The Weekend Plans – March 4-6

Two weeks of normal competition until the conference championships. Two. The ranking and RQS situations are currently urgent, verging on EEEEEE, for more than a few teams. Plus, we have the elite world barging in this weekend. If you plan on doing things this weekend that aren’t watching gymnastics while making vaguely snarky yet harmless observations, we’re not friends.

Top 25 schedule

Friday, March 4
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [2] Florida @ [23] Kentucky
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [6] Utah @ [5] Michigan
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [8] Auburn @ [10] Georgia
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – NC State @ [21] George Washington
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [24] Eastern Michigan @ Kent State
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Nastia Liukin Nastiathon for the Nastia Cup
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – [17] Iowa @ Iowa State
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [18] Arizona @ [1] Oklahoma
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [9] Arkansas @ [14] Missouri
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – [3] Alabama @ [4] LSU
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [19] Minnesota, Air Force @ [13] Denver
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – Ball State, Seattle Pacific @ [20] Oregon State
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – Southern Utah, Michigan State, Lindenwood @ [12] Cal
Saturday, March 5
11:30 ET/8:30 PT – AT&T Cupful of Americans 
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Northern Illinois, Illinois State, Illinois-Chicago @ [22] Illinois
6:00 ET/3:00 PT – Like a Men’s Thing? With John Orozco? 
Sunday, March 6
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – Ohio State, Bowling Green @ [25] West Virginia
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – [21] George Washington, Pittsburgh, Texas Woman’s, Yale @ Maryland
3:00 ET/12:00 PT – [10] Georgia, [16] Stanford @ [7] UCLA
3:00 ET/12:00 PT – Utah State @ [15] Nebraska
3:00 ET/12:00 PT – [13] Denver, [19] Minnesota @ Air Force
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Michigan State @ [11] Boise State
Live blogging
Whew. We’ve got a Friday in front of us during which every little thing on Earth will happen. All the top 10 teams except UCLA (always gotta be different…) have overlapping meets on Friday, which is either exciting or really poorly planned. Get all 20 of your screens ready. That doesn’t even count Nastia’s Athletic Cup, which I probably won’t blog since so much NCAA action will be happening simultaneously, but I’m sure others will be all up in that business. Pink things. I already blogged it. I usually end up watching it in about October, when all the competitors are starting NCAA and I need to remember who they are. 

Utah/Michigan will be broadcast on tape delay on BTN, four hours after the actual meet, which normally would be annoying but in this case may be some built-in prioritization and scheduling. This weekend is a women’s basketball whatever, so there will be far fewer live TV meets than usual. It’s an internet weekend. Or as I call it, a weekend. 

The big deal on Saturday is American Cup. I’ll be tweeting. Obviously. Then back to blogging on Sunday for the Georgia/Stanford/UCLA threeway.

Rankings
We have a theoretical chance for movement at the top of the rankings, but just theoretical. Florida would need to score a 198.175 away at Kentucky AND Oklahoma would need to score 197.475 or lower at home against Arizona for Florida to take over the top ranking spot. Both teams are safe at 1-2 even if they do end up flip-flopping.

We could see some spot exchanges as we go down the top 10, with Utah and Michigan meeting on Friday with the higher ranking on the line and Auburn preparing to drop a fairly low road score and looking to leapfrog UCLA. #10 Georgia has the most to gain/lose this weekend with two meets, the Sunday meet away at UCLA being significantly more important. Georgia is still counting a 195.675 road score right now, and with even just a normal meet and a hit beam in both of the weekend’s endeavors, the Gymdogs will expect to zoom up, potentially as high as 7th, though a lot would need to go their way with the other teams for that actually to happen.

That UCLA Sunday meet is the most critical ranking meet of the weekend since it will also determine Stanford’s ceiling and decide whether the Cardinal are in the running for a #2 regionals seed. With a mid-196, Stanford is right in it, but with another 195, it will be exceedingly unlikely if not impossible.

Eyes on Denver as well, coming off that 197.5 and with two meets this weekend, one at home and one at almost-home against Air Force. I would honestly not be bowled over to see Denver knocking into the top 10 at the end of the weekend if Arkansas and Georgia don’t perform. 

Iowa is also looking to drop a 194.900 this weekend in a big rivalry meet against Iowa State and could move as high as #12 if things fall just right. Fall being the operative word.
 
Friday
Florida heads to Kentucky and Oklahoma hosts Arizona on Friday, and neither meet should be a mystery as to the result. The interesting thing will be the race for scores and watching the two teams comparatively as we start to anticipate the inevitable postseason battle.

More interesting will be Utah/Michigan, Auburn/Georgia, and Alabama/LSU. For Michigan and Utah, there’s not a ton to differentiate the teams and no event where either looks like blowing the opposition away. Michigan probably gets the edge, primarily because of higher scoring potential on vault and beam, and bigger floor tumbling that will also enjoy the benefit of being at home. Michigan has a tad more difficulty on vault and the Karas 1.5 that can score a 9.950, which Utah hasn’t done for any vault this year. Similarly, we’ve seen beam routines from Chiarelli, Artz, or Marinez get occasionally huge numbers, while Utah has Stover to match that but otherwise will probably get stuck in the 9.850s.

On the other hand, Michigan has looked uncomfortable on beam the last couple weeks, so taking advantage of that edge is not remotely a given. Utah’s path to victory would be built on stuck landings. It’s something that Utah is usually known for, especially on bars (which could make that an asset event for the Utes in this meet), and is something that will need to start developing now that it’s March. If Utah can stick more on vault and take the difficulty edge away from Michigan, it becomes much easier to see the Utes winning.

Auburn heads to Georgia as part of Battle Evening Session as the knock-down, drag-out fight to get into the big-girl session at SECs steers toward a conclusion. That’s part of why the meet is more important for Georgia. It’s also important symbolically for the Gymdogs because they should be better. You put those two rosters next to each other, and you’d pick Georgia’s to be ranked higher any day. Now, the fact that it isn’t can be attributed almost entirely to beam, but note that Auburn is also ranked higher on floor and very close to Georgia on bars. Beyond beam, Georgia needs to take advantage of more difficulty and quality on vault to build up a lead, while Auburn needs to stick the crap out of those fabulous bars DLOs to close that small gap with Georgia and mitigate the possible 9.9s coming from Rogers and Jay.

But for Auburn, so much is about Atkinson. She went 39.6 in two of the last three meets, and Auburn won both of those meets (against Alabama and Missouri), recording the team’s two highest scores of the season. Look how that happened.

Alabama/LSU is the highest profile of the three meets featuring two top-four teams and will be a grind. We all know winning meets at LSU is a challenge, but this meet is critical for Alabama from a psychological perspective if not as much from an RQS perspective. Alabama has been excellent this year, but also kind of…uh…losing. Losses to Florida, UCLA, Auburn, and Arkansas have sullied the season and sullied the record for a team that really shouldn’t be losing four times in a season regardless of the strength of the opposition. This is Alabama’s final meet before SECs, and five losses (four in conference) would not be the most auspicious note on which to head out.

