With the bulk of conference championships not until Saturday, I wanted to do some sort of score comparison for the teams in the evening sessions of the three biggest competitions to illustrate strengths and weaknesses and what to expect tomorrow. Anyway, it turned out to be boring and pointless (how’s that for self promotion!) because there’s a single team in each one that has largely dominated the rankings and enters as a heavy numerical favorite, even if the actual circumstances should be more interesting that that.
So, um, here:
Starting with the SEC Championship, with check marks for the team whose scores lead the group each category.
It’s sort of unusual to have a team that’s this consistently ahead of the other teams in the SEC during the season, but that has been the case for Florida this year, at least until the last couple meets. But the SEC doesn’t really do “non-controversial,” and prognostications of a close meet are buoyed by those recent check marks. Both LSU and Alabama have started to come on strong, with LSU earning the highest score of the bunch in the most recent meet and Alabama ranking second in the conference over the last three meets despite coming in as the #4 seed.
Also of note, even though LSU ranks second in the conference in overall NQS, the NQSs of each individual athlete in the prospective lineups for each team put Auburn in second and LSU in third. Which is basically the “if everyone hits” rankings.
Florida enters as the favorite, but you can construct any of the other teams as second favorite depending on…who you want to be the second favorite.
As for the Big Ten:
Beam questions are the one thing that haunts Michigan (and Minnesota), as Michigan State has their number in every single beam category. So if there’s a place that will undo the expected order of things at Big Tens. Minnesota is hard done by with only the one check mark in a tie with Michigan, but that largely reflects a season where Minnesota has displayed similar strengths and weaknesses to Michigan, just a skosh behind in each respect.
As for the Pac-12, Utah enjoys most of the prime real estate:
Like LSU in the SEC, it’s Cal that takes the recency advantage after that big score in the home finale that outpaced what Utah produced against LSU. We also see Oregon State popping in there on beam, perhaps a surprise because Utah is the #1-ranked beam team in the country, but that’s very much a function of NQS. Utah has put up five huge beam meets this season but has countered that with four weak ones, most of which were on the road, so Utah’s road beam numbers are not all that strong.
(And then there’s the issue of whether we should even treat this as a road meet for Utah because…does it count as a road meet if it’s 11 seconds away? But that’s what it is.)
For those curious, if we add UCLA to the mix, UCLA would get one check mark, for last meet vault score instead of Utah.