Regional Championships Selection

It’s all set now. With (a little too) much house music and bugle interludes, the NCAA has announced which teams have been sorted into which regionals. The setup is the one I listed as Option #4 yesterday based on my reading of the rules, but I’m more than OK with it because I think it’s a pretty sane decision and among the more logical of the four placement possibilities. Georgia was moved one spot while Minnesota was moved two, which makes sense since Georgia is the higher ranked team, and the teams that were affected by the two-spot Minnesota move were each adjusted downward one spot rather than “exchanged,” which is more fair overall.

Weirdly, I’m actually happy with what the committee came up with and think it was the right call given the rankings and hosts. That’s out of character, so I’ll let you know when I have something to complain about. It will happen in time.

I am disappointed that there weren’t any really terrible pronunciations coming from our selection show host this year to add to the pantheon of Georgia Burritz (a burrito that doesn’t wear grips?) and Lymeenis Hall (just…no). He did say Danuzza Francis, but that’s not even that bad.

HERE WE GO.

EVENING SEMIFINAL GROUPS:

IOWA (5:00 ET/2:00 PT)
Oklahoma
Nebraska
Arkansas
Iowa
Kent State
Central Michigan

Just three AAers join this section because there were only three ranked AAers in this region that weren’t already going with a team. That’s why there’s an extra individual event specialist on each event.

AA: Corbett, Western Michigan; Hood, Western Michigan; White, Centenary
VT: Christian, Ball State; Buis, Western Michigan; Ebeyer, Ball State
UB: Penny, Ball State, Peszek, Western Michigan; Juncaj, Western Michigan
BB: Underwood, Western Michigan; Peszek, Western Michigan; Bell, Ball State
FX: Christian, Ball State; Underwood, Western Michigan, Ebeyer, Ball State

Should be an exciting race for that second spot because Nebraska and Arkansas have displayed very similar scoring potential this year, with Arkansas more consistent but with Nebraska probably having the higher peak on a great day. Wouldn’t want to pick it. Plus, there’s Iowa as a host, having scored mid-196s often at home this season. Shouldn’t be more than a few tenths separating those three.

UTAH (8:00 ET/5:00 PT)
Utah
UCLA
Washington
Southern Utah
Illinois
Utah State

AA: McCartney, Sacramento State; Rice, Sacramento State; Hundley, Seattle Pacific; Matsunami, Alaska
VT: Konner, Sacramento State; Nogaki, Davis
UB: Brown, Davis; Benning, Sacramento State
BB: Stamates, Davis; Nogaki, Davis
FX: Stamates, Davis; Benning, Sacramento State

Utah and UCLA will be expected to come through this regional given hit meets, but Washington and Southern Utah are both mid-196 capable groups, and Illinois is still Illinois in spite of being so depleted. Utah has two losses to UCLA already this year. The fans will be aware of this.

ALABAMA (5:00 ET/2:00 PT)
Alabama
Cal
Boise State
Kentucky
West Virginia
Bowling Green

Taylor Allex will be competing as an individual. Yep, Arizona State heading to Alabama. “Regionals.”

AA: Brawner, SEMO; Salas, Arizona State; Northern, UIC; Israel, SEMO
VT: Allex, Arizona State; Vorrhis, Northern Illinois
UB: Carter, Northern Illinois; Africano, Northern Illinois
BB: Mohler, Illinois State; Greenfield, Northern Illinois
FX: Allex, Arizona State; Jones, SEMO

I’m really excited by this one because we’re guaranteed to have a nationals qualifier that we wouldn’t necessarily have expected heading into the season, with Cal, Boise State, and Kentucky (based on what we saw at SECs) in it for that second spot. All three of these teams could get into the high 196s, and Boise State spent much of the early part of the season outscoring Cal. All would have been threats if distributed to other regionals. Bowling Green made regionals!

AFTERNOON SEMIFINAL GROUPS

MINNESOTA (5:00 ET/2:00 PT)
Florida
Denver
Minnesota
Missouri
Ohio State
BYU

AA: Young, Iowa State; Sievers, Iowa State; Witgen, Air Force; Lewis, Air Force
VT: Converse, Iowa State; Ledesma, Iowa State
UB: Green, Iowa State; Smith, UW-Whitewater
BB: Marasco, Iowa State; Converse, Iowa State
FX: Ledesma, Iowa State; Paz, Iowa State

Overall season form would tell us that Denver joins Florida coming out of this regional, but Minnesota is at home and has flown up in the scores over the last month, making this a little more exciting than it would have seemed otherwise. Who’s scoring higher on floor, Nina McGee or Lindsay Mable (or Bridgey Caquatto…)? Missouri had more troubles at SECs than the other sides, but we’ve seen the mid-196s.

MICHIGAN (6:00 ET/3:00 PT)
Auburn
Michigan
Stanford
Eastern Michigan
Penn State
New Hampshire

AA: Offutt, Pittsburgh; Groden, Rutgers; Valentine, West Chester; Pearson, Pittsburgh
VT: Wilson, Rutgers; Amoresano, Rutgers
UB: Liautaud, Bridgeport; Botson, Pittsburgh
BB: Green, Cornell; Comport, Bridgeport
FX: Comport, Bridgeport; Cutolo, Bridgeport

YESSSSSS PLEASSSSSE. This is the one we’ve been excited about. Stanford still probably comes in as the underdog because of season form and the performance at Pac-12s, which was more competitive than the score might suggest compared to the scores from the other teams in this section but was still somewhat ragged. They may need to pull out some special Stanford last-minute projects like Hong on floor to boost the scoring potential. Stanford has a very good shot to win bars and beam at this regional, but Auburn and Michigan will soar on floor, so can Stanford minimize the deficit? We’ll have to do a lot of talking about this one.

GEORGIA (4:00 ET/1:00 PT)
LSU
Georgia
Oregon State
Arizona
George Washington
Michigan State

AA: Watkins, NC State; Lane, North Carolina; McKellar, Towson; Stover, William & Mary
VT: Tang, Maryland; Knight, NC State
UB: Epperson, Maryland; Hedelund, North Carolina
BB: Arduino, Towson; Wild, NC State
FX: Tang, Maryland, Roberts, Maryland

Don’t sleep on Oregon State. This really should be the LSU/Georgia show, and that’s what I would pick if I were making a call, but Oregon State has improved miles in the last month. A lot will depend on how vault and floor are evaluated. LSU and Georgia have MUCH bigger floor lineups than Oregon State, but Oregon State has been minimizing deductions lately, and the beam performance at Pac-12s was lovely. Will Georgia’s beam be lovely?

Semifinals should work out relatively evenly (at least in terms of quality of teams, though one semi will be very SEC loaded), but so much will depend on who actually gets through. If we have an upset, it could make for a really uneven distribution, which is why I don’t love making the semifinal draw in advance.

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Regionals Be Cray

Now, more than ever.

With the conference championships out of the way, NCAA gymnastics will hope that we all quickly move on to focusing on regionals so that we don’t spend any more time talking about SEC Championships and the 88-minute scoring calculation delay it took to get all the abacuses out of storage (apparently) and figure out that Florida got exactly the score needed to win.

So, we’ll oblige. Regionals!

Tomorrow at 4:00 ET, streamed on ncaa.org, we’ll learn the exact regional placements during the definitely-necessary-and-not-at-all-silly REGIONALS SELECTION SHOW EXTRAVAGANZA, but this year, there’s a little more reason for an actual regionals announcement than usual because we don’t know exactly how the regional placements will be adjusted to account for hosting conflicts.

Here are the 36 teams advancing to regionals:

NC State needed just a 194.775 at EAGLs to take that final spot away from Michigan State but was not able to do it, finishing just a hair short of a spot in spite of coming into yesterday ranked #33. The big disappointment of the day.

As dictated by the NCAA Official Terrible Seeding Procedure, the top-18 teams are supposed to be distributed in the following format:
1-12-13
2-11-14
3-10-15
4-9-16
5-8-17
6-7-18

Thankfully, this distribution will have to be adjusted this year because of host conflicts, which is good news because the seeding setup continues to make exactly zero sense as a procedure. If we were to arrange the seeds by the normal standard, we would end up with these groups (Note: there is currently a tie for 13th between Arkansas and Oregon State, which is broken by looking at the highest score not already being used as one of the six for RQS, which means the tiebreak goes to Arkansas, 196.500 to 196.225). Whether you can say that Arkansas “wins” the tiebreak, I’m not sure.

Oklahoma – Nebraska – Arkansas
Florida – Denver – Oregon State
LSU – Cal – Boise State
Alabama (host) – Georgia (host) – Minnesota (host)
Utah (host) – UCLA – Washington
Auburn – Michigan (host) – Stanford

The remaining host is #19 Iowa, and if Iowa had finished 18th, things would have been even crazier. Lots of arguments have been going around about how the committee will elect to resort these teams, but there are some vague guidelines given in the rules to provide some sense of how this will be resolved. When host conflicts emerge, the lower-seeds are adjusted, while the higher seeds receive precedent to remain in place if possible. Teams cannot be moved more than two places out of seeding, and should be moved only one (higher or lower) when possible. That’s not going to be possible in this case, so we will have some two-spot moving.

Now, if you start adjustments with the lowest-seed conflicting host, you would move Minnesota first, swapping with Boise State (because swapping with Washington would just create another host conflict). So then we would have this:

Oklahoma – Nebraska – Arkansas
Florida – Denver – Oregon State
LSU – Cal – Minnesota (host)
Alabama (host) – Georgia (host) – Boise State
Utah (host) – UCLA – Washington
Auburn – Michigan (host) – Stanford

Better, but not fixed. Then, you have to adjust Georgia. Since there is a host conflict on either side of Georgia now, you would have to move Georgia two spots (two spots up, because two spots down also creates a conflict), leaving us with this:

Option 1:
Oklahoma – Nebraska – Arkansas
Florida – Georgia (host) – Oregon State
LSU – Cal – Minnesota (host)
Alabama (host) – Denver – Boise State
Utah (host) – UCLA – Washington
Auburn – Michigan (host) – Stanford

I’ve simply swapped Georgia and Denver (rather than bumping Georgia up two and adjusting Denver and Cal each down one) because the guidelines use the word “exchanged” when referring to moving seeds and don’t say anything about adjusting each affected seed downward when a move of two spaces is made. Whatever? I’d prefer the other way, but we’ll see. This setup resolves all conflicts, allowing the Oklahoma group to head to Iowa, the final host.