LSU’s ceiling has been higher this season, with a 197.9 and a 197.8, while Alabama has peaked at the 197.5s. That, coupled with competing at home, is enough to make LSU the favorite in spite of the lower ranking. Still, there’s little to choose from between these teams. They’re both potentially phenomenal on beam, and they both have more than enough 9.9s in them on floor. Although, Alabama’s floor is the lineup to watch in this meet because it needs to settle down. To have a shot at keeping relative pace with LSU, Alabama needs to dispense with the depth exploration and bring out all the big guns, which right now are Beers, Winston, Jetter, and hopefully Carley Sims, though only if she’s BACK back, which she wasn’t in her return last week. Beyond them…I don’t even know at this point but the team has way too many big tumblers to accept 9.825s on floor.

We’ll know a lot after the beginning of the meet because while both teams have difficult vaults, LSU’s landings have been more consistent and better scoring, while Alabama’s sudden ability on bars to 9.975 you to death with concentrated Kiana Winston has turned that into a seriously important event. Which one comes through?

Sunday
I’ve talked about the ranking picture for what will inevitably be known as the UCLA/Georgia/Stanford incident, but there’s also the matter of…who’s even going to win this meet? In sentences you don’t normally hear, UCLA has been the most consistent this year. At home, this is the Bruins’ to lose and would be a crucial milestone in a season that has been fine and solid but not memorable or overwhelming as yet. At this point, I think we can expect UCLA to win beam and floor, especially if Francis and Cipra are back after their little rests last week. The question for the Bruins will be how vault and bars stack up against a Georgia team that has much more difficulty and quality on vault and a Stanford team that has the highest-quality bars work of the three teams. UCLA can pick up a bunch of tenths in the second half of the meet, but UCLA is clearly the weakest on bars. If we’re seeing 48s on vault and bars again, that leaves the door open for Georgia and, more importantly, is not remotely OK for March regardless of how it stacks up against the others in this particular meet. 

Stanford has struggled enough on floor this year that it’s hard to see a victory without relying on both of the other two counting falls (a very real prospect), but Georgia’s peak score is actually higher than UCLA’s this year, so if beam does come together, you never know.  

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Week 8 Rankings + RQS Update

This was really another week for the 9.975 as those continued to sprout up all like weeds, but we did see a few full 10s thrown out as well, one for Lauren Beers for sticking her Y1.5, and another for Nina McGee for doing Nina McGee things on floor.


“Don’t lean, don’t lean, don’t lean, don’t lean.” She had to adjust that stick a little bit.

We’re also closing in on regionals, with most teams two meets and a conference championship away from finalizing RQS, so it’s worth looking at how the regional placements would pan out if the season ended today. And by worth it, I mean fun. For me.

Just to review, regional placements are made using a traditional No Damn Sense seeding process, whereby seeds 1/12/13 go together, as do 2/11/14, 3/10/15, 4/9/16, 5/8/17, and 6/7/18. The 19-36 teams are then placed into pots of 8 and allocated by region as much as possible (usually not very possible). With two teams advancing from each regional, that means the top seed receives the most difficult challenger (#13), and the 6th/7th seeds receive the easiest challenger (#18), often making #6 and #7 the ideal ranking places at which to finish the season. Why yes, that is stupid. Welcome. You’ll like it here.

The regional hosts this year are Georgia, Utah, Alabama, Michigan, Minnesota, and Iowa, which means if we placed teams in their normal seeding spots right now, we would have host conflicts with Alabama and Georgia ending up in the same one, and Michigan and Iowa ending up in the same one. When that happens, the placements are adjusted slightly, usually one spot, to avoid the conflict, so I’ve done that in the prospective placement below, flip-flopping Georgia with Boise State and Iowa with Stanford, which is the path of least resistance to get everything to work out. This will obviously change in the coming weeks, but it’s a sense of how things could look. There are some juicy matchup possibilities to get excited about.    

Regional 1: [1] Oklahoma, [12] Cal, [13] Denver, (Minnesota host)
Regional 2: [2] Florida, [10] Georgia (host), [14] Missouri
Regional 3: [3] Alabama (host), [11] Boise State, [15] Nebraska
Regional 4: [4] LSU, [9] Arkansas, [17] Iowa (host)
Regional 5: [5] Michigan (host), [8] Auburn, [16] Stanford
Regional 6: [6] Utah (host), [7] UCLA, [18] Arizona

Note that Oregon State currently sits at #20. Imagine if Utah, UCLA, Arizona, and Oregon State all got the same regional. Pac-12 bloodbath.

Week 8 rankings
1. Oklahoma – 197.705

RQS
Road Score 1: 197.925
Road Score 2: 197.675
Road Score 3: 197.550
Road/Home Score 1: 198.075
Road/Home Score 2: 197.900
Road/Home Score 3: 197.475

Oklahoma broke 198 and recorded another season high over the weekend on the quest to beat last season’s program-record 197.895 RQS. Still a few mid-197s to drop to make that happen. The Sooners did lose the #1 vault ranking to LSU this week, and while still great, that is an area where the landings will need to come into line as we get closer to things mattering. Even in this week’s 198, it was a hop-fest until Ali Jackson saved the earth with her stuck 1.5. We also saw a huge discrepancy in Oklahoma’s floor scores at home this week compared to away at Georgia last week. Now, the performance was also clearly better this week, but the postseason truth is going to be somewhere in between. It will be interesting to watch those floor scores @ UCLA in a couple weeks, because it’s an away meet but also one known for getting a little fancy with the floor scores. It still should let us know how much of a 9.9 fest that floor rotation could be in April.

2. Florida – 197.440

RQS
Road Score 1: 197.750
Road Score 2: 197.075
Road Score 3: 196.825
Road/Home Score 1: 198.175
Road/Home Score 2: 197.875
Road/Home Score 3: 197.675

Florida will view losing to LSU at home as distinctly not cool in spite of the glitter-factory of 9.9s, largely a function of Sloan having another bad meet with a fall on beam and an OOB on floor. She has been through patches like this in her NCAA career before, two seasons ago suffering a streak of beam misses in the postseason until she put up probably her best ever in Super Six. If Sloan hits 4-for-4 last Friday, Florida wins that meet and passes 198 in the process. The positive development was the introduction of McMurtry on floor, silly score notwithstanding. Floor had been the biggest question for the Gators, and if she’s able to go consistently when it matters, that lineup becomes much more competitive and much less at the mercy of the depth monster.

3. 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

197.550 is the highest score of the season so far for Alabama, in spite of the performance honestly being just OK. That’s an encouraging sign for the team’s ultimate scoring potential, though when we balance some heavy senior-night scoring like for Beers (particularly on floor) with a beam rotation far below the team’s capability, the score ends up being pretty representative of where Alabama is right now. There’s just one meet left before SECs, so we’re getting to now-or-never in terms of who’s actually in these lineups. How many events is Winston doing/able to do? She probably should be AAing. Alabama’s scores are very tightly bunched, so there’s no chance to pass Florida at the moment, but given the stupidity of the placement system, who even cares really?

Also note that Kiana Winston did two events and got 9.975 on both. Lauren Beers did two events and got 10.000 and 9.975.

