, and regional finals scores say Michigan should be close to that status.

Because vault and bars are typically tremendous for Michigan, if Michigan is actually done with beam and floor in a top-2 position, I’d expect that to be maintained through the end of the meet. It would be a very strong scenario for them.

Regional Final Standings
Florida – 98.925
Cal – 98.875
Michigan – 98.850
Minnesota – 98.775

Florida is expected to use beam to start creating an advantage in the second rotation since that beam score is usually so high. Both sets of standings have Florida leading after completing bars and beam, which once again, if you’re done with the (typically) scarier events and still in a top-2 spot, things look good. Though watch the margins. Cal and Minnesota both finish on a pair of stronger-scoring events for them than they start, so their pace should increase as the meet goes on. That’s why, if I’m Cal and Minnesota, I’m not exactly panicking about not being in the top 2 at this point, but then again if we look at NQS, 0.350 is a lot to try to gain on Florida at any point in a meet. So maybe I’m panicking a little.

Rotation 3

Michigan VT, Cal UB, Minnesota BB, Florida FX
NQS Standings
Florida – 148.675
Michigan – 148.525
Cal – 148.387
Minnesota – 148.244

The third rotation presents a critical moment for Cal’s upset chances because Cal will be on bars—the event where they’re ranked #1 and would typically expect to zoom up the rankings. The problem for them is that Michigan is also ranked #1 on vault (with a higher NQS there) and Florida is ranked #1 on floor. This is the rotation of world-beating events, which could blunt Cal’s chances to make a big upset push with bars.

If Cal is, in fact, a few tenths back after rotation 3—and Minnesota a little bit behind that—then this thing will be heading a very specific direction that will be tough to avert, even if Florida has another incident on vault.

Regional Final Standings
Florida – 148.475
Michigan – 148.375
Cal – 148.300
Minnesota – 148.275

In the regional final standings, Cal and Minnesota also sit slightly behind, but it’s closer than NQS predicts, a margin that’s maybe just enough to take advantage of an error, even though Cal and Minnesota don’t necessarily go to the hugest scores to end the day. Basically, they need to be closer at this point than NQS says.

Rotation 4

Florida VT, Michigan UB, Cal BB, Minnesota FX
NQS Standings
Florida – 198.163
Michigan – 198.019
Cal – 197.781
Minnesota – 197.688

The cumulative event NQSs show Florida and Michigan much closer to each other than they are to Cal and Minnesota, reinforcing the base expectation that Cal and Minnesota probably need something to go wrong for one of the top 2 teams in order to advance. That doesn’t even have to be a counting fall, but something a little wrong.

Regional Final Standings
Michigan – 198.100
Cal – 197.750
Florida – 197.700
Minnesota – 197.425

And we’ve seen it happen. Florida and Minnesota’s scores drop off here in the regional final standings because Florida ends on vault and Minnesota ends on floor and both teams botched those events at regionals. Though you wouldn’t really bet on mistakes like that repeating, which is why Cal and Minnesota need to be above those NQS expectations at the end of rotation 3 to have a good shot.


Next, we’re on to Semifinal II – Oklahoma, LSU, Utah, Alabama

Rotation 1

Alabama VT, Oklahoma UB, Utah BB, LSU FX
NQS Standings
Utah – 49.588
LSU – 49.513
Oklahoma – 49.488
Alabama – 49.388

The first rotation presents some serious tasks for Utah and LSU. Unlike in the first semifinal, where most of the teams are starting on maybe-medium events and no one is on the big strength, Utah starts on what is absolutely its best event, and floor is somewhat similar for LSU—though you can also make the argument for vault being LSU’s strongest.

So it will be especially critical for Utah to have an advantage after the first rotation if a repeat of the regional victory over LSU is in order because there won’t be another opportunity like this.

What NQS also tells us is that Oklahoma, and to a lesser extent Alabama, won’t mind not being in first or not being near the top at the very beginning of the meet. Both Utah and LSU start big and then finish on question marks, so there will be room to gain ground later.

Regional Final Standings
Utah – 49.600
Oklahoma – 49.575
LSU – 49.475
Alabama – 49.375

Oklahoma would be quite pleased with 2nd place after the first rotation as the regional final scores predict. Really no team would be panicking after the first rotation with those standings, though this would put a little more pressure on LSU’s vault to be huge.

Rotation 2

LSU VT, Alabama UB, Oklahoma BB, Utah FX
NQS Standings
LSU – 99.113
Oklahoma – 99.094
Utah – 99.088
Alabama – 98.776

Allegedly, the 99s will be flying after the 2nd rotation. If it happens, that would start to cause a problem for Alabama because even though Alabama should score better at the end of the meet, the deficit that NQS indicates is probably too large to overcome against teams this good.

Alabama would really need to be nestled in the position regional final scores indicate after two rotations.