That’s at least the way I read the rules, that you start by moving the lower-seed host, and then work up the seedings. But, Georgia is ranked higher than Minnesota and has had to move two spots, while Minnesota has had to move only one. Should the higher seed get the honor of being moved fewer spots and the lower seed moved more? Maybe. If we try to move Georgia one spot and Minnesota two, we end up with this:

Option 2:
Oklahoma – Nebraska – Arkansas
Florida – Denver – Minnesota (host)
LSU – Georgia (host) – Boise State
Alabama (host) – Cal – Oregon State
Utah (host) – UCLA – Washington
Auburn – Michigan (host) – Stanford

Another possibility. Either way, I’d say that Oklahoma/Nebraska/Arkansas are together and going to Iowa (yikes!). Utah/UCLA/Washington are together in Battle Pac-12, and Auburn/Michigan/Stanford are together (double yikes!).

Now, if we go with Option 1 but swap the way I’d prefer, moving Georgia up two and then adjusting Denver and Cal each down one, we’d get this:

Option 3:
Oklahoma – Nebraska – Arkansas
Florida – Georgia (host) – Oregon State
LSU – Denver – Minnesota (host)
Alabama (host) – Cal – Boise State
Utah (host) – UCLA – Washington
Auburn – Michigan (host) – Stanford

If we do the same to Option 2, moving Minnesota up two and adjusting Oregon State and Boise State each down one, we’d get this:

Option 4:
Oklahoma – Nebraska – Arkansas
Florida – Denver – Minnesota (host)
LSU – Georgia (host) – Oregon State
Alabama (host) – Cal – Boise State
Utah (host) – UCLA – Washington
Auburn – Michigan (host) – Stanford

My reading of the rules points to Option 1, so that’s the one I’m going with, but I’m presenting the other options so that when Option 1 doesn’t happen, I can point to my backups and say, “Well, I said that might happen too, you guys.”

The remaining teams ranked 19-36 are organized into three pots, (19-24, 25-30, 31-36), and are assigned “geographically,” when possible, to the host within their region or the closest possible host. There are always conflicts, so these teams often end up traveling way farther than they should, hence the criticism of the term “regionals.” It’s hardly a regional anything.

Here’s a screenshot of the manual that I’ve just summarized, so that you can let me know where I’ve gone wrong.

We’ll also need this tomorrow when the placement turns out to be super weird and inexplicable, to try to find of what the committee has done with its lives. 

Also, because of brackets being a thing, the semifinal classifications have already been made. The qualifiers from the [1] Oklahoma, [4] Alabama, and [5] Utah regionals will be placed in one semifinal, while the qualifiers from the [2] Florida, [3] LSU, and [6] Auburn will be placed in the other semifinal. We’ll have to wait to see how the regionals are divided to see whether that’s stupid or not.

Conference Championships Live Blog

 Saturday, March 19
11:00 ET/8:00 PT – Jesolo Senior Team and AA
12:00 ET/9:00 PT – Big Ten Championship Session 1 – SCORESBig Ten Network
12:00 ET/9:00 PT – ECAC DI Championship – SCORES
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – ECAC DII Championship
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – SEC Championship Session 1 – SCORESSECN
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – MAC Championship – SCORESESPN3
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – EAGL Championship- SCORESESPN3
3:00 ET/12:00 PT – Division III Individual Championship – Stream
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Pac-12 Championship Session 1 – SCORESPac-12
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Big Ten Championship Session 2 – SCORES – Big Ten Network
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Big 12 Championship – SCORES – TV: Fox Sports affiliates
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – MIC Championship – SCORES
6:00 ET/3:00 PT – SEC Championship Session 2 – SCORESSECN
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Mountain Rim Championship – SCORESStream
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Pac-12 Championship Session 2 – SCORESPac-12
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Mountain Pacific Championship- SCORESAunt Flo($)

The fourth-most exciting day of the college gymnastics season has finally arrived! I know you’ve had it circled on your calendars for months. It is a big one, with some important elite action thrown in, so I prepared a schedule. Everything is better with a chart.

 

Also, keep an eye on the rankings coming into the day, the final chance for teams to change their lot. The full breakdown of what teams need is here.

Here’s the short version, the scores each of the borderline teams will need in order to guarantee advancing to regionals:
Kent State 195.050
NC State 195.525
BYU 195.700
New Hampshire 195.800
Utah State 195.950
Bowling Green 196.050
Michigan State 196.250

Central Michigan, Maryland, and Iowa State can also qualify, but they will have to rely on one or more of the teams above not reaching the listed score. This setup will change through the day as we get some results, clarifying what teams actually need.

Week 10 rankings

Continue reading Conference Championships Live Blog

SEC Championship Preview

Saturday 3/19
Afternoon session 2:00 ET/11:00 PT
Evening session 6:00 ET/3:00 PT

It’s tomorrow! Everything starts very early, with Jesolo getting underway even before the first session of Big Tens. It’ll be a huge day of live blogging and gymnastics watching, so we’ll have to pace ourselves early. Don’t waste your energy before the big-girl sessions begin.

Finally. After years of watching poky live score spreadsheet templates that didn’t even update, followed by the recent generous bestowing of an internet stream, the SEC Championship will at last be broadcast live on actual televisions this year. Happy 1968, everyone!

In an attempt to make up for doing such a terrible job at this for so long, the SEC Network is whipping out all the bells and whistles this season, with a TV broadcast accompanied by each individual event streaming online, meaning we can make sure to watch all of Georgia’s beam routines from behind our fingers while still getting the competition done in a cool two hours. I’m on board. The SEC Network is also really talking up the hip new quad-meet scoring interface it will debut (to the point where it better physically shoot candy and cheeseburgers out of the TV to live up to this), so I’m eager to see what that looks like. The SEC Net has done a very good job of displaying the scores and running totals in an unobtrusive manner so far, so there’s reason for optimism.

NBC really needs to take notes on what the SEC Network does with live scoring heading into the Olympics. With an easy way to update live scores at the bottom of the screen, you don’t need to watch Gabby do her grips for 25 minutes while waiting for the score. You can move on to other routines, and then display the score and real-time rankings as they come in. You know, actual development and innovation, not just MEANINGLESS TRIANGLES.

EVENING SESSION
Florida, LSU, Alabama, Auburn

While we all roll our eyes every time an SEC coach says that winning the SEC Championship is harder than winning the national championship (it objectively isn’t to anyone who thinks about it for literally one second), this is still a hell of a competition with a solid five teams realistically capable of a hearty 197. Given the scores we’ve seen this season, however, winning this title really should take a high 197, which probably precludes Auburn and Georgia unless it’s a splatfest and they slide on through. Once again, we’re looking at Florida, LSU, and Alabama.

Alabama won last season, taking advantage of a beam catastrophe from Florida and beam foreshadowing wobbles from LSU to dance to the top spot with a 197.5, and Alabama’s totals so far this year indicate the need for something similar. Alabama has peaked at 197.5s while LSU has gone into the 197.9s and Florida into the 198s. But, if we correct for some silly scoring and for Alabama’s epic depth exploration in every meet, there’s probably not actually a whole fall worth of difference between these teams. While it will be tough for Alabama to match an ideal meet from LSU or Florida based on what we’ve seen, I’m not willing to write off the Tide quite yet. But between Florida and LSU? Take your pick. It will be close. Let’s get into it.

Rotation 1: Florida vault, LSU bars, Alabama beam, Auburn floor  

Event RQS for rotation 1
Auburn 49.435
Florida 49.390
LSU 49.370
Alabama 49.300

You’ll notice something a bit unexpected in those RQSs in that they tell us Auburn should be leading after the first rotation. It could happen because of floor reasons, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Although for Auburn, it’s absolutely necessary if a title challenge is in play. While Atkinson’s is a definite 9.9+ routine (along with occasionally Rott, Demers, and Hlawek), the high floor RQSs across the conference and country reflect loose end-of-meet scoring rather than significant supremacy over the quality of other teams on other events. It will be tough to replicate in this context, and Auburn taking a first-rotation lead would also require a couple other teams under-performing early.

This first event is also critical for LSU to establish a high-scoring pace since bars is their weakest event (the RQS is lower on beam, but beam). Finnegan is obviously a star, and the return of Priessman ups the scoring potential, but a couple 9.800s with form breaks and lower amplitude at the beginning of the lineup put LSU’s bars behind those of Florida. If LSU can get Zamardi, Finnegan, Priessman, Wyrick, and Hambrick all in the lineup at the same time, however, that should minimize counting any low scores and bolster what could be a flat event, but those five have not actually been in the same lineup yet this season. Judging by a high 197 standard, LSU must go into the 49.4s on bars to avoid falling off the pace.

Vault is Florida’s lowest-scoring event, though it really shouldn’t be, not with those huge 1.5s from Baker and Boren and supreme fulls from McMurtry and Sloan. It all comes down to landing control. Caquatto and Fassbender can get 9.800ish, and if Baker and Boren are bounding forward out of those 1.5s, those scores can get down to 9.850 in a jiffy. With a good hit, however, Florida should verge on 49.5 and will look to be leading after the first. Scoring down into the 49.3s would constitute a door swinging open.

Alabama has exquisite beam workers in Aja Sims, Guerrero, McNeer, and Winston and with an ideal lineup in place, shouldn’t be ceding ground to any other team in the country based on beam. They’re too talented. That’s why it’s a little surprising that Alabama has hit the 49.3 mark on just three occasions this season, and not since mid-February. Inconsistency has been a burden, with Bailey and Beers struggling to find the security of past seasons, and then there’s the old lineup shuffling. Those four I mentioned at the top of the paragraph haven’t competed on beam together since February 12th, but they’ll absolutely need to be the core at the center of a high-scoring cake. Cakes have cores. What are you saying about? Settling for 49.3s won’t be good enough to get on winning pace, even on beam, and while this rotation order means that Alabama probably won’t be bursting out of the gates, the 9.9 sisters must show up on beam if this is to be an Alabama postseason.

Rotation 2: Auburn vault, Florida bars, LSU beam, Alabama floor

Event RQS through 2 rotations (Event RQS for rotation 2):
Florida 98.855 (49.465)
Alabama 98.715 (49.415)
Auburn 98.685 (49.250)
LSU 98.660 (49.290)

Rotation two is going to be a good one. This rotation is why I’ll be glad for the four-event stream because the scores might seriously fly on every piece. Interestingly, RQS tells us that LSU should be trailing the pack after two events, but that wouldn’t be the end of the world for the Tigers since they’ll end on floor and vault and can make up a ton of ground there. If LSU is within a couple tenths of the lead after two pieces, DD will be shooting animal-print rainbows out of her eyes. Still, LSU shouldn’t actually be trailing after beam and would consider something close to that RQS of 49.290 a disappointing performance. With this lineup and those potential 9.9s throughout the order, we should expect 49.4s. 