4. LSU – 197.150

RQS
Road Score 1: 197.900
Road Score 2: 196.800
Road Score 3: 196.750
Road/Home Score 1: 197.825
Road/Home Score 2: 197.425
Road/Home Score 3: 196.950

LSU needed a big road score this week, and boy did that happen with a 197.900. Oh, going to Florida. The Tigers picked up two full points in RQS total (so 0.400 in RQS average), skyrocketing to a much more appropriate ranking for their quality. This team certainly should be breaking 197 every meet now, so we can expect a continued RQS ascent as these 196s are dropped. It will be tough for LSU to pass Alabama this week, but it is possible. Encouragingly, beam is starting to pull itself together and look how LSU beam is supposed to look in 2016, while in spite of scoring close to a season-high on bars, the lack of easy 9.9s there remains the primary sticking point.

5. Michigan – 197.065

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 3:196.950

Michigan drops a place this week but maintains relative pace after recording a crucial road high at Oklahoma. It was not an ideal performance, with Artz having a meh by her standards and beam looking tight, tight, tight following last week’s meltdown (but five hits are five hits). Michigan is still theoretically capable of passing LSU this coming weekend with a season high, but LSU’s bold scores are significantly higher than Michigan’s so finishing the regular season higher than 5th looks unlikely at this point. But at this point in the season, 197.275 for a 7/10 meet is where Michigan should be.

6. Utah – 197.020

RQS
Road Score 1: 197.150
Road Score 2: 197.075
Road Score 3: 197.025
Road/Home Score 1: 197.150
Road/Home Score 2: 197.125
Road/Home Score 3: 196.725

Five straight weeks scoring between 197.025 and 197.150. Consistency! Utah will be in the race to pass Michigan following this Friday’s meeting between the two teams, but because the Utes’ scores are also tightly bunched, it will be difficult to move higher before regionals unless the scores really start exploding immediately. Being relatively undermanned at Cal over the weekend, Utah will take that performance, but it was still a little too one-9.9-per-event to make the Utes look like a sure Super Six team. Utah needs a breakout score, and I think most of us are expecting that meet to be March 12th at home against Georgia.

7. UCLA – 196.825

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: 197.100
Road/Home Score 3: 196.625

UCLA has fallen into a 196.6 rut, scores that aren’t going to threaten anyone. Given the lineups this weekend, without the use of Francis, Peng, and Cipra, and with Ohashi on just one event, an average score had to be expected. It was like Depth Exploration Episode II and is therefore not a great indicator of where the team really is, though it did serve to illuminate that the vault lineup is Code Blue. It’s not like there were auto-9.9s resting this week who are going to bring the score up. We should still expect much better at next week’s tri-meet against Georgia and Stanford, though the Bruins will not be able to move up any higher in the rankings, now suddenly having to worry about Auburn as well.  

8. Auburn – 196.720

RQS
Road Score 1: 197.125
Road Score 2: 196.825
Road Score 3: 196.175
Road/Home Score 1: 197.275
Road/Home Score 2: 197.200
Road/Home Score 3: 196.275

The second Engler and Phillips got injured, Auburn turned good. Sorry, ladies. The team is still not reaching the level of last year’s squad, particularly with a beam rotation that’s devastatingly Walker-less and a vault rotation without depth or margin for error (Abby Milliet time?), but at this point the Tigers are once again setting themselves up as the most realistic spoiler choice if one of the big names has a meltdown. With a 196.175 road score still to get rid of, and heading to Georgia this Friday, Auburn can increase RQS pretty significantly and will be looking at UCLA like Sylvester at Tweety.

9. Arkansas – 196.460

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.700
Road Score 2: 196.150
Road Score 3: 196.150
Road/Home Score 1: 197.225
Road/Home Score 2: 196.700
Road/Home Score 3: 196.600

Arkansas broke the all-important 197 barrier at home over the weekend when Wellick finally started getting her 9.9s, as did everyone else. Suddenly. Look how that worked out. The Razorbacks head to Missouri this weekend, so there’s every reason to expect another big score given what we’ve seen so far this year. The margin between Arkansas and Auburn is too great to overcome in one week, but to have any chance, one of those 196.150s needs to be obliterated by a point. Auburn is starting to pull away in the race for the evening session at SECs, but it’s not quite over yet.

10. Georgia – 196.375

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.775
Road Score 2: 196.275
Road Score 3: 195.675
Road/Home Score 1: 197.525
Road/Home Score 2: 196.750
Road/Home Score 3: 196.400 

The worst part is that the Gymdogs counted falls on both bars and beam to score a 195.675 this weekend, and their RQS went up. Because that was still better than the score they were previously counting. I’m hoping we can ignore the bars issue as a one-off thing. Rogers does have a high-risk routine, so falls will happen occasionally, but Vaculik’s mistake was weird, and I wouldn’t expect it to be repeated. On beam, there’s nothing new to say. Falls, fall, falls. Falls that overshadow the fact that progress is being made, with Babalis and Rogers both showing their best beam routines of the season. But there’s no consistency in progress or performance, so do we expect Babalis and Rogers to continue on that path this next week? Not at all.

It’s a huge weekend for Georgia, home against Auburn on Friday and then away to UCLA on Sunday, because why are you doing that to yourselves? Extra meets give Georgia more chances to break the cycle, but if they can’t emerge from this weekend as the 197 team we saw that glimpse of once, will it ever happen?

11. Boise State – 196.330

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.425
Road Score 2: 196.425
Road Score 3: 196.400
Road/Home Score 1: 196.300
Road/Home Score 2: 196.275
Road/Home Score 3: 196.250

If you count a fall at regionals, Boise State will beat you.

12. Cal – 196.235

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.900
Road Score 2: 195.650
Road Score 3: 195.575
Road/Home Score 1: 196.825
Road/Home Score 2: 196.750
Road/Home Score 3: 196.375

These are some serious scores, and this is the most evenly competitive team Cal has ever put together. My biggest takeaway from the meet against Utah was the absence of any weak links. No one is filling out lineups with a 9.725 that everyone wants to drop. Cal’s postseason viability, however, will be determined by the final two meets before regionals, away at Sac State and then Pac-12 champs, both because of the need to drop those 195s to maintain this relative ranking position and because of the need to prove that these high 196s with 9.800-9.825 base scores aren’t just a home thing or a “compared to Arizona State” thing.

Do we know what’s going to happen with Toni-Ann and the test event if Cal actually makes nationals?

13. Denver – 196.210

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.350
Road Score 2: 196.125
Road Score 3: 196.000
Road/Home Score 1: 197.525
Road/Home Score 2: 196.675

Road/Home Score 3: 195.900

197.525. Yeah. I know. And that wasn’t even senior night. Places your bets on how many 10s Nina McGee gets on Friday.

14. Missouri – 196.185

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: 195.800

15. Nebraska – 196.070

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.350
Road Score 2: 196.150
Road Score 3: 195.350
Road/Home Score 1: 196.775
Road/Home Score 2: 196.400
Road/Home Score 3: 196.100

Lo, we arrive at the most interesting portion of the rankings right now. It’s always fun to watch how things play out at the top, but whether a team finishes #3 or #5 doesn’t really matter all the much. What matters the most when it comes to regionals is where the likes of Nebraska and Stanford finish and who gets stuck with them. It’s no longer a sure thing that they’ll move up, meaning we’re going to have a lot of nervous #2 teams as we get down to it. 