Regional Final Standings
Utah – 99.225
Oklahoma – 99.150
Alabama – 99.000
LSU – 98.950

These scores would be out of control, with nearly-a-99 in last place, but you could see it. In actuality, these teams don’t necessarily have to be scoring this high right now, but then again I’d say Utah does need to be in the 99s after two events. Based on what we’ve seen this season, Utah’s scores are going to fall off in the second half of the meet, going to vault and bars (even in the regional final, when Utah got a big bars score, it was still clearly lower than the numbers for beam and floor). So a 3rd- or 4th-place position for Utah at this point would be pretty tough to overcome.

Rotation 3

Utah VT, LSU UB, Alabama BB, Oklahoma FX
NQS Standings
LSU – 148.569
Oklahoma – 148.569
Utah – 148.444
Alabama – 148.232

Event NQS tells us that LSU should advance from this semifinal, while the regional final scores tell us that LSU is going to fall to Utah, so the difference in LSU’s score between the NQS standings and the regional standings after three events should be a key indicator. 148.5+ and a tie with Oklahoma looks really nice. 148.225, not so much.

Regional Final Standings
Oklahoma – 148.725
Utah – 148.450
LSU – 148.225
Alabama – 148.150

If LSU is actually right with Oklahoma after three events as NQS tells us, it would take a real miss in the final rotation to give up a spot.

Though another factor in the second set of standings is that everyone except Oklahoma is on an event that they effed up at the regional finals. They’ll all fancy their chances with a non-bad.

Rotation 4

Oklahoma VT, Utah UB, LSU BB, Alabama FX
NQS Standings
Oklahoma – 198.125
LSU – 198.013
Utah – 197.738
Alabama – 197.632

In nearly identical fashion to the first semifinal, NQS tells that that the race to make the team final shouldn’t be all that close, and that the top-2 teams are closer to each other than they are to the challenging duo.

And just like the first semifinal, the scores from the regional final tell a different story, where Utah outscored LSU.

Regional Final Standings
Oklahoma – 198.175
Utah – 197.925
LSU – 197.750
Alabama – 197.575

This last rotation should be fascinating since bars has been Utah’s low score all season, and beam sure didn’t go great for LSU at regionals. Both teams will be fighting not to drop out of contention with a dumpy score at the very end, while Alabama tries to take advantage of end-of-meet floor. Though I would also imagine it could be a benefit to LSU and Utah teams to end on those question-mark events, when the scoring is more likely to have switched over into AHHHHHHH territory.

52 thoughts on “National Semifinal Preview”

    1. Awesome preview, definitely good for thought…what a smorgasbord of what could happen with a side of hope and a dash of prayer 🙂 It will be an exciting semi-final and final for sure. The good Lord knows the outcome, athletes and fans just have to go through the process. Good luck to all!!!

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      1. Certainly I meant food for thought, but it’s all good too 🙂 Who will control their meet nerves? Who will try too hard? Who will not try hard enough? Our questions will be answered!

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      1. All the typical, uppity gymternet types have the first semi-final teams as their preferred finalists. They annoint certain teams as in the club and certain teams not. ugh

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  1. Seriously looking forward to seeing how this all plays out… I feel like almost every team has had some freak meets (good and bad) or inconsistencies this season, so it will be really interesting to see who manages to keep it together and who lets themselves down with a weird vault baulk or beam fall. Particularly in the first session, I feel like anything could happen.

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  2. Super excited for the LSU-Utah “matchup” in the second semifinal – there’s been so much yelling all season, both reasonable and unreasonable, about how the former is overscored and the latter is underscored so it’ll be great to see them go head-to-head under same judges again.

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      1. really don’t understand the hate for a team that has never won. Alabama, Oklahoma, and Florida I get. But…LSU has literally never won nationals.

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  3. I really like the Utah team this year. They just seem to be a lowkey, no drama, no ego team and I really like that. I’m pulling for them this year as well as Michigan.

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    1. Would really love to see Utah in the final four but just don’t know that this is their year. They have not put all 4 events together in one meet this year. One rotation is always sub par. They would really have to be on fire and kind of come out of nowhere.

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      1. Utah’s vault makes me nervous. Now, if Skinner actually comes back next year and they get the freshman they are supposed to next year — watch out. Utah will be loaded and experienced in 2022.

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    1. Nope. I actually think Baumann deserved to qualify on beam, but the beam judges in that first session would not give anyone over a 9.9. Her routine was beautiful.

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    1. Ew no way. I hope Blahtah doesn’t make Four on the Floor. It’s not a balance beam championship and they just don’t have the bars and not really the vaults to be a champion team.

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      1. I’d take Utah over LSU any day. LSU looked horrendous in regionals and honestly I don’t know how they got the scores they got the whole season.

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      2. Well aren’t you a real gem. If you have to say disparaging things like that, just leave. No one wants you here.

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      3. honestly I don’t like LSU, OU, or Bama, so I really hope Utah makes the final and maybe LSU too

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      4. Yeah, I also don’t like LSU, OU, or Alabama this year. What’s sad is that I used to like all three teams before this year. OU was my favourite team a few years ago, but this year they are overmarked. Therefore, I will be cheering for Utah in the second semifinal (who I used to really not like, but this year I have been enjoying). I’m not sure who I even want as the second team. I wish none of the above was an option. I may still root for OU out of old time’s sake and because I do still like many individual gymnasts like Davis. But only if they are getting scored fairly. I am a little afraid they will get overmarked in the finals and if that’s the case, I don’t even want to see them there.

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  4. Guys good news if you don’t follow gymnasts on instagram closely: Trinity Thomas is practicing vault in podium training!

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    1. Any news on beam and floor? Having her on vault will definitely help. Florida needs her on that event.

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    2. Thomas is doing the AA at Nationals. Rowland confirmed this already that is why she was limited at SEC and regionals. They were saving/resting her for Nationals.

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      1. I can’t express how happy that makes me:) finally she has the chance to win a national all around title

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  5. I am sad that Georgia does not have a single girl competing. I am sorry but this is a new low. Has this ever happened? At least Jay & Danna had several All Americans and I think had individual National champions. A week of nationals and no Georgia.

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    1. Had Oakley not had a step backward on her gainer dismount, she would have won it for UGA at regionals thus putting Denver out. Oakley however got UGA to Nationals in 2018 so that’s a good thing. She knows she lost this year’s regionals for the team. Love her though!!

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      1. Yes, but isn’t this the story of Georgia. If they did this or that then they would have won or made it to nationals. They were nearly last in SEC and won only 2 meets and they were home.

        I am very excited for teams that made it to nationals. A very good mix and really feel like all of these teams deserve to be there. Should be exciting for sure.

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    2. Why are there always these comments about Georgia? They didn’t make nationals with a depleted roster — it’s no surprise. Alabama didn’t make it 2019. Georgia and UCLA are out this

      People seem to take joy in Georgia’s bad year, yet no one says anything negative on this site about UCLA. The hate for Georgia is really weird. Maybe it’s the same anonymous people all the time, but there have been random Georgia comments all year. They want to crucify Kupets for not being a top team. Yet, Waller and UCLA get a pass.

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      1. I think there’s plenty of comments about UCLA, but it’s true that someone who regularly comments here REALLY has it out for Kupets.

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      2. I think they are more focused on Georgia because they don’t even have individuals but UCLA has 3. I love both teams, it just wasn’t their year.

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      3. The difference is UCLA had a down year, the previous years they were strong. Georgia would most likely have not made nationals last year either . UCLA also has a boat load of good recruits coming in., and Georgia just does not. There are plenty of UCLA fans that will probably be upset if they continue to not make nationals with the talent they have. Just look at stats and recruits of both programs and tell me which one you see making nationals each year and being a contender. Also, people were hounding on Alabama and look they won SEC’s.

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  6. How can one watch four squares at the same time on their TV screen? Seriously!?! Impossible. Why can’t NCAA just have a final with ONLY top two teams? Would be easier to watch on TV too. I already have a dizzy headache just thinking about the four on the floor, simply not fair to fans. Pumped for all meet results.

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    1. I would hate two teams only. Four teams gives more teams a chance. I’m hoping the parity we saw this year will continue. I hate that only 6 teams have ever won.

      The Olympic finals are 8 teams and that works fine too. Although, I prefer 4 teams with the PAC 12 championship format of one at a time!

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    2. I think the best solution is to have two streams available for the finals, I think this is the way they are this year. One stream would be Olympic-channel-like, so showing the most interesting routines and explaining the standings for people who prefer this format or any casual fans. And the second one is the quad box. I’ve started watching college gymnastics this year and it was quite hard at first to watch the regionals… But now I figured out how to watch most efficiently and prefer the quad, because I can follow the scoreboard and get the sense of how the meet is going. I don’t think a two team final would be good, since as we all know “there’s no defense in gymnastics” so limiting final to two would be pretty boring. I’ll admit that the 6 teams meet had to go, it was just too hard to understand for a fan with the byes and all that. But right now with four teams and 6 gymnasts per event it’s quite similar to the olympic/worlds finals where we have 4 events and 6 gymnasts per event (3+3 from two countries).

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    1. He doesn’t usually do that, but in his “what even is this season?” article just posted, he gave a hint at what that might look like: Florida is the favorite if Thomas is able to do all four, with Oklahoma very close, and Michigan a legitimate, believable spoiler, but that’s about the extent of it.

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  7. How many teams would be where they’re at had it not been for same-conference regular season? As we know under normal circumstances including non-covid, teams compete outside their respective conferences. Would OU and FL be in a different position if they had to compete against each other like they normally do??

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    1. Not really, only scores matter in the rankings. While in the SEC judges tend to give higher scores, that one or two meets with other teams wouldn’t have mattered that much. And of course every team that was expected made regionals, in nationals and the final rankings the regular season doesn’t count.

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  8. to: Anonymous
    APRIL 16, 2021 AT 10:27 AM
    probably because they should not even have made it to nationals and their fanbase in particular ruins them for me

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