It will still be tough for LSU to lead after two because Florida and Alabama both also compete on high-scoring events in the second rotation, but the Tigers just can’t let it get out of hand. Florida is the conference’s best bars team and probably the country’s best bars team (though Oklahoma would disagree), and the Gators will expect to have a solid lead after two events. Sloan and Caquatto should be scoring in the 9.9s each time, BDG often hits that mark as well, and McMurtry…well, we know what happens there. It’s a believable recipe for 49.500 and has looked the closest to postseason-ready among Florida’s events over the last month. If Florida is looking for areas of advantage over LSU, bars is the biggest one.

Alabama has about 68 realistic floor options that could score 9.850, but whom to choose? It won’t be good enough just to hang in the 9.850s during this rotation, not with this level of competition, which is why success or failure in this championship could hinge on who is able to go on floor. The amount Carley Sims has been able to progress since we saw her two weeks ago will be critical. She’s back, but in her floor performances so far she hasn’t looked full Carley Sims. She needs more time to return to her normal level, but if she’s there and is joined by a Winston/Beers/Jetter-type lineup, we can expect at least 49.4, which is the minimum Alabama needs here to challenge. If, however, the Tide is forced to opt for a more Aja Sims/Giancroce-type lineup (both of whom are perfectly solid for 9.850), then challenging the LSU floor machine and staying competitive becomes a serious task.

As we’ve moved toward the end of the season, Auburn has been squeezing every possible tenth out of the vault lineup and staying much more competitive than I would have thought given the available options. At the same time, the limits of lineup depth and difficulty (just one 10.0 start most of the time) put a ceiling on what Auburn will be able to do here, making a big early floor statement all the more critical.

Rotation 3: Alabama vault, Auburn bars, Florida beam, LSU floor

Event RQS through 3 rotations (Event RQS for rotation 3):
Florida 148.260 (49.405)
LSU 148.170 (49.510)
Alabama 148.030 (49.315)
Auburn 147.965 (49.280)

And now we arrive at the portion of the meet during which LSU should be making a move. If we’re truly to believe in the Tigers’ ability to win, they’ll need to jump into the lead after three events. The RQS tells us that LSU should be in second after three, but with Florida ending on floor (even though LSU will be on a strength at the same time, vault), no team can allow Florida to have a lead going to the last rotation. They’ll just Baker everyone into submission. 

One through six, I’d say LSU has the strongest and most even floor lineup in the country, able to warrant 9.9s from Ewing in the first spot right through Gnat in the final spot. There are a couple issues (Wyrick has some leg form and chest position here and there, Kelley can be inconsistent with those landings), but fewer issues than the other teams have. We should expect the 49.5 that RQS tells us LSU will get, which is why the Tigers have the opportunity to gain a couple tenths on a Gator beam rotation.

Florida does score very well on beam, but uncertainty has crept into the lineup recently, assisted by the yet-another-injury to Peyton Ernst that kept her out of last weekend’s meet. The work is not quite as pristine as what LSU and Alabama can boast, with a couple more moments of leg form, short splits, and Ericha Fassbender’s sheep jump. Under normal circumstances, there are still a couple 9.9s in this lineup as long as Bridget Sloan remembers that she’s Bridget Sloan, that’s a side aerial, and COME ON. It’s not exactly a feeble event and has often won meets for Florida, but this is the closest Florida comes to a rotation where the other teams can pounce.

Alabama has the difficulty on vault with three 1.5s from Beers, Brannan, and Guerrero, all of whom have scored well at times this season, but it hasn’t quite come together in the same meet yet, keeping Alabama at respectable but often modest totals. The 49.2s won’t get it done in an SEC Championship. All three of the 1.5s should go at least 9.850 (Guerrero’s is a bit shorter and less laid out than the others, so she’s more likely to stay in the 9.8s, while Beers can go 9.950 for a stick), but the factor bringing the scores down has often been the quality of the fulls. The vaults from Bailey, Bresette, and Armbrecht aren’t consistently competitive in an SEC vaulting context, so Alabama will need to have McNeer and Winston back on vault to put up a number that can keep relative pace with what Florida and LSU do here. 

Meanwhile, in DLOs-that-are-to-die-for news, may I introduce Auburn. It’s somewhat surprising to me that Auburn is down at 8th in the country on bars because a lot of this work is exceptional, particularly the dismounts. There are a few form issues in the beginning of the lineup that can keep the scores in the lower 9.8s, but once we get to Milliet and Atkinson, expect the number to go quite high. Keeping pace throughout the meet will be extremely challenging for Auburn, but this event should merit a respectable score. In the rankings, Auburn is already pretty well set for that normally-coveted 6/7/18 regional (unless that 18 seed ends up being Stanford, in which case this would become the nightmare regional), but a 196.975 in this meet would guarantee dropping no lower than 7th in the rankings.

Rotation 4: LSU vault, Alabama bars, Auburn beam, Florida floor

Event RQS through 4 rotations (Event RQS for rotation 4):
Florida 197.745 (49.485)
LSU 197.615 (49.445)
Alabama 197.400 (49.370)
Auburn 197.140 (49.175)

Note that these are the totals of the four event RQSs, not the teams’ overall ranking RQS.

Florida has the luxury of coming home on an event that hat scored as high as 49.675 this season. I’m hoping that the introduction of four judges for championship season and the context of an actual title on the line will keep floor scores a little saner than they’ve been this season, but even so, finishing on floor will give Florida the opportunity to make up any small deficit that may have arisen (or just seal the deal). This floor rotation has had some issues this year, spending most of the first few months of the season looking like half a team, but McMurtry joining the fold and Caquatto getting it together lately has beefed up the lineup into something more competitive, relying less on 9.825s from McLaughlin and Fassbender or that backup routine from Hiller. It’s still not the strongest floor in the country, but when Baker and Sloan are hitting, it’s quite difficult to beat. If the Gators are in the vicinity of first place going to the final event, bet on them.

But it really must be the vicinity of first because LSU on vault is LSU on vault. The Tigers may drop a little bit to Florida in this rotation, but not much. If they have managed a lead after floor, they’ll be feeling pretty darn pretty going to vault. While I wouldn’t necessarily classify this as one of the all-time amazing LSU vault lineups, they’ve been able to take advantage of the new rules and superior difficulty to snatch some massive scores. Gnat’s giant DTY has settled into a pattern of going 10.000 when she sticks and 9.950 when she doesn’t, which is such a valuable scoring guarantee. The rest of the lineup would have to put up total stinkers for the score not to be competitive. They don’t usually do that, with useful 1.5s from Ewing and Savona (Savona may still need a little more time to find her landing) and one of the country’s better fulls from Hambrick. The Tigers occasionally lose a little bit in the early part of the lineup when they have to use Macadaeg and Cannamela, whose fulls are fine (and have improved) but not as dynamic as the best vaults. That’s more something to watch compared to Oklahoma when we get to nationals though, because the same remark can be made about Florida and Alabama.

Alabama’s bars terrify me. That’s not to say the score can’t be good. It has been as high as 49.6 this year, and Kiana Winston’s routine is among the best in the country. It also helps that the judges have suddenly decided that Brannan’s bars work is worth 9.925 even though it’s the identical routine she was performing at the beginning of the lineup for 9.800-9.825 early in the season. But then there’s also Jetter’s double front. Yikes. Watch that space. If Alabama is going to win this title, it will take a season-best performance during which things happen that we haven’t seen yet. Bars is the event where Alabama may just pull something out and be suddenly more competitive than we’ve expected as long as Winston, Bailey, and Jetter are all having a good day.

Being the runt of the session, Auburn has to start on floor and end on beam. (Would you rather go in the evening session starting on floor or in the afternoon session starting on vault?) Beam has been an OK event for Auburn this year, retaining some of the glory of last year with Atkinson, Milliet, and Demers uniting for a trio of lovely, but it hasn’t been quite as crisp, consistent, or high-scoring. Megan Walker has absolutely not been replaced. We’ll also have to watch Atkinson in the AA battle. Sloan enters as the favorite because of Sloan, but I’d probably put Atkinson at second-favorite to win, aided by the fact that she anchors every event. If intra-lineup score building is happening, Atkinson could ride that to a major total. There are a number of other contending options, including Baker and Boren for Florida (though they won’t have the bars and beam scores to win if Sloan is nailing the meet), Rogers and Jay for Georgia (beam asterisk), Hambrick for LSU (maybe not the bigness across four events?), and whoever does AA for Alabama this time (I like Winston’s chances if she’s actually able to do four events). But to me Sloan and Atkinson look like the most convincing favorites.

AFTERNOON SESSION
Georgia, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky

Sort of like the Pac-12, we do have a vaguely realistic title challenger in the earlier session in Georgia, though I would say Stanford is more likely to win the Pac-12 than Georgia is to win the SEC. Yes? True? With me? Georgia is capable of very high scores, but do we see the 197.8-197.9 it may take to win this thing coming from Georgia? I’m thinking Georgia would be really happy with a 197.4ish score and challenging for 3rd place. That would reflect four strong events with real hits, not just we-avoided-a-fall hits. Those have been too hard to come by this season.

Georgia’s asset remains vault, a lineup that is solidly top-3 in the conference and should be the primary factor boosting Georgia ahead of the other schools in this session, toward a mark that would be challenging for the evening teams to match. The Gymdogs have the difficulty with three 1.5s, aided by mostly solid fulls from the rest of the group. That, and a floor rotation led by believable 9.9s from Marino, Jay, and Box, is what will lead Georgia into the 197s. Bars has been fine, not the disaster it might have been this season given the lineup exodus. Although, they do need to figure out what’s happening in that second spot, which is now occupied by Johnson who works bars like a vault specialist. They’ll want to drop that score every time, which puts pressure on the others not just to hit but to 9.850+ hit. All of this is a way of dancing around the beam issue. We’ve talked about it enough. The last few meets have been encouraging, but that’s not enough to declare the epidemic over, especially because even if there’s no fall, Georgia is still risking a couple 9.7s, which is pretty much as good as a fall when trying to contend for an SEC title.