Nebraska went full Nebraska and had just seven gymnasts over the weekend, one again using just five on vault and floor. There are some big potential scores on this team from Blanske, Williams, Lambert when she’s healthy (never), and now Breen who has emerged as a vital AAer this season. Right now, the lack of depth of scores makes it hard to pick Nebraska to make regionals, but get Lambert back on vault and floor and get Laeng back from her elbow injury at just the right time, and this becomes a 197 team.

16. Stanford – 196.045

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.650
Road Score 2: 196.075
Road Score 3: 195.875
Road/Home Score 1: 196.675
Road/Home Score 2: 195.875
Road/Home Score 3: 195.750

Stanford dropped spots because this week’s meet is not until tonight, but unless tonight is a big score and ushers in a conversion to Postseason Stanford, two good teams are going to get stuck with Stanford at a regional.

17. Iowa – 195.980

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.275
Road Score 2: 196.275
Road Score 3: 196.075
Road/Home Score 1: 196.650
Road/Home Score 2: 196.375
Road/Home Score 3: 194.900

Iowa heads to Iowa State on Friday, and with a season high, would be able to drop that 194.900 like no one’s business to reach an RQS of 196.330. That’s where Boise State currently sits in 11th. This year’s mid-196 threats are many and frequent.

18. Arizona – 195.895

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.375
Road Score 2: 196.000
Road Score 3: 194.850
Road/Home Score 1: 196.475
Road/Home Score 2: 196.150

Road/Home Score 3: 196.100

The race for the evening session at Pac-12s is suddenly a thing, with Arizona finally dropping some nasty road scores and temporarily jumping ahead of Oregon State. Like Iowa, Arizona still has a nasty score to get rid of, so we could see another jump, perhaps even to challenge Stanford if things don’t go well tonight. Stanford/Oregon State tonight has serious Pac-12 Champs implications.

19. Minnesota – 195.850

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.300
Road Score 2: 196.075
Road Score 3: 195.525
Road/Home Score 1: 196.200
Road/Home Score 2: 195.775
Road/Home Score 3: 195.675

20. Oregon State – 195.840

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.350
Road Score 2: 196.225
Road Score 3: 195.325
Road/Home Score 1: 196.850
Road/Home Score 2: 195.875
Road/Home Score 3: 195.425

With an extra meet left, tonight’s performance for Oregon State is not quite as urgent as it is for Stanford, but it’s about to be March, and those are still three 195s, and this ranking is still #20.

21. George Washington – 195.765

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: 195.425
Road/Home Score 3: 195.400

George Washington is coming off a two-meet weekend that went 1-for-2. Counting an 8.9 on bars took away the score on Friday, but then GWU came home on Sunday and learned what it feels like to experience the warm glowing glow of attention and mid-196s.

22. Illinois – 195.710

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.300
Road Score 2: 195.875
Road Score 3: 195.725
Road/Home Score 1: 196.525
Road/Home Score 2: 195.500
Road/Home Score 3: 195.150

It’s getting better. Three highest scores of the season in the last three meets, but it may be too late to save the ranking.

23. Kentucky – 195.670

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.700
Road Score 2: 195.800
Road Score 3: 195.800
Road/Home Score 1:196.050
Road/Home Score 2: 195.525
Road/Home Score 3: 195.175
 
24. Eastern Michigan – 195.635

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.600
Road Score 2: 195.975
Road Score 3: 195.800
Road/Home Score 1: 195.750
Road/Home Score 2: 195.600
Road/Home Score 3: 195.050

25. West Virginia – 195.540

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.225
Road Score 2: 195.250
Road Score 3: 195.250
Road/Home Score 1: 195.800
Road/Home Score 2: 195.800
Road/Home Score 3: 195.600

Saturday Live Blog – Utah @ Cal; Arizona State @ UCLA

Saturday, February 27

3:00 ET/12:00 PT – Southern Utah @ BYU – SCORESStream

4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Utah @ Cal – SCORESPac-12

4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Arizona State @ UCLA – SCORESPac-12 (Arizona/LA)
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Eastern Michigan, Pittsburgh @ Ohio State – SCORESStream($)
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Winona State, Gustavus Adolphus, Hamline @ Minnesota – SCORESBTN($)
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – UW-La Crosse @ UW-Whitewater – Stream
6:00 ET/3:00 PT – Washington @ Arizona – SCORESStream
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Sacramento State, Bridgeport, Northern Illinois @ Nebraska – SCORES
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Centenary @ Texas Woman’s – SCORESStream
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Iowa, SEMO, Illinois-Chicago @ Denver – SCORES
Pac-12 day! Scoring should be interesting. SEC scoring went on a bender last night, particularly in the Florida meet, highlighted by that time one judge gave McMurtry a 9.950 for a Yfull that she didn’t stick.
Handy reference guide:
Now, SEC scoring has the biggest reputation, but it’s not like scoring at these Pac-12 venues has been the epitome of temperance and modesty, this season or historically, so keep an eye on what happens comparatively. We all recall the flood of 9.950s UCLA has received on home floor this year.

Continue reading Saturday Live Blog – Utah @ Cal; Arizona State @ UCLA

Friday Live Blog – LSU @ Florida; Michigan @ Oklahoma; Georgia @ Alabama

Friday, February 26

5:00 ET/2:00 PT – West Virginia, Penn State, Temple, West Chester, S. Connecticut (@ Philadelphia, PA) – SCORESish
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – LSU @ Florida – SCORESSECN
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – George Washington, NC State, William & Mary @ Towson – SCORESStream
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Rutgers @ North Carolina – SCORES
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – Maryland @ New Hampshire – SCORES
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – UW-Oshkosh @ UW-Eau Claire
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Michigan @ Oklahoma – SCORES – TV: Various Fox Sports
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Missouri @ Auburn – SCORESSECN
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Kentucky @ Arkansas – SECN
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Iowa State @ Illinois – SCORES
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – SEMO @ Air Force – Stream
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – Georgia @ Alabama – SCORESSECN
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Boise State @ Utah State – SCORESStream
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – San Jose State, Alaska @ Seattle Pacific – SCORESStream
The big day! Eight of the top ten teams are in action, most of them against each other. We’re late enough in the regular season now for this to feel like the first postseason preview, where we’ll get a borderline realistic sense of how these matchups might go come April. Of course, with a number of big SEC duels and many of the top teams competing at home, we’re going to have to conduct a 10.0 pool. Pick five people competing today whom you think will get a 10 from at least one judge, and the winner gets the grand prize of self-righteously rolling your eyes to the next galaxy while going, “I can’t even…”
I’ll go with Sloan FX, McMurtry UB, Wofford UB, Gnat VT, and…Rogers UB.

It will all get started at 7:00 ET/4:00 PT with Florida and LSU.

Continue reading Friday Live Blog – LSU @ Florida; Michigan @ Oklahoma; Georgia @ Alabama

The Weekend Plans – February 26-29

Before we get into the schedule and weekend preview, a few notes on the development of the week, Jess’s fantabulous interview with McKayla Maroney and a metric ton of pillows in which Maroney announced her don’t-call-it-a-retirement, which she will be expressing by retiring. In case you’ve been living under a rock on Pluto, here it is.

