IT’S CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON KIND OF.
Sure, the conference championships tend to mean more to the teams themselves and school-specific sports supporters than they do to gymnastics people (so…you were the best team…in a small, vaguely geographically based collection of…other teams? Hoorrrrray?) but we’ll take it. We’ll take it to the bank. Non-mattering-meet exhaustion has more than set in at this point. This time it kind of matters!
So, let’s try to get the excitement flowing with a little preview.
Afternoon session – 1:00pm PT
Evening session – 6:00pm PT
For the win
Ever since Utah joined the Pac-12, the conversation heading into the conference championship has been pretty similar. Utah versus UCLA, where UCLA has the talent and the scoring pedigree but is also kind of a garbage barge sometimes and might not bring it on the day to make things as close as they should be.
(And then we also respectfully allow for the possibility of the semi-occasional Oregon State “SUP MONKEYS” showing, which is likely out the window this season with OSU in the first session.)
This year, the overall shape of the meet is the same but the internal title dynamic has shifted by minor degrees. In 2018, UCLA ranks ahead of Utah by three tenths in overall RQS, as well as on all four events, and hasn’t displayed quite the same tendency toward CLANG every third meet that we typically expect from this team. For the first time since 2012, UCLA is making a legitimate argument as a top-3 team and a first-tier national title contender, all of which combines to mean that UCLA is supposed to win this meet.
Is it for real, though? Is UCLA really top-3 good? Or, is that ranking just a function of reputation-scoring and a few really excellent routines that paper over some other weaknesses that do not befit a national title winner? That’s a legitimate, still-unanswered question, and one that will be answered with a little more fervor one way or the other after this championship. If the Bruins are to be first-tier title contenders heading toward St. Louis, they’ll need to win this meet and show that they’re clearly superior to another high-level Super Six contender in Utah (in front of the same judging panel, neither at home). Otherwise, this is just another 2017 with 2017-level expectations. Continue reading Pac-12 Championship Preview