In spite of all that’s happened this season, Georgia has a legitimate shot to move into the 6/7 spots if either Auburn or Michigan has a bad day on Saturday. Although since Utah (currently #5) and Michigan (currently #7) are also regionals hosts along with Georgia, we’re looking at some rearranging either way.

Somewhat lost in the shuffle of all these contenders has been Arkansas, a team that over-performed expectations early in the season by spending a couple months in the top 10 and has frequently proven capable of snatching 196.7s. Also helping Arkansas is the “neutral site that isn’t a neutral site” thing, making this pretty much a home meet that counts as a road meet. That will allow them to drop a road 196.1 (very doable) and move back up the rankings, potentially as high as #10. As things stand right now, Arkansas would be paired with Oklahoma and Nebraska at regionals, a fate they’d rather avoid.

The Razorbacks have somewhat exceeded what I expected this season, in large part because of vault. I expected the new vault values to destroy a team like Arkansas that doesn’t have 1.5s, but they have shown that a six-yfull strategy is still tenable (disproving the perennial fear that changing the vault values would make teams like Arkansas less able to contend) as long as those fulls are, you know, landed well. Beam has also been considerably un-terrible this season, much better than last year, with every score going over 49 since the first-week disaster. That’s much better consistency than I expected from this group. I normally rail against the strategy of burying the best beam workers at the front of the lineup, as Arkansas has done, because it compromises scoring potential (and I think you can argue that it has because Arkansas gets stuck at 49.1 for hit rotations). It’s often a knee-jerk reaction to falls and in many cases isn’t even necessary. Teams have a couple meets with falls, throw Janie Beamington into the first spot, and later the team starts hitting, believing that they’re hitting because Janie Beamington is in the first spot. When really, the two may not be related. But at that point, because they believe it, the lineup doesn’t get changed to one that would score better in the postseason, and the team has handcuffed itself.

Anyway, Arkansas has done well putting the best beamers at the beginning.

And Missouri has done well not being the weakest team in the conference this season. Hooray! Ever since Missouri joined the SEC, they’ve been the caboose of the conference, but picking it up to 7th out of 8 this year is a big deal. That sounds sarcastic, but it actually is a big deal. It has been too long since Missouri got 196s at all, let alone five of them in the same season. Porter, Ward, Miller, Harris, are Schugel make up a competitive core of high-scoring gymnasts that Missouri didn’t have even back during the glory season of 2010 when it was Sarah Shire and Company, starring Sarah Shire as Sarah Shire. Like Arizona, Missouri has an outside shot of getting into the top-18 and snatching a seed if everything goes just right, but it’s not likely. 

It’s rather unlikely that Missouri or Kentucky will challenge the top 6, though it’s certainly possible if Arkansas is just OK. More likely, they will be fighting each other not to finish in the basement, which is a meaningless distinction but helpful for pride. That’s pretty much what Kentucky is playing for here since little will change in terms of rankings or regionals placement at this point. Which team is more 196ish and more likely to hope for a weird upset bid at a regional, that’s what we’ll need to watch. They’re both in it with a shot. Dukes, Hyland, and Stuart have reinvigorated a Kentucky program that looked like it was headed for a dip this year after the million injuries and routine losses of last season. Keep an eye on next year. Top 18 wouldn’t be surprising. 

Pac-12 Championship Preview

Saturday 3/19
Afternoon session 4:00 ET/1:00 PT
Evening session 9:00 ET/6:00 PT

The Pac-12 should take pride this season in winning the award for the weirdest conference championship scenario. Stanford is the #6 seed and competing in the “who even are you?” afternoon relegation session in spite of being quite a realistic title contender and possible winner, which if nothing else, will serve to make sure we all pay more attention to the afternoon session instead of getting distracted by the simultaneous Big Ten, Big 12, and SEC action. Fun fact: there will be at least 30 minutes during which all four of those championships are going on at the same time. Well, we’ve had a good life.

Stanford’s last meet featured a relative crushing of Georgia and UCLA, so if that’s any indication, Stanford is currently in the midst of pulling a Stanford once again this year. But, let’s begin with the ones who were good all season long and qualified for the coveted evening session.  

EVENING SESSION
Utah, UCLA, Cal, Oregon State

Once again, Utah has earned the top seed in the conference on the back of resolutely having the fewest meltdowns. Hooray! Seven straight weeks of 197s coupled with breaking the 197.5 barrier in the last two outings has given the Utes a fairly comfortable ranking lead over the remaining Pac-12 teams, meaning they’ll be favorites heading in. Given what UCLA and Stanford can do, however, there shouldn’t more than a few tenths in this either way with hit meets all around (ahahahahahaha), so we have at least some reason to hope for excitement. UCLA is capable of busting out a massive day, and after Stanford goes, we’ll have the benefit of a legitimate pace standard through which to gauge Utah and UCLA’s performances. So, let’s break this thing down.

Rotation 1: UCLA vault, Cal bars, Utah beam, Oregon State floor

Event RQS for rotation 1:
Utah 49.290
UCLA 49.165
Oregon State 49.165
Cal 49.110

Of course UCLA is the team that drew its arch-nemesis, Olympic order, meaning the Bruins already have a four-tenth deficit, and the competition is two days away. It actually is probably beneficial to the Bruins as they make their money on beam and floor and would rather end there than begin there, hoping to squeeze out some home-meet level scoring as Cipra and Bynum on floor will be the last routines of the competition, at the end of a long day, once the judges are already halfway through the whiskey bottle. I know. That’s not right of me to say. They’ll obviously have finished the whiskey by that point and be on to the cooking sherry and rubbing alcohol.

As for vault, UCLA has lacked the required landing control and difficulty (having to rely on Bynum’s arabian and Pua’s roller coaster 1.5), often bouncing back on fulls and hoping to get a 9.825 out of them. The sticking shoes showed up just once a couple weeks ago to earn UCLA a 49.375, but more often the score has been about 49.1. It wouldn’t be the end of the world, but the Bruins will hope to go over 49.2 to keep pace early. None of the teams are starting on particularly strong events, so don’t expect anyone to run away with this thing at the beginning.

Utah’s beam will be among the key rotations to keep every eye on because of Stover Watch 2016. She may be able to compete beam at Pac-12s after all, and if she’s back in form, that bolsters Utah’s scoring potential by a solid tenth, maybe more, and seriously reduces the Fall Terror Index. It was rising considerably depending on who was going to have to come into the lineup. Utah has had its share of falls this season, but this isn’t among the most terrifying beam lineups in the conference. Lopez is currently doing the best beam work of her career, and if Utah can get at least 9.875s from her, Rowe, and Stover (?), along with two other hits, breaking into 49.300+ range seems doable, at least depending on how some of those early-lineup short splits are being evaluated. If the Utes emerge from beam in the first rotation with a true lead, that significantly fuels their chances because they’ll be heading off to higher-scoring, lower-risk events from here. If it’s 49.1 or lower, ring all the bells because it’s feeding time for the vultures. 

Oregon State hasn’t been as competitive as usual with the top of the Pac-12 this season, so while the Beavs remain a team to watch that could snatch this title at the last second (as has happened before), that scenario seems less likely this year. They’ve topped out in the high 196s, which is not going to be strong enough to win this championship. It would take a season high by a considerable margin, which would need to start on floor in the first rotation. Since floor is the highest-scoring event, Oregon State would need to nail that double pike parade with supreme control and use Perez powers to greatly exceed that paltry 49.1 RQS, which would guard against the inevitably dropped tenths coming on vault.

In contrast to Oregon State, Cal has recorded one score this season that could be good enough to win this title, but realistically it still looks like there’s another step between Cal and winning a conference title. The fact that it’s even a conversation this year, however, is a victory. Cal possesses great line on bars and has received some big numbers in a couple meets this season, but the performances I’ve seen have also included some flexed feet and missed handstands, so I’m eager to see how this rotation is evaluated. Bars was Cal’s highest-scoring event in that recent 197.5 result with a 49.475, and while there’s no need/reason to expect that again, the bars total needs to be at least in the same state as that 49.475. A 49.100 would severely compromise the team’s chance to hit 197. Exceeding RQS is key, but don’t necessarily expect Cal to be busting out with a lead in first half of the meet, starting on bars and beam. They’ll plan on making up ground on floor later on and pushing up through the standings from the back. 

Rotation 2: Oregon State vault, UCLA bars, Cal beam, Utah floor

Event RQS through 2 rotations (Event RQS for rotation 2):
Utah 98.755 (49.465)
UCLA 98.350 (49.185)
Cal 98.230 (49.120)
Oregon State 98.150 (48.985)

This is Utah’s rotation. RQS tells us that Utah should have a four-tenth lead at the halfway point, mostly because, in rotation 2, all the other teams go a weakness while Utah goes to the highest-scoring apparatus. Utah does not have big floor routines this year, but we’ve seen Schwab, Hughes, and Partyka (earlier in the season) earn some massive scores for going through cleanly and minimizing those landing deductions. It will be fascinating to watch how the judges respond to that and if they’re willing to give out 9.950s for double pike routines in the second rotation of a meet. The general scoring landscape and precedent leads me to think that they will, but we’ll see how this total compares to Utah’s home floor scoring (Utah has peaked at 49.425 for road floor, while the last three home floor scores have been 49.625, 49.575, and 49.525).

Meanwhile, UCLA will go to bars, so stop, drop, and roll. It has been a sloppy road this year. Without Peng and with Ohashi only able to show a couple routines so far, the lineup has been populated by too many just trying to squeak out a 9.825. Ohashi has returned to beam and floor so far post-sternum, but the bars lineup really does need her to elevate the scoring potential, along with one of Sophina’s good dismounts and some of that special magic that got Janay Honest a 9.950 last week. The goal for the Bruins here will be to minimize the deficit, because there will be a deficit versus Utah on floor. They’ll like their chances to gain ground later in the meet, so it’s about getting as close as possible. Getting closer than the RQS predicts would do.

Likewise, Cal will be looking to minimize damage in rotation 2 as beam has been the struggle event this season. It’s not nearly as worrisome as last year when it cost Cal the chance to upset Utah at regionals, but it’s still the event on which Cal is most likely to get stuck counting scores in the 9.7s. We are seeing shades of truly fine performances from the likes of Howe, and that RQS is over 49, but Cal will be relying more on bars and floor to bump up the score.

If you’re pointing to an event that has contributed the most to Oregon State’s falling a bit lower in the Pac-12 hierarchy, it’s vault. Vault is not traditionally Oregon State’s event, and this year the lower SV have exacerbated the issue with all those fulls struggling around the 9.750 territory. Sticking shoes will be absolutely critical because even though a huge score on vault is no longer the must it used to be, you still can’t win a big title with a sub-49 vault.