Obviously, I’m obsessed with it. The biggest news here is her discussion of AOGC and Artur and Galina, and I love that she had the giant steel ovaries to say exactly what was wrong about their treatment of her and exactly what is wrong about the treatment of the livestock athletes through the camps and tours. Not being allowed to smile or look at people? Horrible. All the athletes feeling afraid to eat at the ranch? Horrible. Not having her injuries taken seriously? Horrible. We have a tendency to gloss over terrible treatment of gymnasts with a “the kind of stuff that happened in the 80s and 90s” nonchalance, but clearly it’s still happening. Your move, USAG.

But also, getting in trouble for doing Yurchenko double backs at the ranch? Awesome.

Top 25 schedule

Friday, February 26
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – [23] West Virginia, Penn State, Temple, West Chester, S. Connecticut (@ Philadelphia, PA)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [7] LSU @ [2] Florida
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [20] George Washington, NC State, William & Mary @ Towson
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [4] Michigan @ [1] Oklahoma
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [16] Missouri @ [8] Auburn
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [22] Kentucky @ [9] Arkansas
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Iowa State @ [24] Illinois
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – [10] Georgia @ [3] Alabama
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [11] Boise State @ Utah State
Saturday, February 27
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – [5] Utah @ [14] Cal
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Arizona State @ [6] UCLA
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – [21] Eastern Michigan, Pittsburgh @ Ohio State
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Winona State, Gustavus Adolphus, Hamline @ [19] Minnesota
6:00 ET/3:00 PT – Washington @ [25] Arizona
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Sacramento State, Bridgeport, Northern Illinois @ [14] Nebraska
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [18] Iowa, SEMO, Illinois-Chicago @ [13] Denver 
Sunday, February 28
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – Maryland, Towson @ [20] George Washington
3:00 ET/12:00 PT – [24] Illinois @ Lindenwood 
Monday, February 29
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – [12] Stanford @ [17] Oregon State
Live blogging
Friday is one of the biggest days of the regular season, perhaps the biggest, featuring three significant top-10 match-ups, so I’ll be all over it. Then, on Saturday, we have some simultaneous Pac-12 action. (Planning…) Utah/Cal is on the main Pac-12 Network and UCLA/ASU is just on the regional LA version of the network. I’ll be watching both simultaneously and commenting back and forth as usual, but let me know in the comments if you guys have a preference as to which one I focus on with the live blogging. 
Rankings
Expect things at the very top to remain steady this week with many of the top teams competing at home and unable to drop their nasty road scores. Oklahoma at #1, Florida at #2, and Alabama at #3 are all guaranteed to retain those positions after this weekend. Beyond that, things get a little interesting with the next four teams, Michigan, Utah, UCLA, and LSU, who are capable of ending the weekend in really any order. With those 196.9s, Michigan has been safe at the top since the season began, but now the Wolverines are a little vulnerable to all other teams that are matching their couple mid-197s and high 196s. Pay particular attention to LSU in 7th. With a 195.825 road score to drop on this visit to Florida, the Tigers look very likely to zoom way up.

While those four may change order, the current top 7 are guaranteed to remain the top 7 for another week. Georgia has a road 195.350 to drop and can close the gap significantly, and do so even with another 4/6 beam rotation, but getting this Georgia team ranked where it should be is going to be a multi-week process. Still, with even just a 196.100, Georgia would be guaranteed to jump ahead of Arkansas for 9th.

Stanford doesn’t compete until Monday night, so it’s quite possible in the new rankings that we could see the Cardinal dropped by the likes of Denver, Nebraska, and Cal, making Monday’s meet for Stanford all the more important to avoid a yucky ranking. There’s no more margin for error. One more bad meet, and Stanford is counting a 195 for RQS. The score on Monday is similarly critical for Oregon State, the #17 team that could theoretically move as high as #12 and pass Stanford if everything falls just right.

Friday
Big fat showdown #1: LSU @ Florida
LSU will be itching for the upset here, and while Florida is ranked significantly higher at present, there’s not all that much between the teams. Florida is the pick because of the nature of scoring in Florida and the way we all know floor is going to go, but Florida Scoring is usually a boon for both teams and one that LSU can take advantage of as well, at least to some degree. Regardless of the result, this is a massive opportunity for a road score that LSU cannot let slide.

These teams are pretty evenly matched in many categories. Slight edges here and there. Vault probably goes to Florida very slightly for having the big four of Sloan, Boren, Baker, and McMurtry, even though Gnat’s DTY is the most likely to go 9.950+. Similarly on floor, LSU has the more difficult and complete lineup especially with the return of Savona, but we can expect that to be mitigated by home-floor advantage. 

Florida’s real path to victory goes through bars. It’s the one event where Florida has a clear edge and is categorically stronger than LSU, with potential 9.950s from Sloan, Caquatto, and…McMurtry…that LSU can really only match by Finnegan having one of her great ones. Florida can realistically gain multiple tenths because of bars, which would be decisive in an even battle like this. The closer LSU keeps it on bars, the better things will look for the Tigers because they’re at least in with a shot of showing stronger routines on the other three.

Big fat showdown #2: Michigan @ Oklahoma
This is an important meet for Michigan. The Wolverines have faced a couple strong teams this year, but the January meet against Georgia was one of Georgia’s meltdowns, so it’s not a tremendous indicator. This will be Michigan’s first match-up with a team that actually looks Super Sixy, and while Oklahoma should win, this is an opportunity for Michigan to restore consumer confidence in that beam rotation and prove that there isn’t a significant quality gap between them and the #1 team. That would go a long way toward making Michigan a more comfortable Super Six pick rather than a borderliner/possible repeat of last season.

With a hit meet, Michigan is certainly capable of taking advantage of any Oklahoma error and changing the script, but Oklahoma has an increased level of precision across pretty much all the events (ranked #1 on every single piece) marked so far by crisper split elements and landings. Michigan will be looking at perhaps floor difficulty and amplitude as a place to show an advantage, but the meet is primarily in Oklahoma’s hands.

Big fat showdown #3: Georgia @ Alabama
Ah, the original showdown. It’s not the same as it used to be, when it was the SARAH AND SUZANNE RUMBLE instead of the How Many Ns Are In Dana Cup, but this should still be an entertaining and worthwhile clash. Of course, it’s hard to make any prognostication beyond Georgia beam because of Georgia beam. The Gymdogs had a relapse last weekend and absolutely must get back on the wagon. Away against Alabama is not exactly the easiest place to do that. I’m interested to see what happens with Georgia’s lineup this time, particularly with Babalis. She has competed in every meet but has reached 9.8 just twice in eight attempts, which normally would be cause to pull someone from the lineup, but the available replacements like Schick and Cherrey haven’t been better. Is the current six just the six, sink or swim, or is it still worth mixing and matching to see if there’s something better.

If Georgia does hit beam, we’ve got ourselves a serious meet. In total across the other three events, Georgia trails Alabama by just .037 on season average and not all that much more on RQS. There hasn’t been much to differentiate between them on the other pieces. They have equivalent difficulty on vault, though Jay has been the most reliable 9.900+ on either team this year, while Alabama proved at last week’s meet that any bars discrepancy may be fading, especially if Winston and Brannan keep pulling out 9.975s. On floor, Alabama should be stronger with more and bigger options (and at home), but a tendency to get stuck in the 9.850s has blunted some of that advantage in multiple meets this year. So in all, even if Georgia actually hits beam, it may still come down to beam as the biggest method of differentiation between the two sides. If Alabama actually gets the 9.9s that workers like Sims, Winston, and Guerrero are more than capable of, even a hit from Georgia may not be enough.

Saturday
The Pac-12 takes over on Saturday, and while the result of UCLA/Arizona State is not in doubt, there are still a couple interesting things to watch there. Bizarrely, Arizona State has managed the feat of looking better than last year while doing worse. At this point last season, ASU had three 194s and a 195. This year, it’s two 194s. It’s always something, usually involving counting an 8 on bars. I’m not convinced this is a regionals team yet, but Dr. Rene Lyst’s squad is better than #46.

UCLA is still ranked #6 and still doing fine, but last week’s absence of not only the broken-sternum twins, Ohashi and Mossett, but also Peng and some of Meraz made the team the team pretty flat and threadbare, especially on the events that were already issues, vault and bars. The remaining stars got the essential 9.9s to save the score, but the lack of Ohashi beginning to wear. She’s supposed to be on the way back and is a possibility for this weekend, and none too soon. This team is already without Toronjo this year and absorbing a limited Peng and would absolutely not be able to withstand missing Ohashi when things start to matter.

The Utes head to Cal this weekend somewhat reeling themselves with Delaney out and Partyka limited. That’s going to put some serious pressure on the vault and beam lineups in particular where yet more backups will be expected to nail routines. It’s not going to be a postseason-lineup Utah, but it’s still a Utah capable of a useful score at a point when low 197s are becoming the norm. It’s time to break out for a higher number, and that should still be the mission even with a somewhat depleted group. On the other side, which Cal shows up, Good Cal or Bad Cal? Toni-Ann 9.950 on floor Cal, or What’s A Beam Cal? The showing last week against Oregon State was flat, sloppy, and did not reflect the team of high 196s that entered that arena. Like Michigan and Georgia, Cal is under a microscope after those mistakes to see whether this next showing can become a recovery meet.

Week 7 Rankings + RQS Update

RQS has officially taken over, which means the rankings look quite different than they did last week when they were based on average, but not too different from what we saw in last week’s RQS primer. Florida got a vital away score, LSU is ranked artificially low because of a nasty away score that’s still hanging around, and a number of teams bumped up their RQS totals by dropping ugly scores yet didn’t quite get the boost they would have hoped. Enjoy!

Also, I go on a little mid-ranking rant about hypersensitivity! So that’s fun. Enjoy turning on me. 

Ashleigh Gnat got a 10 on floor this week, adding to her nation-leading total of three. Other than that, it was once again a week of 9.975s, with Winston and Brannan going back-to-back for Alabama on bars, Sloan getting one on floor, and Stover reaching the mark on beam. Among others?

Also, Kyla retired from elite today. So that’s suddenly big news. I should probably have something to say about that. It sounds like the smart decision since Rio was looking less and less and less likely with the passing months. Now, she’ll avoid putting her body through the ringer of a Trials process and heal up as much as possible for a UCLA team that desperately needs someone without a case of elite-injured-forever. 

Week 7 rankings
1. Oklahoma – 197.595

RQS
Road Score 1: 197.925
Road Score 2: 197.675
Road Score 3: 197.550
Road/Home Score 1: 197.900
Road/Home Score 2: 197.475
Road/Home Score 3: 197.375

The Sooners scores a relatively paltry 197.375 at Georgia over the weekend. Slackers. That counts as bad for Oklahoma, a result of a couple missed vault landings and suddenly strictly judged floor routines. You can certainly justify the scores that were given to those floor performances, but the argument that those scores were out of step with the rest of the meet and the general looseness of floor scoring this season is a valid one. The consequence of that garbage shame of a 197.375 is that what used to be a nearly 0.500 RQS advantage over Florida has shrunk to just about 0.250. It’s still comfortable, but no longer dominant, and Florida will view the #1 ranking as much more attainable now.

2. Florida – 197.355

RQS
Road Score 1: 197.750
Road Score 2: 197.075
Road Score 3: 196.825
Road/Home Score 1: 198.175
Road/Home Score 2: 197.675
Road/Home Score 3: 197.450

Much of last week, I spoke about how important it was for Florida to get a huge away score over the weekend to close that gap with Oklahoma, and that’s exactly what Florida did. Now, we’ll all just acknowledge the fact that Bridget Sloan had two landing hops on floor and the judges just threw roses at her and shouted, “Encore! Bravissima!” instead of taking deductions, and the questions about Florida’s ability to keep pace on floor remain. Still, 197.750. No slouch of a score. Mission #1 accomplished, but Florida will still need to replicate that performance in the two remaining road meets in order to have a shot at #1 and drop the distinctly un-Florida score still in the RQS picture.

3. Alabama – 197.195

RQS
Road Score 1: 197.525
Road Score 2: 197.300
Road Score 3: 197.250
Road/Home Score 1: 197.375
Road/Home Score 2: 197.175
Road/Home Score 3: 196.875

Alabama had an RQS lead on Florida going into the week and had a real shot at #2 but was not able to gain as much after getting stuck on the 9.850s for three events, though a huge bars score lifted the total up to 197.300, a respectable enough total and one that keeps Alabama squarely in the hunt for a finish somewhere 3-5. Counting two 197.3s, however, will make it harder to move up any higher than 3rd given what Oklahoma and Florida are counting so far. Right now, I would classify Alabama as the deepest team in NCAA, but the difference between qualifying to Super Six and challenging for the title will be decided by whether this is just a team with a billion 9.850 options or a team with a billion 9.850 options, from which emerge 12+ 9.9 options.

4. Michigan – 196.920

RQS:
Road Score 1: 196.975
Road Score 2: 196.900
Road Score 3: 196.550
Road/Home Score 1: 197.425
Road/Home Score 2: 197.225
Road/Home Score 3:196.950

The Michigan beam disaster. Is it 2012 already? PTSD flashbacks. This score will be dropped and is best forgotten forever. My motto about beam is that disasters aren’t something to worry about until they happen twice. This is the second time, so gentle concern might be arising. But no more than that yet. It was a bit troubling, though, that the errors did compound themselves. The back of the lineup appeared to lose composure after the early mistakes, ending is uncharacteristically weak showings from Artz and Chiarelli, who should be the bam-bam, confident 9.9s at the back of the lineup who save the total even in tense circumstances. 

With the dropped score, Michigan’s RQS stays the same, which makes the total a little more vulnerable to the likes of LSU, Utah, and UCLA. Still, both bold scores are perfectly fine right now, and with three road meets remaining, there’s time to get a few more. Michigan’s scores are tightly packed enough that even with a season high next weekend at Oklahoma, they have no chance to move up any higher than 4th. The mission will be holding off the challenging hordes.

5. Utah – 196.850

RQS
Road Score 1: 197.150
Road Score 2: 197.075
Road Score 3: 196.725
Road/Home Score 1: 197.150
Road/Home Score 2: 197.125
Road/Home Score 3: 196.175

Utah will be relatively happy with the performance at Stanford, one that was largely steady if marked by a few more missed dismounts on bars and checks on beam, but will not be particularly happy with the total. The big 197.5s that it takes to challenge the top remain out of reach. Still, Utah has that 196.1 hanging around the RQS picture, and we can expect that score to be eradicated next week barring disaster, which puts the team in contention to catch Michigan even with another normal, medium performance.

The Utes also got in a tiny morsel of fake internet trouble over the weekend by tweeting something along the lines of “three people go to Stanford’s meets, and a million people go to our meets. Neener-neener-neener.” I paraphrase. It was basically that. Apparently, this was shocking and offensive to people because of the wild hypersensitivity of college gymnastics. Was it kind of snarky and ignoble? Yeah. And that’s fine. That’s good. A little trash talk between teams/fans is healthy. It’s hardly harsh or mean-spirited. There’s nothing wrong with some G-rated rivalry and animosity to throw a spark into proceedings. This is a sport of adults after all, not a little girl dance recital presentation where everyone is happy for everyone, hard as some might try to make it that way. But of course, this is college gymnastics, so anything exhibiting a shred of personality, honesty, or the acknowledgment that this is actually a competition among passionate athletes who are in no way required to be supportive best friends must be removed immediately.

It’s like when Stanford went to Oklahoma a few years ago and then had a minor twitter rant about the insane scoring, then had to delete it and apologize because heaven forbid someone say something publicly that isn’t entirely positive. Or when Taylor Rice came on Gymcastic with us and then got in trouble for having a personality and giving honest impressions about the crazy scores. Breaking news: this is all fine. Have an opinion. Care. Create rivalries. Talk trash. Snark. Disagree. Be excited. Be salty. Cheer. Boo. Raise a hullabaloo. Root for outcomes, not just for everyone to hit/have a good time. Otherwise, how can you expect anyone to treat this like a real sport? Positivity is not exclusively a virtue and negativity is not exclusively a vice. If you’re an LSU fan, rooting for Florida to fall on beam or trip while doing a Gator chomp is not mean-spirited and not something to be ashamed of. It’s just sports. Inherent in wanting your team to succeed is wanting other teams to fail, and gymnastics needs to stop pretending that’s not true and stop pretending that it’s something inappropriate, unattractive, or shameful. It just is. Not everyone needs to come away from everything feeling great and supported all the time.

If the Sophina viral incident taught us anything, it’s that gymnastics makes waves when it loosens up and shows a side that isn’t in line with the prim and reserved reputation it has. So loosen up.  

6. UCLA – 196.810

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: 197.100
Road/Home Score 3: 196.550

Great, now am I going to have to have a rant about every team?

UCLA’s RQS zooms up this week because the Bruins were able to drop an ugly 195, but they would have hoped for a higher score this weekend that a 196.675. Big results on beam and floor helped save the meet, but lackluster landings on the first two events kept the total out of the much-needed 197-road-score territory. 196.675 is OK, but with just one road meet left, UCLA is already guaranteed to count two scores in the 196s, making the current #6 position somewhat precarious if these lower-ranked SEC teams go on scoring tears.

7. LSU – 196.750

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.800
Road Score 2: 196.750
Road Score 3: 195.825
Road/Home Score 1: 197.825
Road/Home Score 2: 197.425
Road/Home Score 3: 196.950

LSU finally broke though over the weekend for a massive 197.825 that we all knew was coming sooner or later. LSU should be ranked about 4th right now, but that nasty result from the Las Vegas meet is still hanging around, pulling the team down for the moment. Next weekend, LSU goes to Florida. Both teams basically have already scored a 198 in that meet, so expect LSU to jump up and challenge for a spot in the top 4 with another hit meet. With three road meets remaining, there’s still time to LSU to get rid of all of those 196s, so the RQS outlook is pretty strong.

8. Auburn – 196.495

RQS
Road Score 1: 197.125
Road Score 2: 196.825
Road Score 3: 196.175
Road/Home Score 1: 197.275
Road/Home Score 2: 196.275
Road/Home Score 3: 196.075

A gap is forming between the top 7 and the rest, but the gap is not necessarily permanent. Auburn suddenly turned into a different team three weeks ago, and if these 197s continue, Auburn has a solid chance to go higher, with bold scores better than what both Utah and UCLA are guaranteed to count so far. The Tigers have two home meets, a Georgia meet, and the SEC Champs remaining on the schedule, so the potential for 3-4 more big scores is certainly there.

9. Arkansas – 196.315

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.700
Road Score 2: 196.150
Road Score 3: 196.150
Road/Home Score 1: 196.700
Road/Home Score 2: 196.600
Road/Home Score 3: 195.975

Arkansas keeps plugging away with those low 196s. Coming off another even but not overwhelming result against Maryland, Arkansas appears unlikely to challenge for a ranking position higher than #9 but also appears like a better and better bet to hold onto a coveted top-12 spot. We’ve seen teams ranked throughout the teens put up high 196s as well, but they’re also throwing in stinkers that Arkansas isn’t, making them much more vulnerable.
 
10. Georgia – 196.310

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.775
Road Score 2: 196.275
Road Score 3: 195.350
Road/Home Score 1: 197.525
Road/Home Score 2: 196.750
Road/Home Score 3: 196.400

The Georgia Narrative Game is my favorite game in college gymnastics this season. Ostensibly, this isn’t a good week for the Georgia narrative, stepping right back to early February with a loss and counting a beam fall. Then again, the team total was a still-useful 196.750, the team’s third-highest of the season, and the only scored guaranteed to count right now is that excellent 197.5. That’s not to pretend that things are rosy for Georgia right now. How much confidence do we really have that this team can hit a postseason beam rotation? But, with five meets remaining and a 195 that should be no trouble to eliminate, Georgia is more than alive for a final ranking much higher than #10. Next weekend’s meet is away at Alabama. The original rivalry. With Georgia once again under big beam pressure. Yes, please.

11. Boise State – 196.185

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.425
Road Score 2: 196.400
Road Score 3: 196.275
Road/Home Score 1: 196.300
Road/Home Score 2: 196.250
Road/Home Score 3: 195.700

Boise State recorded its fifth-straight 196 over the weekend and is clearly playing the steady game as well as another other team in NCAA right now. The Broncos (Broncos, right?) are in a similar, though less secure, position to Arkansas in that they’re putting up solid numbers but are somewhat at the mercy of teams with higher ceilings that may or may not get their acts together. There are plenty of teams able to knock Boise State down, but they aren’t necessarily going to because of the sheer number of sightings of the 195 monster. Either way, this Boise State team is setting itself up as a solid spoiler reminiscent of that 2011 team.

12. Stanford – 196.045

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.650
Road Score 2: 196.075
Road Score 3: 195.875
Road/Home Score 1: 196.675
Road/Home Score 2: 195.875
Road/Home Score 3: 195.750

Stanford was able to stay afloat over the weekend by dropping a 194.800, but the 195.875 was far from the score the team would have wanted from a must-hit meet. Stanford counted a bars fall, which is bad for any team but even worse for a Stanford roster that heavily relies on big bars and beam scores. Now, with three meets left, Stanford is guaranteed already to count a low 196. It’s not the end of the world, but it increases the pressure on the remaining three scores all to be excellent and ensures that the teams in adjacent ranking positions smell blood. Stanford can certainly still Stanford and suddenly throw out Ivana Hong in the AA at regionals and be all perfect, but every 195 makes a #3 seeding look more and more possible.  

13. Denver – 196.005

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.350
Road Score 2: 196.125
Road Score 3: 196.000
Road/Home Score 1: 196.675
Road/Home Score 2: 195.900
Road/Home Score 3: 195.650

Denver’s 196.350 from Saturday doesn’t necessarily stand out, but it’s the team’s highest away score of the season and was accomplished while counting a 9.625 from NINA MCGEE for an OOB floor routine, a score that they’d almost always be able to count on for three tenths more than that. At this point, Denver’s outlook is quite similar to Stanford’s, which is impressive for a school without nearly the same expectations or pedigree, and while the top 10 will be out of reach, making some serious ranking noise remains a realistic proposition with five meets still remaining, compared to most teams with three or four.

14. Nebraska – 195.955

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.350
Road Score 2: 196.150
Road Score 3: 195.350
Road/Home Score 1: 196.775
Road/Home Score 2: 196.100
Road/Home Score 3: 195.825

You’re killing me, Nebraska. The Huskers lost to NC State over the weekend, scoring a low 195 after Jennie Laeng got an 8.5 on bars and then scratched the rest of the meet. That meant Nebraska had to pull a Nebraska and put up just five on vault and floor, resulting in a counted floor fall. Having only five available to go on floor, even after a fall when the team desperately needed an extra hit, is particularly troubling because Nebraska looked to have more depth on floor this year with gymnasts like Orel and Schweihofer contributing helpful routines, but suddenly both of those routines were MIA. Dear. Similar to Stanford, counting low 196 road scores is not ideal for a team with Nebraska’s expectations and puts the team in a vulnerable positions with just one road meet remaining, with the added problem of a super-low road score that must be removed to have any realistic shot at avoiding an unfortunate regional placement.

14. Cal – 195.955

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.900
Road Score 2: 195.650
Road Score 3: 195.575
Road/Home Score 1: 196.825
Road/Home Score 2: 196.375
Road/Home Score 3: 195.350

The tale of two teams this year. One minute, Cal is all WE’RE THE BEST, and the next minute they’re all 195.300. The two bold scores are excellent, but that’s only worth so much with 195s still on the record. Nonetheless, Cal Regional Upset Watch is probably more realistic this year than it has ever been in the past. 

16. Missouri – 195.900

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.050
Road Score 2: 195.825
Road Score 3: 195.200
Road/Home Score 1: 196.650
Road/Home Score 2: 196.625
Road/Home Score 3: 195.800

Missouri is ranked at #16 on the strength of big home scores, the most recent earned during a meet with undeniably fancy scoring for both teams. If Missouri is going to prove a true upset threat, those mid-196 scores must be reached on the road as well. If they can be, then all these teams ranked in the teens are vulnerable to be passed because bold 196.6s make any team formidable. 

17. Oregon State – 195.840

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.350
Road Score 2: 196.225
Road Score 3: 195.325
Road/Home Score 1: 196.850
Road/Home Score 2: 195.875
Road/Home Score 3: 195.425

Oregon State has no business being ranked 17th. It’s cause for concern, especially with two very low 195s still hanging around. The team has work to do, but the big home score against Cal is a step closer to what we expect from the team. In spite of being all the way down in the peasant parts of the rankings, the Beavs are still in the fight for a non-terrifying regional placement, but only if all these 195s go away, which means three big hits with complete lineups of 9.850s over the next four meets. At the very least. OSU has definitely left it to the last minute. How very Stanford of them.

18. Iowa – 195.710

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.275
Road Score 2: 196.275
Road Score 3: 194.900
Road/Home Score 1: 196.650
Road/Home Score 2: 196.375
Road/Home Score 3: 194.725

Iowa had been nailing meets for a whole month of 196s, but everything finally came crashing down over the weekend in a meet made entirely out of falls. So, while Iowa does jump up the rankings now that RQS in in play, this was a missed opportunity to go even higher. Interestingly, Iowa has no 195s this year. It’s either 196 or 194. With two more 196s, this becomes another legitimately competitive team to challenge for the 1-12-13 regional, but which team is going to show up in the next four meets? The 196 team or the 194 team?

19. Minnesota – 195.695

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.300
Road Score 2: 196.075
Road Score 3: 195.525
Road/Home Score 1: 195.775
Road/Home Score 2: 195.675
Road/Home Score 3: 195.425

20. George Washington – 195.520

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.175
Road Score 2: 196.075
Road Score 3: 195.750
Road/Home Score 1: 195.425
Road/Home Score 2: 195.400
Road/Home Score 3: 194.950

21. Eastern Michigan – 195.485

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.600
Road Score 2: 195.975
Road Score 3: 195.050
Road/Home Score 1: 195.750
Road/Home Score 2: 195.600
Road/Home Score 3: 195.050

22. Kentucky – 195.480

RQS
Road Score 1: 195.800
Road Score 2: 195.800
Road Score 3: 195.525
Road/Home Score 1:196.050
Road/Home Score 2: 195.175
Road/Home Score 3: 195.100

23. West Virginia – 195.420

RQS
Road Score 1: 195.250
Road Score 2: 195.250
Road Score 3: 195.200
Road/Home Score 1: 195.800
Road/Home Score 2: 195.800
Road/Home Score 3: 195.600

24. Illinois – 195.315

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.300
Road Score 2: 195.725
Road Score 3: 195.500
Road/Home Score 1: 195.150
Road/Home Score 2: 195.125
Road/Home Score 3: 195.075

25. Arizona – 195.235

RQS
Road Score 1: 196.000
Road Score 2: 194.850
Road Score 3: 193.475
Road/Home Score 1: 196.475
Road/Home Score 2: 196.150
Road/Home Score 3: 195.700

*Note that Southern Utah does not currently have enough road meets to have an RQS and so temporarily drops off the rankings.

Saturday Live Blog – Oklahoma @ Georgia; Utah @ Stanford

Saturday, February 20

4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Oklahoma @ Georgia – SCORESSECN
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Alabama, Denver, Cornell @ Penn State – SCORES Stream(free)
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Utah @ Stanford – SCORESPac-12
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Cal @ Oregon State – SCORESPac-12 Oregon
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Towson @ Iowa – SCORESStream($)
6:00 ET/3:00 PT – Pennsylvania, Temple, Ursinus @ Rutgers – SCORES
10:15 ET/7:15 PT – Winter Cuppity Cup Cup Cup – SCORES/STREAM
Joyful times to be had by all! Until we get to Georgia on beam. Then…we’ll see. The main focus of the day will be everything, but mostly Oklahoma and Georgia because I’m fascinated to see those two up against each other. I don’t think it’s going to be the cakewalk for Oklahoma it might seem based on most previous scores, so that’s obviously the kiss of death. Enjoy reading that sentence after Oklahoma wins by three points.

First eye goes on that meet. Second eye on Utah and Stanford because that’s now an urgent scoring assignment for Stanford. Remaining eyes on Iowa’s scores and the “who’s fourth-best in this conference” showdown between OSU and Cal. Oh, and Alabama! Too much!

Also, why you should be a fan of Kaytianna McMillan.


“That was a good sentence. We have like maybe two.”

And then tonight, the elite boys get their Winter Cup on, which is always a treat. It’s like gymnastics, but where everyone falls on everything. It’s really fun. You’ll like it a lot.

Continue reading Saturday Live Blog – Oklahoma @ Georgia; Utah @ Stanford

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama