Regionals Live Blog Day 1 – Play-Ins

Thursday, April 1
Scores Stream
3:00pm ET/12:00pm PT – Georgia Play-in
[26] NC State vs. [35] Western Michigan
3:00pm ET/12:00pm PT – West Virginia Play-in
[33] Penn State vs. [35] West Virginia
4:00pm ET/1:00pm PT – Alabama Play-in
[31] Eastern Michigan vs. [32] Maryland
5:00pm ET/2:00pm PT – Utah Play-in
[30] Temple vs. [34] Arizona Temple withdraws

So here we are. The first day of elimination meets in the 2021 season, where we find out who…gets to put a postseason victory on their record before getting eliminated tomorrow.

The first batch of meets will be NC State/WMU and Penn St/West Virginia. The NC State/Western meet looks like it has two different stream options, an ESPN3 link and a Georgia streaming link. I put the Georgia streaming link in here because sometimes WatchESPN gets pissy if you have too many streams open because they think you’re sharing a password or something. So having a Georgia streaming link might help in a sort of triage situation.

NC State is probably the biggest favorite in any of the play-ins—because they shouldn’t have had to participate in these meets in the first place—having gone 196 in five of the last six meets, while Western Michigan has been stuck in the 194s at the last three competitions. It would be a big surprise if Western gets through this one.

The one I’m most eager to see is Penn State/West Virginia. Penn State is ranked better but has also been stuck in the mid-195s most of the year because of vault and floor struggles. The team finally got those events to a better scoring place at Big Tens, only to count a mistake on beam for a 195.4. If they put it all together, we could see a 196. But then we have West Virginia, the home team, finally starting to turn it on in the last couple meets of the season to get the scores required to make regionals at all. West Virginia’s 195.7 from Big 12s also included a counting mistake on beam, better than Penn State’s score for a similar kind of meet.

Eastern Michigan and Maryland start an hour later and are ranked basically identically. Maryland probably has the higher scoring potential but is also missing several important injured athletes, which we’ve seen manifest in some declining bars and beam scores the last couple weeks. Both teams struggled on beam at conference championships (a theme!), but it will be especially important for EMU to hit a secure beam rotation to undermine the advantage Maryland should have on other pieces, particularly vault, where we’ve seen some higher 9.8s for Maryland’s Yfulls.

In an surprise, Temple comes into the meet against Arizona as a numerical favorite after that massive 196.500 from the conference championship. Until the month of March, Temple was a 194 team, so the question is whether this sudden and dramatic upswing can be maintained against a team with a few more expected 9.850-9.900 scores. And whether Arizona can bring the security in the Yfulls and the middle bars lineup to stay in this thing early and then hand it to people like Jessica Castles on the final events.

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