Rotation 3: Utah vault, Oregon State bars, UCLA beam, Cal floor

Event RQS through 3 rotations (Event RQS for rotation 3):
Utah 148.000 (49.245)
UCLA 147.590 (49.240)
Cal 147.485 (49.230)
Oregon State 147.410 (49.260)

And now the inverse of rotation 2. The RQSs in this rotation are very closely packed, which would suit Utah quite nicely. Utah would love every team to score around the same total in the 3rd and maintain the pace set in the previous rotation. The issue for Utah is the potential for other teams to put up big performances, since Utah’s peak vault score is 49.275, while OSU and Cal have gone into the 49.4s on bars and floor respectively, and UCLA can and has hit 49.5 on beam.

UCLA beam is not quite the force we expected it to be when presuming a healthy Peng (how silly of us), but Francis, Ohashi, and sometimes DeJesus can still deliver the numbers and Gerber has been a worthwhile leadoff this year. The Bruins are far better on beam than that 49.240 RQS suggests and will have to deliver on that potential (multiple tenths over the RQS) to expect a conference-winning total. Utah’s vault would not be able to match the scores coming from a nailed UCLA beam. While Utah is probably the best-vaulting team in the conference, that’s a bit like being the best listener at a school for the deaf. It hasn’t been a banner year for Pac-12 vaulting, and like the others, Utah has a lot of fulls getting stuck at 9.825. I like the lineup decision to put Delaney after Hughes because I still maintain it has the potential to bump Delaney up to a 9.950 for a stuck landing on the back of Hughes’ 1.5 and 10.0 SV, but Delaney has to stick. She hasn’t been sticking as much this season, so it’s basically impossible for her to do much better than the 9.875s she’s been scoring. Graduations and SV changes have conspired to sap Utah of all its vault 9.9s.

Oregon State’s bars have been an interesting animal this season, just in case you haven’t checked in for a while. Earlier in the year, bars looked like a struggle event with some serious dismount crazies bringing down the scores, but lately it has returned to being OSU’s strong apparatus the way it always should be. McMillan and Jacobsen are quite precise for possible 9.9s at the back of that lineup (I would say the most likely 9.9s the Beavs have across all the events), which must be taken advantage of if this is to be a serious score. Beyond trying to contend for the title, a strong score is essential if they’re to move out of #3-seed territory. It will take a 196.675 in this meet for the Beavs to have even a remote shot at a #2 seed, and that score would be built on bars 9.9s.

Cal is also fighting for a #2 seed but currently sits in 11th and therefore is working from a position of strength. The Bears can guarantee that #2 seed with a 196.475, which is quite doable as long as floor cooperates for something over 49. This is the event where Cal most takes advantage of Toni-Ann Business and the realistic 9.950 she can bring to send the score in a stratospheric direction. Add to that a double arabian from Robinson, a couple other deduction-minimal double pike routines, and an overall commitment to non-lame dance combinations (that doesn’t show up in the scores but I appreciate), and this should be Cal’s best-scoring event of the night.

Rotation 4: Cal vault, Utah bars, Oregon State beam, UCLA floor

Event RQS through 4 rotations (Event RQS for rotation 4):
Utah 197.395 (49.395)
UCLA 197.020 (49.430)
Cal 196.670 (49.185)
Oregon State 196.555 (49.145)

Note that these are the totals of the four event RQSs, not the teams’ overall ranking RQS.

None of the teams should be particularly distressed by where they finish the meet and all will feel, to varying degrees, like they can pick up ground on the final apparatus should that be necessary. Perhaps with the exception of Oregon State because of beam reasons, but BeaverBeam hasn’t been particularly terrifying the last few weeks. With Gardiner and McMillan, who both have creative and crisp routines, Risa Perez who has Risa Perez things going on, and the Colussi-Pelaii, we should have fairly high expectations for Oregon State here. More than some unmemorable 49.1.

Now, let’s talk about Cal’s vault because I suddenly have a lot of feelings about it starting now. Cal is the #2 vaulting team in the conference and among all the teams in the country, probably deserves the most credit for quickly and effectively adapting to the new SVs and using them to their advantage. They have a Tsuk full and a handspring-handspring pike (and a 1.5 occasionally for Williams), but on the negative side, they’ve also committed some serious counterfeit yurchenko arabian fraud in a couple instances. Seilnacht’s vault scores have been weirdly high, leading me to believe that she has been getting credit for an arabian, even though it’s definitely a yhalf. With four judges, in a championship scenario, are they finally going to crack down on some of these counterfeit arabians? Could be influential. And we all agree that vault needs to go down to a 9.950 next season, right?

Similarly to Utah, we’ll have to keep an eye on how UCLA’s floor is being evaluated compared to regular-season meets, but the Bruins do have the advantage of ending on floor in a way that might resemble a regular-season dual meet. We’ve seen DeJesus, Francis, Cipra, and Bynum all go into the 9.9s this season, which they’ll hope to use to zoom out of reach of Utah, in spite of Utah boasting quite competitive bars scores. The Utes have shown superior finishing positions in full turns this season to minimize some of the handstand deductions that smack the other teams, and when that is paired with stuck dismounts, the scores can go quite high, which is why that RQS verges on 49.4. Bars, however, is not as high scoring as floor this season overall, so UCLA will look to gain ground here and really should be the strongest team at the meet in both the 3rd and 4th rotations. We’ll just have to see if that’s enough to make up for the 1st and 2nd rotations. Or if Stanford has rendered the whole thing moot.

TRANSITION SENTENCE.

AFTERNOON SESSION
Washington, Stanford, Arizona, Arizona State

Since this is the Stanford session, it seems only appropriate that I use this section to nerd out a little bit. 

Because we have a title contender in the early session, a lot of focus will be placed (by me and maybe other people, but mostly me) on score building and whether the scores are being kept down in the first session so that they can rise in the second session. Scores being held down in earlier sessions and rising in later sessions seems to be the conventional wisdom in gymnastics, as we hear this theory every year in both elite and NCAA, though it’s very hard to make a compelling, evidence-based argument that it’s actually happening. At conference championships, the scores do indeed tend to be lower in the first session, but the teams are also weaker, so it’s impossible to attribute that to score suppression with any authority since the quality of the teams is the most significant influence there. A better indicator would be the national semifinals, where the scoring capabilities of the teams should be relatively equal between the early semifinal and the later semifinal. Let’s take a look!

This is the average score of the three teams advancing to Super Six (to weed out teams counting falls that might skew the numbers down artificially) from each semifinal session at nationals over the last six seasons. 

2015:
Semifinal #1: 197.375
Semifinal #2: 197.192

2014:
Semifinal #1: 197.300
Semifinal #2: 197.467

2013:
Semifinal #1: 197.417
Semifinal #2: 197.250

2012:
Semifinal #1: 197.242
Semifinal #2: 197.492

2011:
Semifinal #1: 196.658
Semifinal #2: 196.700

2010:
Semifinal #1: 196.683
Semifinal #2: 196.642

Overall:
Semifinal #1: 197.113
Semifinal #2: 197.124

It’s admittedly a very small sample size, but it’s enough to demonstrate that arguments of score suppression in earlier sessions don’t really have a recent factual basis. All of which is to say, there’s not necessarily a reason to think that Stanford will be held down in session 1 or is a less compelling contender because of this placement. At least heading in. We’ll see how we feel after Price gets a random 9.825 on bars.

With any kind of hit meet, Stanford should win this session in a landslide (potentially by close to a point) and will just have to wait and see what the evening teams produce and whether the total can be bested. Rest assured that Jim has already prepared all his golf analogies about Stanford setting the mark in the clubhouse.

Stanford competes in Olympic order, so the good parts will be bookended by the bad parts. Stanford’s most realistic path to a competitive pace will be to go over 49.2 on vault and floor and over 49.4 on bars and beam, which is about what happened during the season-high performance at UCLA two weeks ago. On vault and floor, that pretty much means everyone needs to make sure to go 9.825 and then Ebee gets a 10, fixing everything. It’s doable. But, as it is and always has been, through rain and shine and graduation, Stanford’s really events are bars and beam, and that’s where the winning would need to happen. I mentioned in the season previews that I was worried about Stanford on bars because there are exactly six usable bars workers on this team. Well, those six have managed to endure through the whole season, and with Price, Hong, and N McNair all able to warrant 9.9+ scores (even though it’s tougher for McNair in that first spot), bars remains a strong event that shouldn’t have to endure 9.7s of the type that have brought low vault and floor. 

Beam is pretty much the same as bars, though with several more lineup options. I also do have to credit Stanford’s smart rotation order on beam this year, putting Price and Hong in the 3rd and 4th spots. I like. Because they’re Price and Hong, they’re able to get the big totals anywhere in the lineup, pushing up the scores for Daum and Chuang in the last two spots and allowing them to get 9.9s they wouldn’t be scoring otherwise. Those 9.9s going to Daum and Chuang are a big part of why Stanford remains 49.5 capable on beam this year in spite of bleeding quite a bit of beam talent from last year’s roster that hasn’t really been replaced. 

I didn’t forget you, others! The Washington Huskies are having their best season in quite some time and are hosting the meet, which usually spells a massive performance in a championship meet. That doesn’t mean challenging for a victory, but I would not be surprised by another strong mid-196, which would be particularly valuable since Washington is another team in a seed fight, currently sitting at 17th with Stanford and Iowa lurking just behind. Since both Stanford and Iowa have higher maximums, Washington could get bumped down into the 19-36 pit-of-peasants territory regardless of performance, but a strong 196 would make it much tougher, particularly on Iowa. Iowa will have already competed by this point, so we’ll know exactly what Washington needs to do when the session begins.

Arizona is also mathematically capable of moving into that top 18, but it’s looking pretty unlikely and would require a whole heap of meltdowns from Stanford, Washington, and several others. Arizona is usually pecking around that 3rd-seed section, so Tabitha’s first season in charge has been relatively in line with what we expect from Arizona, if not breaking any molds. Although it should be noted that attendance is WAY up at this season, increasing 69% over last year, which is probably the most encouraging change we’ve seen from the new regime. It took a little while for the team to find its way, particularly adjusting to staying competitive on vault, but we’re seeing consistent 196s now. A mid-196 is a pounce score, the kind of score it takes to pounce on a better team’s mistakes at regionals, so let’s see if Arizona can turn those 196.2s into 196.6s this weekend.

And there’s Arizona State.

What a hitter.

Big Ten Championship Preview

Saturday 3/19
Morning session 12:00 ET/9:00 PT
Afternoon session 5:00 ET/2:00 PT
Championship Central

AFTERNOON SESSION
Michigan, Nebraska, Minnesota, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan State

Dating from time immemorial (so, 2012 when Nebraska joined the Big Ten), the quest for conference supremacy has been a fight between the Wolverines and the Huskers, attempting to answer the age-old question of which is better, a weird tiny skunk-bear or an ear of corn. The big two. This year, I don’t see much reason to change the world order.

That would have been an easier proclamation to make before the underwater hallucination circus that was that Big Five meet at Penn State, suddenly won by Minnesota and a bucket of cracky judging, but other than ensuring that we don’t ignore Minnesota’s 197 potential in the postseason, that meet shouldn’t really change the statuses of Michigan as favorite, Nebraska as next-best-favorite, Minnesota as also-almost-next-best-favorite, and Iowa as hey-you’re-a-team-this-year.  

In spite of losing to Nebraska earlier in the season, Michigan’s scoring potential remains the highest among the teams in this competition, and there’s a solid argument to be made that Michigan is the strongest team in the conference on all four apparatuses. At least, that’s what the rankings tell us. Really, Michigan is the top team on all four apparatuses***, and *** means AHHHBEAM. As it always does.

Three of Michigan’s last four beam scores have been under 49, each including at least two falls, and the team has not hit 6-for-6 on beam since February 14th. So that’s not ideal. Of significant concern, the falls are coming from everyone at various times, most recently their two best beamers in Artz and Chiarelli. At this point in the season, with nine or ten realistic Super Six contenders, we’re looking for any reason to doubt a team, and a month of beam falls is a reason to doubt a team. The Wolverines have still managed scores in the high 196s and low 197s with these beam mistakes, but it should take more than a 197.0 to win a major conference title in the current scoring climate, so it’s quite hard to see Michigan winning while also counting a fall. Beam is up in the fourth rotation for them, so we won’t truly know where the competition stands until then.

The positive we can draw from the high 196s-low 197s with beam falls is that if Michigan does hit five beam routines, we’ll see a mid-197, which really should be enough to sweep up the title. Michigan has a vault difficulty edge, featuring the highest score in the country in Karas, and three floor workers in Artz, Chiarelli, and Karas who should all be going 9.900+. It will be tough for the other teams in the country to match both of those assets.

Coming off two straight 197s, however, Nebraska looks the most likely team to do it, having regained the potential to challenge a hit meet from Michigan by restoring a modicum of depth in the last couple weeks. This long-awaited return to the 197 club has been marked by a sudden and somewhat unexpected influx of floor 9.9s, particularly from gymnasts who had not been floor stars in previous seasons like Breen and Laeng. The Huskers are still forced to use some backup routines they would rather not be, particularly on bars, which means a higher potential for 9.700-9.750s. Danger-zone scores. The situation on bars has been exacerbated by Jennie Laeng’s elbow injury. She’s by far their best bars worker, but in spite of returning on the other three events, she has remained out on bars, which depresses the scoring potential.

Very uncharacteristically, vault has been the weak event for the Huskers this season. Normally, Nebraska is able to rely on fantastic blocks to stick a bunch of fulls and overcome possible deficiencies on other events, but vault has lagged behind the others this season, often barely breaking 49 and putting the Huskers all the way down at 18th nationally. Nebraska begins the championship on floor and vault, so we’ll know a lot about how competitive they’ll be rather early on. If Nebraska isn’t at a good 98.600 after two rotations, I have a hard time envisioning them beating a hit meet from Michigan. But with a 98.600+, we’ve got a thing. That should be at least where Michigan is after two events (vault and bars), and with Michigan finishing on floor and Nebraska on beam, Nebraska would need a lead heading toward the end of the meet.

Minnesota, huh? This is an intensely important season for the Gophers since it’s the last stand of Lindsay Mable, Hanna Nordquist, and Maddie Hanley. Next year, we’re going to have some questions. Those questions all begin with “who.” Mable, and Nordquist’s beam, can lead Minnesota to a competitive score, and as we saw last weekend, the Gophers are capable of beating the top teams in the conference.


(This isn’t from last week. Just deal with it.)

Expecting a repeat of that victorious 197.4, particularly that 49.675 on beam, however, is unrealistic in a normal meet. More likely, Minnesota is going to be in the solid-196 hoping-to-take-advantage-of-mistakes category. Minnesota is a pretty beam team, an entertaining floor team, and can score solidly on most other events on the right day, but they probably lack the vault difficulty and bars consistency to make another huge 197 run under sober circumstances. A real bars hit for over 49.2-49.3 in the first rotation would be a signal that something’s going on.

Also keep an eye on Lindsay Mable for the conference AA title. Could be a good one between her and Karas and Artz (if everything’s OK after last week’s bizarreness).

Because of the qualification rules, we’ve ended up with a scenario where the next two strongest contenders, Iowa and Illinois, have been relegated to the morning session, while Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan State will compete in the afternoon. So a few notes on those three first.

Penn State did score 197 at the Big Five meet (at home), shattering their previous season best by nearly a point and making some marked improvements, including but not limited to hitting five beam routines in the same week. Amazing how much better the score looks when that happens. Highlights like Nicole Medvitz’s form and Kiera Brown’s bars and sudden 2016 beam resurgence (that makes Georgia want to go, “OK, just kidding…”) may lead PSU to a relatively competitive score, but challenging the top teams is highly unlikely. With regionals qualification already assured, there’s less on the line here other than setting up for a regionals-upset push by showing another hit beam and a dangerous total.

It’s a very similar story for Ohio State, just with fewer likely 9.9s, which makes that last-ditch push for a high 196 less realistic.

Michigan State also pulled out a relatively magical performance at the Big Five meet to beat the odds and get into this session, though this meet for the Spartans is not about challenging for a title or moving toward a regionals upset bid. It’s about getting to regionals. In that respect MSU’s performance is more important than that of any of these other teams. Michigan State currently sits in the dreaded 36th spot, vulnerable to being knocked out of regionals depending on how things play out on Saturday. Maryland (competing in the first session) is one of the teams looking to move ahead, so after Maryland’s performance earlier in the day, we’ll have a better sense of what Michigan State needs to score in order to advance. As of this moment, it would take a 196.250 to clinch qualification, which is a lot to expect. The Spartans finish on floor, by far their highest-scoring event, which could be a benefit if this season’s tendency toward late-meet floor extravagance in the scores continues into championships.

MORNING SESSION
Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, Rutgers

I wouldn’t totally disregard the teams in this session since Iowa and Illinois have both mustered competitive scores this year, though competitive means mid-196s (more impressive for Iowa because that’s not the expectation, while Illinois has under-performed this season). That score will not be high enough to challenge for a title, so unless one of these teams surges early with a couple 49.2+ rotations, our eyes may primarily be on Maryland’s fight to qualify.

Maryland will not determine its own destiny and will have to wait for the likes of Bowling Green, Michigan State, and Central Michigan to compete later on to see how everything shakes out, but Maryland’s final score will be the first to come in among the bubble teams and will dictate what the other teams need to score later on, giving us a more accurate estimate of the type of performance the others need. The higher it is, the harder it gets for everyone else.

Regardless of the result, this will be Rutgers’ last meet of the season, so there’s not much to say in terms of previewing the performance at championships, other than that Groden and Shank impressed at the Big Five meet. Both sophomores, that’s an encouraging base for the next couple seasons.

I’m a little surprised to see Iowa relegated to the first session as I would place the Hawkeyes as the #4 favorite to win, and a close #4 not all that far behind Minnesota. Iowa put in a tied-for-season-high showing at the Big Five, but since that was the circus meet, it wasn’t nearly good enough to make a splash. There were some OOB and landing problems on floor, and Iowa had the misfortune of starting on beam before things got really fancy later in the day. Those issues combined to shove them down the rankings. Iowa will probably have to put up too many 9.7s early in the lineups, especially on vault, to be in serious contention for a 197, but a performance well into the 196s (along with winning this session) should be the expectation.

The Hawkeyes are currently ranked 18th so will also be fighting to keep that coveted final seeded spot at regionals (allowing them to head into a regional with two other tough teams instead of possibly three). They will, however, be at the mercy of Stanford (in 19th but with a much higher maximum score). Stanford will pass Iowa with a mid 196, which really should happen given any kind of a hit meet, meaning Iowa’s most realistic path to a seeding will be to leapfrog Washington, currently in 17th. That will take a 196.575, so that’s the score to watch for Iowa.

The injury to Giana O’Connor at the Big Five meet was the cherry on top of the disappointment sundae that has been Illinois’s 2016 season, a season that began with such a promising and talented roster. Things weren’t looking too good even when O’Connor and Horth were competing, but if the team’s two best AAers are both out, Illinois’s scoring expectations probably drop down into the high-195s, low-196s zone, which isn’t competitive enough in this group. There would still be 9.9s remaining on the team from Buchanan, Kato, and Leduc on a good day, but some 9.6s would also have to jump into lineups to fill out those spots, which is untenable.

Week 10 Rankings + Final RQS Scenarios

The final weekend of the regular season has come and gone, with all its senior nights, and crying festivals, and craziest 10s you’ll ever see. We couldn’t have asked for anything more. Hanna Nordquist getting a 10 for a wobble. Nicole Artz struggling through a beam routine, ending with a fall, and still scoring 9.450. Janay Honest and McKenzie Wofford getting the same bars score. We’ll always have these memories.

This was actually one of the more normal ones.

What are you talking about? Bridget Sloan doesn’t hop on final-pass landings during her last floor routine on senior night. Shut up.

Now, we sit on the cusp of the conference championships, just one week remaining for teams to resolve their horrible RQSs and make a push for a not-horrible regionals spot. Normally at this point, I would do the temporary regionals outlook if the season ended today, but if the standings truly do end this way, it’s going to take some fancy figuring and rearranging to sort out the host placements. Based on current seeding, Alabama and Minnesota would be placed together (both hosts), Utah and Georgia would go together (both hosts), and Michigan and Iowa would go together (both hosts). So, that won’t work. Unless things dramatically resort themselves after the conference championships, be ready for the seedings to get a little weird for regionals and depart from the traditional 1/12/13, 2/11/14, 3/10/15, 4/9/16, 5/8/17, 6/7/18. 

I sort of wish they didn’t have to change because right now we have some really juicy pairings set up, like Nebraska/Arkansas fighting for a spot and Cal/Oregon State fighting for a spot. And then there’s the Stanford wildcard. Bring it on. 

Anyway, let’s get to the rankings. This week, I’ve included the maximum RQS for each team in order to provide a look at how high each team can potentially climb after the final meet. Toward the bottom, I have included the score each of the bubble teams needs to clinch a spot at regionals, if that’s possible.

Week 10 rankings
1. Oklahoma – 197.845

RQS
Road Score 1: 197.950
Road Score 2: 197.925
Road Score 3: 197.675
Road/Home Score 1: 198.075
Road/Home Score 2: 197.900
Road/Home Score 3: 197.775

Maximum RQS: 197.925

With another gigantic performance over the weekend at UCLA, Oklahoma widens its lead over Florida, but while the season-ending #1 ranking looks likely at this point, it is not yet guaranteed. The Sooners can clinch the spot with a 197.850 at Big 12s, a difficult score but one that is clearly attainable. The other entirely cosmetic but fun benchmark to watch out for is Oklahoma’s school RQS record of 197.895 (tied for second-best all time), which can be broken this year with a 197.950 at Big 12s.

The Sooners did a little lineup fiddling against UCLA with Kmieciak coming out of the six on vault, beam, and floor. It didn’t end up mattering too much in the final score, but her replacements (Jackson on beam and Marks on floor) both had errors, and their scores had to be dropped. They’re probably not routines Oklahoma will want to use when things count, putting a little more pressure on the good lineups to be present and accounted for. 

2. Florida – 197.655

RQS
Road Score 1: 197.750
Road Score 2: 197.525
Road Score 3: 197.075
Road/Home Score 1: 198.175
Road/Home Score 2: 198.050
Road/Home Score 3: 197.875

Maximum RQS: 197.875

With the senior-night scoring parade, Florida won the 198-race for the regular season, which is a thing now I guess. Florida could theoretically pass Oklahoma for the #1 national seed, but that would take at least a 198.050 at SECs coupled with Oklahoma not increasing its RQS at all. It’s possible, but not likely.

Beam was Florida’s weak event on Friday in spite of marking the team’s first 6-for-6 showing in quite a while. Peyton Ernst was out injured, putting yet more strain on a group that has been somewhat shaky lately, pretty much all except for McMurtry.

3. LSU – 197.555

RQS
Road Score 1: 197.900
Road Score 2: 197.825
Road Score 3: 196.800
Road/Home Score 1: 197.925
Road/Home Score 2: 197.825
Road/Home Score 3: 197.425

Maximum RQS: 197.780

LSU has made a late run and is suddenly within striking distance of Florida for that #2 spot. It will take at minimum 197.325 at SECs, but both teams should be eclipsing that mark quite comfortably at this point. If both teams do go big and LSU beats Florida by a couple tenths, LSU could move ahead.

Priessman returned on bars for 9.925 last weekend, shoring up a somewhat questionable lineup. There are still a couple clear 9.800s that will pale against the top teams, but it’s starting to look more competitive. In fact, the biggest question for LSU this year is once again whether beam, the team’s most enjoyable and beautiful event, is non-terrifying enough to warrant a national championship.

4. Alabama – 197.325

RQS
Road Score 1: 197.525
Road Score 2: 197.300
Road Score 3: 197.250
Road/Home Score 1: 197.550
Road/Home Score 2: 197.375
Road/Home Score 3: 197.175

Maximum RQS: 197.400

Out of action, Alabama was forced to concede a step to the other big girls, and heading into conference championships, the Tide look like a clear #3 in the SEC. But don’t sleep on Alabama. We learned that last year in pretty much the exact same scenario. And many times before that. The concern about Alabama right now is one of scoring potential. Alabama’s high is 197.550 this year, a score we’d expect both Florida and LSU to sail past at SECs. Then again, Alabama is sort of secret-weaponing it this year. Have we even seen the final lineups? Even in the last meet of the regular season, those were not the lineups that should be going out at SECs unless there are serious injury problems.

5. Utah – 197.205

RQS
Road Score 1: 197.525
Road Score 2: 197.150
Road Score 3: 197.075
Road/Home Score 1: 197.675
Road/Home Score 2: 197.150
Road/Home Score 3: 197.125

Maximum RQS: 197.325

Utah is starting to get real scores now. In the rankings, the Utes could theoretically tie Alabama and may be somewhat vulnerable to Auburn with a weak showing at Pac-12s, but by far the most likely scenario sees them hanging at #5 going into regionals. 

Unfortunately, Utah may also be entering Problemtown, USA after Stover injured her shoulder on beam in the last meet, accounting for the bizarre floor routine that followed. Her injury is not too devastating for floor especially if Partyka comes back in (and even if she doesn’t, there are workable backups), but is quite troubling for beam if she’s not able to return for the counting meets. Stover and Lee were supposed to lead beam to new heights this year, and if a postseason lineup has to be cobbled together without both of them, it will be hard to stay competitive.

6. Auburn – 197.120

RQS
Road Score 1: 197.325
Road Score 2: 197.125
Road Score 3: 196.825
Road/Home Score 1: 197.275
Road/Home Score 2: 197.200
Road/Home Score 3: 197.175

Maximum RQS: 197.220 

How exactly is Auburn doing better this year than last year? Quietly, the Tigers have squeezed out a very respectable number of 197s, but it’s hard to classify them as a Super Six favorite in spite of the current ranking. Is it just a reputation thing? Or is Auburn’s peak scoring potential lower than that of Michigan, Georgia, UCLA etc? Will Auburn’s resolute 49.3s keep pace if one of those other teams figures out what hitting is, or is this another season in which Auburn would have to rely on a mistake to get into Super Six?

7. Michigan – 197.085

RQS:
Road Score 1: 197.275
Road Score 2: 196.975
Road Score 3: 196.900
Road/Home Score 1: 197.425
Road/Home Score 2: 197.225
Road/Home Score 3: 197.050

Maximum RQS: 197.190

BEAAAMMMMMMMM. The beam virus has been making the rounds all over school, but it looks like Michigan has the brunt of it now, counting yet another fall at the Big Five meet along with a possible injury to Nicole Artz. Michigan’s beam is becoming one of those must-watch, must-cower rotations again. The good old days. The Wolverines will have a shot to move ahead of Auburn this weekend depending on what happens, but since 6 and 7 go to the same regional, that is exactly meaningless. Fighting off Georgia and UCLA will be the task.

8. Georgia – 196.990

RQS
Road Score 1: 197.125
Road Score 2: 197.025
Road Score 3: 196.775
Road/Home Score 1: 197.525
Road/Home Score 2: 197.275
Road/Home Score 3: 196.750

Maximum RQS: 197.145

BEAAAMMMMMMMM. But a positive version of that. Sort of. No one feels safe while watching Georgia on beam, but managing six hit routines over the weekend is another step, especially with a burgeoning glimmer of (dare I say) confidence brewing in Broussard and Rogers to join Box as realistic and expected hits. …? Maybe…? Georgia will have to endure the early session of SECs, which is only really a concern with respect to scores being kept down early in the day. Given what we’ve seen this year, Georgia should still be able to drop that 196.750 with another actually hit beam, even in the first session. 

9. UCLA – 196.940

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.925
Road Score 2: 196.800
Road Score 3: 196.675
Road/Home Score 1: 197.475
Road/Home Score 2: 197.200
Road/Home Score 3: 197.100

Maximum RQS: 197.100

After FLASHGATE, another fine-not-amazing score keeps UCLA smashed down in the rankings at 9th, though that 196.675 is very drop-able, so we may see a rise back up the rankings. The performance on Sunday exposed the trouble of relying heavily on beam to stay in the realm of competitiveness. It’s still beam, and people sometimes do layout stepouts to their hips.

While we may seem some teams shifting a spot or two in this top group, these nine will remain the top nine heading into regionals. Because the teams look like they’re going to have to be rearranged so much to make regionals work, the final spots may not even matter that much as they’ll end up being adjusted anyway.

The rest of the rankings get really interesting with quite a bit more potential for reshuffling. As many as five teams are still capable of finishing the season in 10th and nearly every team left in the teens still theoretically capable of snatching a #2 seed at a regional.

10. Denver – 196.645

RQS
Road Score 1: 197.050
Road Score 2: 196.350
Road Score 3: 196.325
Road/Home Score 1: 197.525
Road/Home Score 2: 196.825

Road/Home Score 3: 196.675

Maximum RQS: 196.885

11. Cal – 196.555

RQS
Road Score 1: 197.500
Road Score 2: 196.900
Road Score 3: 195.650
Road/Home Score 1: 196.825
Road/Home Score 2: 196.750
Road/Home Score 3: 196.650

Maximum RQS: 196.925 

Cal got a 197.500. I know. It’s enough to earn a spot in the evening session at Pac-12s, which in the grand tradition of scores begetting scores, could be just what Cal needs to confirm a #2 seeding. 

12. Nebraska – 196.535

RQS
Road Score 1: 197.000
Road Score 2: 196.350
Road Score 3: 196.150
Road/Home Score 1: 197.350
Road/Home Score 2: 196.775
Road/Home Score 3: 196.400

Maximum RQS: 196.725

Nebraska got a PHEW of a result in the Big Five meet in the team’s final chance to drop a nasty low road score and move toward a more realistic ranking. Healthy, this is a 197 team, and if I’m any of the other schools in this little 10-16 group, Nebraska is the team I’d most want to avoid when the final placements shake out. 

13. Arkansas – 196.505

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.700
Road Score 2: 196.200
Road Score 3: 196.150
Road/Home Score 1: 197.225
Road/Home Score 2: 196.775
Road/Home Score 3: 196.700

Maximum RQS: 196.720

14. Oregon State – 196.450

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.550
Road Score 2: 196.350
Road Score 3: 196.225
Road/Home Score 1: 196.850
Road/Home Score 2: 196.800
Road/Home Score 3: 196.325

Maximum RQS: 196.575

That max RQS is the lowest in this group, putting OSU at a disadvantage compared to the others. The Beavs can still move up, but the likes of Cal, Nebraska, and even Arkansas won’t have to be all that great at conference championships to keep Oregon State down in the rankings. The Beavs will even be vulnerable to dropping lower since several of the next teams could pass regardless of what they score.

15. Boise State – 196.425

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.425
Road Score 2: 196.425
Road Score 3: 196.400
Road/Home Score 1: 197.325
Road/Home Score 2: 196.575
Road/Home Score 3: 196.300

Maximum RQS: 196.630

Boise State finally got that huge score but suffered the inevitable plummet at the same time because of those bunched mid-196s, which were not going to remain top-ten competitive when the other schools started to counter with higher 196s and into the 197s. But, it does mean that if BSU can replicate that score at home this weekend at the Mountain Rim Central Rockies Goodwill Alliance Definitely-Not-A-Fake-Sounding-Competition Conference Cup Championship, they’ll have a better shot to move up than Oregon State.

16. Minnesota – 196.395

RQS
Road Score 1: 197.425
Road Score 2: 197.225
Road Score 3: 196.300
Road/Home Score 1: 196.200
Road/Home Score 2: 196.175
Road/Home Score 3: 196.075

Maximum RQS: 196.665

Thank crazy scoring for this sudden and relatively unexpected ranking. Minnesota looks poised to become that ever-dangerous third-seed host, even more dangerous with scoring precedent achieved both home and away. It will take a 196.350 at conference championships to guarantee Minnesota a #3 regionals seed.

17. Washington – 196.360

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.600
Road Score 2: 196.250
Road Score 3: 196.175
Road/Home Score 1: 196.650
Road/Home Score 2: 196.450 
Road/Home Score 3: 196.325

Maximum RQS: 196.425

Washington made a late run and didn’t even end up all that far away from qualifying for the evening session at Pac-12s. Hosting Pac-12s is a bit of a disadvantage in that it means those lower road scores must count and that Washington does not control its #3-seed destiny. If Iowa and Stanford nail their meets, Washington will drop into the 19-24 range regardless of performance.

18. Iowa – 196.330

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.650
Road Score 2: 196.275
Road Score 3: 196.275
Road/Home Score 1: 196.650
Road/Home Score 2: 196.375
Road/Home Score 3: 196.075

Maximum RQS: 196.445

19. Stanford – 196.305

RQS
Road Score 1: 197.400
Road Score 2: 196.650
Road Score 3: 196.250
Road/Home Score 1: 196.675
Road/Home Score 2: 196.075
Road/Home Score 3: 195.875

Maximum RQS: 196.610

Ah, the big one. Stanford left it until late obviously, and honestly all the histrionics from me and…me about this ranking may all come to nothing if Stanford manages a big performance at Pac-12s. The Cardinal could still theoretically get as high as #11, but that would require a lot of help and fortuitous falls from others. More likely is a mid-low #3 seed, resolutely pestering those 5-8 teams and making their lives miserable. At least it wouldn’t be a #4 seed, which is what will happen in Stanford has a disaster at Pac-12s. 

20. Missouri – 196.235

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.625
Road Score 2: 196.050
Road Score 3: 195.825
Road/Home Score 1: 196.650
Road/Home Score 2: 196.625
Road/Home Score 3: 196.050

Maximum RQS: 196.400

21. Arizona – 196.155

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.375
Road Score 2: 196.000
Road Score 3: 195.775
Road/Home Score 1: 196.850
Road/Home Score 2: 196.475

Road/Home Score 3: 196.150

Maximum RQS: 196.370

Here we hit the cutoff for top-3 seed contention. Stanford, Missouri, and Arizona could still potentially get in, but no one else can. This seeding range can be important because the top three seeds are drawn based on their rankings while the rest are split into groups of six and distributed “geographically,” or more accurately, “randomly.” It’s unlikely that Arizona will get up into that pack, but it’s still possible. Below this, the fate of the next eight teams is already sealed regardless of what happens this weekend. They’re going to regionals, and they’ll be sorted as 4, 5, 6 seeds.

22. Kentucky – 196.115

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.700
Road Score 2: 195.800
Road Score 3: 195.800
Road/Home Score 1: 196.650
Road/Home Score 2: 196.275
Road/Home Score 3: 196.050

Maximum RQS: 196.295

23. George Washington – 195.905

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.175
Road Score 2: 196.075
Road Score 3: 195.750
Road/Home Score 1: 196.600
Road/Home Score 2: 195.800
Road/Home Score 3: 195.725

Maximum RQS: 196.080

24. Eastern Michigan – 195.875

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.600
Road Score 2: 195.975
Road Score 3: 195.800
Road/Home Score 1: 196.250
Road/Home Score 2: 195.750
Road/Home Score 3: 195.600

Maximum RQS: 196.075

25. Illinois – 195.870

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.300
Road Score 2: 195.950
Road Score 3: 195.875
Road/Home Score 1: 196.525
Road/Home Score 2: 195.725
Road/Home Score 3: 195.500

Maximum RQS: 196.075

Sadly, seeing Mary Jane Horth and Giana O’Connor as crutch-twins after O’Connor’s injury in the Big Five meet may have sealed the season for Illinois.

26. Southern Utah – 195.840

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.275
Road Score 2: 196.000
Road Score 3: 195.250
Road/Home Score 1: 196.300
Road/Home Score 2: 195.975
Road/Home Score 3: 195.700

Maximum RQS: 196.050

27. West Virginia – 195.805

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.225
Road Score 2: 195.825
Road Score 3: 195.250
Road/Home Score 1: 196.800
Road/Home Score 2: 195.925
Road/Home Score 3: 195.800

Maximum RQS: 196.115

28. Penn State – 195.800

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.350
Road Score 2: 195.925
Road Score 3: 195.700
Road/Home Score 1: 197.125
Road/Home Score 2: 195.675
Road/Home Score 3: 195.350

Maximum RQS: 196.155

29. Ohio State – 195.765

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.350
Road Score 2: 195.975
Road Score 3: 195.275
Road/Home Score 1: 196.100
Road/Home Score 2: 195.800
Road/Home Score 3: 195.675

Maximum RQS: 195.980

This is the regionals cutoff. Everyone through Ohio State has already clinched a spot at regionals, while everyone below this line still has work to do this weekend.
————————————————————————–

30. Kent State – 195.455

RQS
Road Score 1: 195.325
Road Score 2: 195.275
Road Score 3: 194.625
Road/Home Score 1: 196.125
Road/Home Score 2: 196.050
Road/Home Score 3: 196.000

Maximum RQS: 195.755

To guarantee qualification to regionals, Kent State must score 195.050 this weekend.

31. BYU – 195.430

RQS
Road Score 1: 195.575
Road Score 2: 195.550
Road Score 3: 195.400
Road/Home Score 1: 195.750
Road/Home Score 2: 195.475
Road/Home Score 3: 195.150

Maximum RQS: 195.550

To guarantee qualification to regionals, BYU must score 195.700 this weekend.

32. New Hampshire – 195.400

RQS
Road Score 1: 195.800
Road Score 2: 195.225
Road Score 3: 195.100
Road/Home Score 1: 196.075
Road/Home Score 2: 195.550
Road/Home Score 3: 195.325

Maximum RQS: 195.595

To guarantee qualification to regionals, New Hampshire must score 195.800 this weekend.

UNH has fallen apart lately with consecutive 193s, dropping precipitously into the danger zone, which didn’t look all that likely even a month ago. Now, that 195.800 it will take to assure qualification is quite an ask.

33. NC State – 195.375

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.175
Road Score 2: 195.925
Road Score 3: 195.450
Road/Home Score 1: 195.900
Road/Home Score 2: 194.900
Road/Home Score 3: 194.700

Maximum RQS: 195.670

To guarantee qualification to regionals, NC State must score 195.525 this weekend.

Being able to drop that 194.700 puts slightly less pressure on NC State in terms of the score needed to advance, which in turn makes things more precarious for New Hampshire and BYU.

34. Utah State – 195.350

RQS
Road Score 1: 195.750
Road Score 2: 195.475
Road Score 3: 195.100
Road/Home Score 1: 196.025
Road/Home Score 2: 195.425
Road/Home Score 3: 195.000

Maximum RQS: 195.555

To guarantee qualification to regionals, Utah State must score 195.950 this weekend.

35. Central Michigan – 195.345

RQS
Road Score 1: 195.700
Road Score 2: 195.400
Road Score 3: 195.275
Road/Home Score 1: 196.125
Road/Home Score 2: 195.175
Road/Home Score 3: 195.125

Maximum RQS: 195.535

Central Michigan does not hold its own fate. Even if CMU scores a 198 this weekend, it’s still possible that they could be passed by the likes of Michigan State and Bowling Green and not be able to do anything about it. It will be a weekend of waiting to see what other teams do and hoping Michigan State and Bowling Green have meltdowns.

36. Michigan State – 195.310

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.350
Road Score 2: 195.425
Road Score 3: 195.275
Road/Home Score 1: 195.575
Road/Home Score 2: 195.175
Road/Home Score 3: 195.100

Maximum RQS: 195.560

It’s possible for Michigan State to guarantee qualification with its performance this weekend, but it would take 196.250 at Big Tens to do so, which is a tall order. More likely, Michigan State will also have to play the wait-and-see game, but depending on their performance, can make that game a lot less scary.

37. Bowling Green – 195.290

RQS
Road Score 1: 195.725
Road Score 2: 195.350
Road Score 3: 194.800
Road/Home Score 1: 196.500
Road/Home Score 2: 195.425
Road/Home Score 3: 195.150

Maximum RQS; 195.630

Bowling Green is in the same spot as Michigan State, though the score to guarantee qualification is slightly lower, a 196.050. That’s still quite a bit to expect of a Bowling Green team, however.

38. Maryland – 195.235

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.025
Road Score 2: 195.500
Road Score 3: 195.125
Road/Home Score 1: 195.500
Road/Home Score 2: 195.350

Road/Home Score 3: 194.700

Maximum RQS: 195.500

Maryland has an uphill battle to make it back to regionals this time, also forced to depend on other teams to have weak meets to go along with a solid performance of their own. It will take at minimum 195.100 for Maryland to be in with a shot, but realistically it will take a lot more than that.

39. Iowa State – 195.225

RQS
Road Score 1: 195.625
Road Score 2: 194.825
Road Score 3: 194.725
Road/Home Score 1: 196.025
Road/Home Score 2: 195.650
Road/Home Score 3: 195.300

Maximum RQS: 195.485

With a 194 last weekend, Iowa Stare suddenly plummeted out of the safe zone. Iowa State’s fate is the same as Maryland’s currently, though it would take minimum 195.175 for Iowa State to have a chance to take advantage of others’ mistakes and squeak into the top 36.

Beginning with Rutgers at #40, every other team has already been eliminated from contention for regionals.

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama