March 31, 2013

Gainesville Regional Preview

Throughout the week, I will be breaking down each of the regional championships, giving a good hard stare to the teams expected to advance as well as the teams that could conceivably make things a little more interesting than they were last year. Let's begin with our #1 seed, the Florida Gators, and their home regional in Gainesville, Florida.

Competing teams (starting event):
[1] Florida (vault)
[12] Minnesota (bye before bars)
[13] Auburn (bye before floor)
[24] Maryland (floor)
[29] Bridgeport (bars)
[36] Pittsburgh (beam)

The Favorite:

Once again, the Florida Gators enter the regional championships as the #1 team, and while any person with eyes and a basic understanding of the concept of gymnastics would consider them a lock to advance from any of the regional locations, it would take an upset of downright comical proportions to knock them out their home regional. We're just two years removed from Florida's near disaster of a 2011 regional, but this team is notably more secure than that one and also scores at such stratospheric levels that it could withstand even that kind of catastrophe and still advance. 

March 28, 2013

SEC Championship Broadcast

Here we stand, the SEC Championship broadcast five days after the competition ended. ESPNU has finally gotten around to showing the event after completing a four-day marathon of Division III hopscotch, or whatever this network usually shows. 

It's never as interesting to watch a competition like this after the fact, but it will still be a valuable experience for evaluating levels of postseason readiness as well as scoring accuracy.

We begin with a brief recap of the JV session and Auburn on the vault. Nice power as always from Guy and Atkinson, but those landings need much more control. They cannot give away those .100s if they want to keep pace with Minnesota's vaulting at regionals.

Otherwise, it's just bits and pieces of routines to make sure everyone feels included. Grable's excellent back 1.5, front 1/1, front half stepout got its moment, as did some uncontrolled vault and floor landings from both teams in the final rotation until Guy's hit anchor routine for 9.900. Suzanne interviews Jeff Graba. He seems charming and slightly nervous.

I'm sure these coaches will all be really pleased by these unflattering shots of them laughing. Bridget Sloan is never not dancing.

Rotation 1:
We start with Clark on bars instead of the usual leadoff Sledge, who had a strained back. Alabama ended up going out of order on this event and brought it to the attention of the judges for a one-tenth deduction. Clark had a couple leg separations on her shaposh and bail handstand, cut off her handstands to a degree, and stepped back on the dismount. Demeo can be very hit and miss on bars, but this time her handstands looked mostly fine (I still hate that composition choice of the half turn, which is just asking to be deducted). She sticks the DLO. Priess finishes with a very aggressive routine, she's rounding into form, with a hop on the DLO that is still piked a little but much stronger than it was a month ago.

March 26, 2013

Regional Scoring Comparison

I will have full analysis of each regional coming next week, but for now this is a comparison of some relevant scores and averages (home averages for host teams, road averages for everyone else) for each regional championship. Each score is followed by the team's ranking within the regional in that category.

Gainesville, Florida Regional

[1] Florida
RQS: 197.840 [1]
Season high: 198.425 [1]
Season average: 197.486 [1]
Home average: 197.504 [1]
Home VT average: 49.458 [1]
Home UB average: 49.504 [1]
Home BB average: 49.163 [1]
Home FX average: 49.379 [1]

[2] Minnesota
RQS: 196.615 [T2]
Season high: 197.225 [2]
Season average: 196.110 [2]
Road average: 195.729 [3]
Road VT average: 49.175 [2]
Road UB average: 48.471 [5]
Road BB average: 49.013 [3]
Road FX average: 49.071 [2]

[3] Auburn
RQS: 196.615 [T2]
Season high: 197.175 [3]
Season average: 196.085 [3]
Road average: 196.007 [2]
Road VT average: 49.054 [5]
Road UB average: 48.968 [2]
Road BB average: 49.039 [2]
Road FX average: 48.946 [4]

[4] Maryland
RQS: 195.810 [4]
Season high: 196.175 [T5]
Season average: 195.446 [4]
Road average: 195.307 [4]
Road VT average: 49.121 [3]
Road UB average: 48.546 [4]
Road BB average: 48.779 [4]
Road FX average: 48.861 [5]

[5] Bridgeport
RQS: 195.485 [5]
Season high: 196.200 [4]
Season average: 194.725 [6]
Road average: 194.880 [5]
Road VT average: 49.095 [4]
Road UB average: 48.418 [6]
Road BB average: 48.418 [5]
Road FX average: 48.950 [3]

[6] Pittsburgh
RQS: 195.065 [6]
Season high: 196.175 [T5]
Season average: 194.750 [5]
Road average: 194.575 [6]
Road VT average: 48.671 [6]
Road UB average: 48.654 [3]
Road BB average: 48.413 [6]
Road FX average: 48.838 [6]

March 25, 2013

Regional Selection

The Regional Selection Show gets underway here at 3:00 ET/12:00 PT.

Why we need a selection show to tell us what we essentially already know (except for the assignments to the Ohio State and West Virginia Regionals) is beyond me, but it gives everyone something to tweet about, I suppose. I contend they should spent less time organizing selection shows and more time thinking about the postseason format and how it's awful, but maybe that's just me.

We have six regional championships:
Florida (6:00 ET/3:00 PT)
Oklahoma (5:00 ET/2:00 PT)
Alabama (7:00 ET/4:00 PT)
Oregon State (7:00 ET/4:00 PT)
Ohio State (6:00 ET/3:00 PT)
West Virginia (6:00 ET/3:00 PT)

(Please note the absolutely terrible timing of these regionals. They're all at the same time, which is extremely fan unfriendly.)

And 36 teams to be placed:
1. Florida
2. Oklahoma
3. Alabama
4. Georgia
5. Michigan
7. LSU
8. Nebraska
9. Utah
10. Oregon State
11. Stanford
12. Minnesota
12 Part 2: Auburn
14. Penn State
15. Denver
16. Arkansas
17. Illinois
18. Arizona
19. Kentucky
20. Ohio State
21. Boise State
22. Washington
23. Kent State
24. Maryland
24 Part 2: Central Michigan
26. West Virginia
27. Iowa
28. Arizona State
29. Bridgeport
30. BYU
31. NC State
32. Cal
33. North Carolina
34. Southern Utah
35. Iowa State
36. Pittsburgh

Here's how it will play out in twelve days:
Florida Regional: [1] Florida, [12] Minnesota, [12] Auburn, Maryland, Bridgeport, Pittsburgh
Oklahoma Regional: [2] Oklahoma, [11] Stanford, [14] Penn State, Washington, Iowa, Southern Utah
Alabama Regional: [3] Alabama, [9] Utah, [15] Denver, Kent State, BYU, Iowa State
Oregon State Regional: [4] Georgia, [10] Oregon State, [16] Arkansas, Boise State, Arizona State, Cal
West Virginia Regional: [5] Michigan, [8] Nebraska, [17] Illinois, Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina   
Ohio State Regional: [6] UCLA, [7] LSU, [18] Arizona, Ohio State, Central Michigan, NC State

It's not surprising that UCLA and LSU go to Ohio State since LSU and Ohio State are both technically in the Central region. Plus, otherwise the Ohio State Regional would have been too Big Ten heavy.

So there's that. We have a few third seeds that could cause some damage, but no teams should be that disappointed. The Ohio State Regional is probably the deepest.

(It turns out that the breaker in the event of a tie is the best seventh score, not the season average.)

March 23, 2013

Conference Championships Live Blog - The Storm before the Better Storm

As championship season begins, the title picture remains relatively unchanged from its position at the beginning of year. Oklahoma has proven itself a serious contender instead of a peripheral one, and UCLA has dropped down because of injuries, but by and large this is where we expected to be.

We might have hoped that the Super Six outlook, which seemed rather fuzzy in December and January, would work itself out during the season, but it remains as uncertain as ever. The top eleven teams in the country can all claim a Super Six status of at least possible. For the teams currently at the back of that group (Nebraska, Oregon State, and Stanford), today will be crucial in determining their postseason fates. There will be no more playing around with lineups or strategies about peaking at the right time. This begins the peaking time, and those teams will decide whether we whittle down that group of eleven today.

Since 1989, no team has won the National Championship without placing in the top two at a conference championship. Also remember that we will have four judges beginning today instead of two. Throwing out scores tends to even out the scoring a little bit and mitigate the influence of slaphappy judges. Gymnasts who have been getting a bunch of forgiving 9.875s and 9.925s will see those go down to 9.850s and 9.900s today.

March 22, 2013

The Conference Championships Ahead

Come one, come all. We have more championships going on tomorrow than you could possibly know what to do with. This day is becoming increasingly less frustrating in terms of updates every year, and the addition of a live TV broadcast of Pac-12s helps significantly, as does the fact that the SEC now understands that the internet is a place where information can be communicated to others. They already have the scoring link up this year! I'm so proud.

It's going to be a lo-ong day, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I'll be popping in with updates throughout the day, giving special focus to the second sessions of Big Tens, SECs, and Pac-12s. Updates from the Big Ten Championship from those who can watch it on the Big Ten Network would be much appreciated. 

A few of the lesser championships will be providing live streams for those interested, so really the only lagging conference is the SEC. We'll all have to follow the scores together and make really self-righteous, really unsubstantiated comments about them. Yay!

I've already picked UCLA for Pac-12s and Florida for SECs, so here it goes for the rest. I say Michigan takes Big Tens with something in the mid 197s. Nebraska will contend but can't match Michigan's scoring potential. If Oklahoma wins Big 12s by anything less than 1.500, it counts as an upset. I like NC State to upset Maryland at EAGLs, but I'll take the top seeds, Denver and Kent State, in their respective conferences.

Championships Schedule
Saturday – 3/23/13

March 21, 2013

SEC Championship Preview

At the season's outset, the SEC looked to be a clear two-team race, so we have the improved refinement of Georgia and cleanliness of LSU to thank for this becoming a more competitive event than it appeared it would. While a Georgia or LSU victory would still be a surprise since each team has at least one weak event, their 197 potential will surely keep the action broadly focused on all four teams through the last rotation. That would be the case, at least, if anyone actually got to see the competition, but alas no. The SEC can't manage such a thing. Might we hope that the newly live Pac-12 Championship would put a little pressure on ESPN to do the same thing for the SEC, at least online? Yeah, I didn't think so.

Florida has been the favorite at this competition since the day that Bridget Sloan committed, and that remains the case. The Gators come in as the #1 team in the country, and the lack of clear weaknesses and the expectation (not just potential, but expectation) of double-digit 9.9s should put them ahead of Alabama. If the Tide is to win the title, landings will be to thank. Florida is too 198-capable when sticking, but if the Gators are stepping, Alabama can erode a lead .05 by .05 with sticks.

Even if Georgia and LSU hit perfectly, they're going to need some help to win. If not a counting fall, getting them in the title picture would have require at least a couple counting 9.7s. I don't see both Alabama and Florida succumbing to that, which is why the others remain on the outside. Georgia has a bit more potential to win because, on an ideal day when beam is in order and the floor landings look like they did last weekend, the mid-high 197s is a legitimate goal. LSU will be just a bit too glad to get through beam and will likely lose too much ground there to make it up on floor and vault against equally powerful teams. LSU will also be starting on vault and floor, so the team may be susceptible to stunted early scores in places where it needs huge ones.

The rotation order is as follows:
Session 1: Auburn - VT; Arkansas - UB; Kentucky - BB; Missouri - FX
Session 2: Florida - VT; Alabama - UB; Georgia - BB; LSU - FX


Each of the four teams in the final session is capable of scoring a 49.500 on vault, so if any team gains an advantage here, it will be because of sticks. For most of the season, Alabama has lagged behind in the landing department, but last week the Tide got several crucial sticks while Florida, LSU, and to a lesser extent Georgia all gave away tenths. If that can be used as evidence, Alabama should be starting to find the 49.600 form that we always knew existed. 

However, if the Gators are not as bouncy as they have been too many times on the road this season, they can certainly snatch this event. Hunter is the strongest vaulter in the conference, King is obviously stellar, and Sloan and Dickerson can go well above 9.900 for sticks. They will record a big score regardless, but they must control the landings to outpace Alabama. If Alabama is still forced to use Jacob or Sims, that could also tip things toward the Gators.

Georgia’s freshman Yurchenko 1.5s have saved this team on an event where it looked like they would give up some ground after last year, but the landings for both Jay and Rogers have been rather hit and miss these last few weeks. When they stick, they go 9.950, but when they hop forward, they go 9.850. The Gymdogs don’t have to win vault (and probably won’t), but they certainly can't be fighting against 9.850s from top performers. A stick from Davis for 9.900 in the leadoff position usually does wonders for the rest of the scores, so watch for that.

Of these four teams, LSU is the most reliant on a successful vault rotation. While the others can make up for OK vaults on other events, the Tigers know they will be losing tenths on bars and beam no matter what, so an average rotation, even to the tune of 49.300, could take them out of the running. Therefore, LSU sticks will be the most important sticks. If they don’t get them, they at least better hope for that same vault judge as last year. 

In the first session, Auburn should pick up some ground here with Guy’s power and Atkinson’s clean 1.5. Arkansas will be looking to get through a depleted event with something over 49, and Kentucky will be looking to the back four for solid 9.850s to try to keep pace.  

Pac-12 Championship Preview

The Pac-12 has been a funny little creature this year, sort of injured and ragged but still nice in places, like one of those baby ducks that they wash the crude oil off in dish soap commercials.

This year, there is no true top team, no feature force that will surely contend for the national title and should have no trouble winning the conference championships when hitting 24/24. While it would still be somewhat surprising if no Pac-12 team advances to Super Six, it wouldn't be shocking in the way we would normally expect. Every team has weaknesses, and every team could lose to any number of teams around the nation, even on a good day. With the top four seeds so closely ranked, nothing separates them except potential. The results have given us no reliable guidance. That will serve to make the final session a sight to see. A potential mess, yes, but a sight to see.

Oregon State and Stanford haven't featured in the top conversation this year, but don't count them out of the title race. For the Beavers to win, they're probably going to need to be served assistance two ways: home-gym assistance and other-teams-faltering assistance. They've peaked out in the low 197s this year for hit competitions, and for that kind of score to win, others will have to make mistakes. Stanford has also peaked in the low 197s, but they have been more often on track for higher scores before being done in by a fall or a rash of 9.6s. I'm still not really sure how good this team can be because we haven't seen it. Stanford is the biggest consistency risk in the conference. The multiple potential 9.9s, however, are undeniable.

Utah is probably the safe choice to win. However, that 198 has been the talk of the town for the last few days, and I almost wonder if that will end up hurting the team by pairing "Utah" and "overscored" too much, causing a reaction the other direction. A season-best beam rotation will be vital for them because they won't be getting 9.850s for major mistakes. UCLA has been the most injury-depleted team this year, and a lot of the Bruins' success will depend on who they can get in the lineup and who is far enough along to hit for more than a 9.800. They're cutting it close, but they're also UCLA.

The rotation order is as follows:
Session 1: Cal - VT; Washington - UB; Arizona St - BB; Arizona - FX
Session 2: Stanford - VT; UCLA - UB; Oregon State - BB; Utah - FX

There is a pretty big gap in quality between the first session and the second session, and if all of the top four teams hit, they will be the top four finishers. Let's take a look at how they stand each event.


Even a few weeks ago, I wouldn't have expected to be talking up UCLA's chances on vault, but the Bruins are starting to land. The results on vault could largely hinge on their lineup. Even though Pritchett hit a much better vault last week, I still don't think she and McDonald are postseason material. Should the Bruins get an in-form Sawa and/or De La Torre hitting for early 9.850s, they can win vault. Otherwise, Utah should take the event.

In comparing the Bruins with the Utes, both teams have a guaranteed big score at the back of the lineup, but Courtney and Baer in the 5th and 4th spots have been landing better than Dabritz and Damianova these last couple weeks and have somewhat more dynamic vaults. Neither team has been getting great quality from the first three vaulters, but Utah has been a bit more reliably 9.800, which is why UCLA's early lineup is a deciding factor.

Oregon State has squeezed as much as seemed possible out of the vaulters, and the addition of Gaspar has helped significantly. I wonder about the power and landing positions in comparison to the competition, especially from the first three. Blalock and Stambaugh are strong, but they'll need some sticks to get out of 49.250 land and contend. Stanford has two strong vaults as well in Dayton and Hong and another potential one in Vaculik, but the rest of the rotation could bring down the score just a bit too much to win the event. Ashley Morgan has occasional landing trouble with her vault, and Hanset has enough built-in deductions with landing position to prevent her score from going very high.

March 18, 2013

Week 11 Rankings and Final RQS Update

Depending on whether you consider the conference championships as part of the regular season (they still count for RQS and the results still don't matter, just like all the earlier meets) or the postseason (they have the word championships in them), the regular season is either over or almost over. Let's take a look at how things stand heading into the last opportunity to make a difference.

1. Florida – 197.700
Road Score 1: 197.875
Road Score 2: 197.575
Road Score 3: 197.300
Road/Home Score 1: 198.425
Road Home Score 2: 198.100
Road/Home Score 3: 197.650

In recent memory (meaning in the span of the GymInfo archive), only UCLA (2003, 2004) and Georgia (1999) have recorded a higher RQS.

2. Oklahoma – 197.570
Road Score 1: 197.625
Road Score 2: 197.450
Road Score 3: 197.375
Road/Home Score 1: 198.375
Road/Home Score 2: 197.875
Road/Home Score 3: 197.525

It will be extremely difficult for Oklahoma to pass Florida at this point. Florida needs a 197.675 at SECs to secure the #1 ranking regardless of Oklahoma's performance, which is well within the realm of possibility. Oklahoma would have to break 198 this weekend to even have a shot.

3. Alabama – 197.260
Road Score 1: 197.725
Road Score 2: 197.100
Road Score 3: 196.950
Road/Home Score 1: 197.650
Road/Home Score 2: 197.525
Road/Home Score 3: 197.075

For the top three, ranking fluctuations at this point mean little more than bragging rights. All three will obviously remain in the top six and will be the top seeds at their home regionals going up against the back end of the top 12. After #3, things get a bit more interesting. Regional host Oregon State is unable to get any higher than 9th and therefore should meet the highest-ranked team not called Florida, Oklahoma, and Alabama in that Regional. Georgia has closed the gap on Michigan, and the two could finish in any order with the others not far behind.

March 17, 2013

A Fine Little Sunday – Georgia, UCLA, Arkansas

Have you recovered from the scoring choices around the nation yesterday? I haven't. I'm still a little woozy. In case you missed it, the perfect 10 had a bachelorette party with the theme "80's Night." Let's see if it was a one-night thing or if it's a weekend-long affair. The motto for Danna and Val today should be "I'll have what Greg's having."

The day begins with Georgia visiting NC State, which will start shortly after 1:00 ET/10:00 PT and can be seen on ESPN3. UCLA will follow by hosting Arkansas at 5:00 ET/2:00 PT.

March 16, 2013

[2] Florida @ [7] Utah Live Blog

The Florida Gators arrive at the arena this evening still reveling in that home 198.425 two weeks ago and needing just a 197.250 to regain the #1 ranking. That ranking would be a nice prestige trophy, but hitting a big score on the road heading into championship season is a much more important accomplishment. So far this weekend, the top teams have performed raggedly. Oklahoma and LSU struggled with landings at their away meets, and Michigan had to absorb several mistakes en route to a score under 197. Alabama is the only team to pass 197 at this point, and Alabama also holds the top road score in the country this season, 197.725. Make no mistake, Florida is competing against Alabama tonight as well. 

With Alaina Johnson still in recovery, some questions still linger in the early vault and floor lineups. When Johnson went down, the general notion was that the Gators possessed enough depth that we wouldn't notice. That's a little true, but the Gators need Kiersten Wang back on both events to avoid giving up a few tenths. That is probably the only area of weakness Florida showed last week, so the main focus tonight will be proving that sixteen 9.9s isn't just a ridiculous home thing.

Because this is college gymnastics, the result of this meet is irrelevant. Utah would need significant mistakes from Florida to contend in a normal world. For the Utes, something in the 197s would be nice, as would showing nationally competitive bars and beam rotations. Currently, I count about six routines that would be believable postseason 9.9s. That can be enough to make Super Six, but it's not a comfortable position. Utah needs to show potential for more tonight.

For those of you who don't have access to the Pac-12 Network, I'll be providing as much reality-based commentary as possible. I know how frustrating it can be to follow meets using only team twitter updates like "Beautiful routine from McKynzi! 9.600!" What was so beautiful about it if it got a 9.600?

March 15, 2013

Friday's Featured Meets – Oklahoma, Alabama, LSU

Friday schedule
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [5] LSU @ NC State Scores Video(free)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Maryland, Rutgers @ [21] West Virginia
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – SEMO, New Hampshire, Cornell @ [22] Kent State
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – [1] Oklahoma @ [4] Alabama Scores Video(free)
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [23] Boise State @ Utah State
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [25] Iowa, San Jose State @ Southern Utah

March 14, 2013

The Weekend Ahead – March 15-17

Okay, crazies. It's the final weekend of meets before all the various conference championships. We've now long since passed "There's still time" territory. If teams aren't showing postseason-level gymnastics this weekend, they can't claim that they're still getting on the right track.

It's also a big weekend for fans of free streams since you will be able to watch both of the big Friday meets and both of the big Sunday meets (provided you have access to ESPN3 for Georgia/NC State). LSU is in action earlier on Friday and needs to show strong bars and beam rotations. That bars lineup is still in flux, and I want to see what kind of solution the coaches have devised. Jessie Jordan is certainly one of the top six in terms of quality of routine, but she's a hitting risk.

That meet will be the opening act for the main event, Oklahoma and Alabama. You can bet Alabama is having none of Oklahoma's higher ranking, and they likely consider themselves the better team. Oklahoma has seemed for all the country to have improved by miles on vault and floor, but this will be a crucial side-by-side test of that improvement. Also, Alabama's bars, Alabama's bars, Alabama's bars.

I know it's frustrating for those of you who are sans Pac-12 Network, but I will be here for Florida/Utah relaying all of the important points, both nonsensical and routine-based. This is one of those meets, like UCLA/Oklahoma, where Utah could lose by a point and still call it a victory. Alaina Johnson will not be competing but could be back on bars at SECs.

It's a busy weekend, as it should be, so there's no respite on Sunday. NC State has quite the tough little weekend with both LSU and Georgia both visiting. Georgia will be hungry for a good road score to shake off its status as the only top-ten team without a road 197. In the final action of the weekend, UCLA hosts Arkansas. The Razorbacks have been on an upswing of sorts, and the Bruins will be looking to cobble together a lineup capable of keeping them in contention with the very best.  

Top 25 Schedule

March 13, 2013

Home/Road Disparity and RQS Update

As we head toward the postseason, it's natural to wonder how regular season performance is going to translate into performance at Regionals and Championships. Is that big home score really indicative of a team's quality, or are those road scores going to be as good as it gets?

That's why I'm looking at the disparity between home and road scores this week. Below, teams are ranked by the average difference between their top three home scores and their top three road scores. (These are not necessarily the six RQS scores since occasionally more than three road scores count for RQS.) Teams at the top of the list are getting the biggest boost from competing at home (Boise State and Nebraska are scoring over a point better at home on average), and teams at the bottom are getting the smallest. A negative number indicates a higher average on the road.

In general, the larger the disparity between home and road scores, the more questions we should have about realistic performance level, either because of charitable home scoring or a lack of consistency on the road (or both). Note that both Ohio State and West Virginia appear in the top 5. This is why I have been warning about the seeds who get placed in the Ohio State and West Virginia Regionals. We're going to see some scoring fireworks there.

Largest Home/Road Disparity
1. Boise State +1.167
2. Nebraska +1.100
3. Ohio State +0.958
4. Florida +0.908
5. West Virginia +0.900
6. Arkansas +0.767
7. Minnesota +0.642
8. Georgia +0.575
9. Iowa +0.525
10. Oklahoma +0.442
11. Stanford +0.375
12. Penn State +0.367
13. Auburn +0.358
14. UCLA +0.317
15. Kent State +0.308
16. Oregon State +0.208
17. Utah +0.200
18. Arizona +0.183
19. Denver +0.167
20. Illinois +0.100
21. LSU +0.025
22. Michigan -0.050
23. Kentucky -0.133
24. Central Michigan -0.142
25. Alabama -0.158

As always, RQS:

1. Oklahoma (Current RQS: 197.570)
Road Score 1: 197.625
Road Score 2: 197.450
Road Score 3: 197.375
Road/Home Score 1: 198.375
Road/Home Score 2: 197.875
Road/Home Score 3: 197.525

2. Florida (Current RQS: 197.440)
Road Score 1: 197.575
Road Score 2: 197.300
Road Score 3: 196.575
Road/Home Score 1: 198.425
Road Home Score 2: 198.100
Road/Home Score 3: 197.650

Both Florida and Oklahoma are away this weekend, but since Florida still has that measly little 196.575 counting, the Gators are more likely to improve. They will need a 197.250 to pass Oklahoma if Oklahoma doesn't change. I expect both teams to score much higher than that, but the Gators should move in front as long as they score close to or above the Sooners.

March 11, 2013

Week 10 Rankings and Notes

Just one week of the regular season remaining. Can you deal with that? I can't.

1. Oklahoma – 197.570
Week 10 A: 197.875
Week 10 A leaders: AA - Spears 39.600; VT - Kanewa 9.950; UB - Kmieciak 9.925; BB - Kmieciak, Spears 9.900; FX - Spears, Scaman 9.950
Week 10 B: 197.525
Week 10 B leaders: AA - Spears 38.950; VT - Scaman 9.925; UB - Olson 9.975; BB - Spears 9.925; FX - Scaman 9.925

With 197.570, Oklahoma now boasts the highest team RQS since UCLA's 198.055 at the end of the 2004 season. Next week against Alabama will be the Sooner's first legitimate road test in months. Watch for how the vaults (especially stuck vaults) are evaluated for both teams. Proving competitive on vault with a team like Alabama would be a significant hurdle passed. Of note, the Sooners have seen a fall on beam in four of the last five meets (two from Olson, two from Alexander). None have counted.

2. Florida – 197.440
Week 10: Bye

The Gators' off week rendered them a fairly comfortable stepping stone for the Sooners to #1. The two could switch once again next week since Florida still has an iffy road score that should be dropped with a strong performance at Utah. We all know that Florida has the late-lineup 9.950s to beat any team in the country, but watch the first two positions on each event. Even when achieving the 198.425, half of Florida's 1st and 2nd routines scored under 9.850. The Gators need to make sure they're not settling for worse than their team potential in the early positions.

March 10, 2013

[3] Michigan, Cal, Iowa St @ [6] UCLA

Mattie thinks she's getting into the vault lineup today. She better.

In a season where a mid-197 is good, a high 196 is fine, and a mid-196 is bad, UCLA has suffered two bad meets out of the last three. So far this week, all of the title contenders have gone 197 or higher, and UCLA must do that today to avoid being dropped to the back of the conversation and the back of the top 10. 

Seeing the Bruins ranked at the back of the top 10 at this point in the season is not unusual. The ranking, however, is usually the result of one or two disaster meets where excellent gymnasts performed poorly. This year has been notably free of disaster meets, but it has been rife with 9.750s, the result of average routines performed to expectations, which is a more troubling situation. The postseason routines and gymnasts need to start appearing.

For being ranked #3 in the country, Michigan has remained on the periphery of the conversation for a couple of reasons. The first is lower expectations. The Wolverines were not expected to contend this year, and it takes time for the narrative to change. This team is still largely expected to fall away once championship season begins. The second is a lack of high-profile competition. Michigan faced Oregon State and Nebraska in the first two weeks but other than that has not competed against much top-tier competition. Beating UCLA away would be a victory of the level the Wolverines have not yet had this season.

March 9, 2013

[7] Utah @ [8] Georgia Live Blog

It's senior day in Athens. This class has been quite the little journey for us all. When Jay Clark is an old man in a rocking chair shouting at kids to get off his lawn and bemoaning the state of the world today (if that's not already the case), he'll have whole patches of gray hairs named "Shayla" and "Christa." Maybe he'll try dying the Christa patch red. To Danna Durante's credit, she has both of them competing the best gymnastics of their collegiate careers this year.

Shayla was recruited to get 9.9s on three events every week. That hasn't happened, not remotely, which is why her career will largely be remembered as a missed opportunity and she will be seen as the star that could have been. To some extent, those expectations were too high. With her injury history, floor was always going to be an "if her legs can handle it" event, and on bars, the elite code masked significant weaknesses like the dismount. She was never able to master an NCAA-ready dismount, and that has been an ongoing saga. Even though consistency will never be a thing with Shayla, beam has been the bright spot lately and the most likely place for a 9.9. Might we see a senior 10 today?

This has been a big year for Tanella. She's finally in shape and in form enough to get those 9.850s that should have always come naturally for her. I had certainly given up on seeing anything more than borderline-lineup 9.775s, and the change in coaching staff has obviously been a necessary progression for her. Noel Couch will not be competing, but as much as she gets knocked for her form (by me), she has been the sturdy Romanian for this team for years. Imagine how many 195s they would have recorded without her.

March 8, 2013

Friday Scores – Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Oklahoma

Friday – 3/8/13
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Bowling Green @ [20] Kentucky Scores Video(subscription)
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – [19] Illinois @ Missouri Scores Video(subscription)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [16] Arizona @ [2] Oklahoma Scores
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [5] Alabama @ [4] LSU Scores
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Lindenwood @ [11] Auburn Scores Video(subscription)
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – [23] Boise State, Davis, Seattle Pacific @ San Jose State Scores

Alabama's lineups are slightly different today (now that they have been fixed).

March 7, 2013

The Weekend Ahead – March 8–10

Apparently competing on Friday isn't the cool thing to do anymore as just three of the top-ten teams will be in action. The most important meet is Alabama/LSU, and I don't think many would have predicted Alabama coming to LSU in March as the lower-ranked team. Bars will be the primary event to keep an eye on since LSU has been overperforming there and Alabama has been underperforming. Alabama has a fairly good shot at passing LSU in the rankings with a win at this meet (guaranteed if the Tide score 197.300).

Saturday is a bit more of the place to be, particularly because of the Utah/Georgia meet, which I will obviously be blogging. I thought Georgia was a little hard done by with the result at LSU, but it has become too easy to dismiss the Gymdogs since there always seems to be something wrong. They could use a home 197. Beam will unsurprisingly be the event to watch, but keep an eye on all of Georgia Dabritz's performances for Utah. The Utes will not ultimately be successful unless she is their top AA gymnast for at least 39.5s every week. 

On Sunday, UCLA hosts Michigan and some other teams, but mostly Michigan. I'm just as interested in this meet as I am in Georgia/Utah and frankly, UCLA could use the benefit of a little home scoring with all these low 196s going around. Who knows with UCLA's lineups, but Mattie may be coming in on vault, which is all kinds of necessary. If MDLT is healthy, she should be coming in on vault and bars as well. These are the kinds of personnel changes UCLA needs to compete with the likes of Michigan, a team that seems solidly 197 at this point. Zamarripa and Sampson are the top AAers in the country (because Hunter and Sloan don't have RQS), so that should be an interesting individual contest as well. 

It's going to be a good weekend. This is the time when teams have to start polishing those final lineups, and we should get a clearer sense of how they will perform over the next month+.

Top 25 Schedule

March 6, 2013

Ideal Performance and RQS Update

My primary complaint with RQS as a ranking barometer is that it reduces the season to such a small sample size of six meets that it ends up measuring ideal team performance rather than providing a comprehensive look at the whole season, highs and lows. Teams are essentially able to yell, "Takeover!" on all their bad meets as long as they have six good ones. As a result, mercurial teams usually end up over-ranked and consistent ones end up under-ranked. In the postseason, it is often only a few teams that meet or exceed RQS. The majority of teams underperform this number.

Of course, the winners do beat their RQS (and everyone else's). Ideal performance, while maybe not the most illuminating way to rank teams after a season of performances, does give us a sense of what a team is capable of doing at Championships and what it will have to strive to beat in order to win. So let's take it a step further and look at the ideal performances for each top 12 team as recorded so far this season (season highs on each event).

Since home scores can usually get a little imaginative, take this with a necessary shaker of salt. This is not a predictor of postseason scoring but a guide to team potential. As a reference point, over the last few years, the national champion has ended up with a Super Six score somewhere between two and five tenths lower than the season ideal. Teams almost never exceed their season ideals in the postseason, so also take this as a potential indicator of postseason ceiling (with, of course, a few weeks left to improve these numbers). Next week, I'll come down off this cloud and look at road scores. 

Team ideal performances - (season high scores on each apparatus)

1. Florida
Vault: 49.625
Bars: 49.675
Beam: 49.600
Floor: 49.700
Total: 198.600 (Rank: 1)

2. Oklahoma
Vault: 49.525
Bars: 49.575
Beam: 49.600
Floor: 49.675
Total: 198.375 (Rank: 2)
(Hmm, that number looks familiar.)

3. Michigan
Vault: 49.400
Bars: 49.375
Beam: 49.275
Floor: 49.625
Total: 197.675 (Rank: 8)
The lower scoring ceiling may be a concern for the Wolverines as we head to the final weeks.

4. LSU
Vault: 49.550
Bars: 49.450
Beam: 49.275
Floor: 49.525
Total: 197.800 (Rank: T3)
(As I mentioned on Monday, LSU does quite well in the ideal world. It's whether they can hit beam to make it to the ideal world that is cause for concern.)

5. Alabama
Vault: 49.475
Bars: 49.400
Beam: 49.425
Floor: 49.500
Total: 197.800 (Rank: T3)

Vault: 49.350
Bars: 49.300
Beam: 49.300
Floor: 49.550
Total: 197.500 (Rank: 11)
(This is why people are worried about you, UCLA.)

March 4, 2013

Week 9 Rankings and Notes

Into the final quarter of the year we head, and the era of solidifying lineups and cleaning routines begins.

1. Florida – 197.440
Week 9: 198.425
Week 9 leaders: AA - Hunter 39.800; VT - Hunter 9.975; UB - M Caquatto 9.975; BB - Sloan 9.975; FX - King 9.975.

So much for everything I said last week about the #2 ranking being the ideal position for the Gators so as to slightly lessen their status as the expected champion. As was true with Oklahoma last week, the score itself is irrelevant and won't be maintained to this degree away from home. What's more important is that the people who will be counted on in the postseason recovered while the lower (relative term) scores in the meet came from those who won't remain in the lineup. Florida is on a well-timed bye this week, but watch those lineups the next week to see how the leadoff spots are being handled (i.e., get rid of anything under a 9.825) along with the status of Alaina Johnson.

2. Oklahoma – 197.410
Week 9: 197.275
Week 9 leaders: AA - Brewer 39.300; VT - Olson 9.975; UB - Olson 9.900; BB - Spears 9.950; FX - Olson, Albright 9.900

There was always going to be a letdown from last week. Through the first two events, the Sooners' performance did not waver significantly from the home 198, but the landings were not as precise, which ended up accounting for some of the depression in scores and meant that those 9.925s became 9.850s. If Oklahoma is to contend for the title, that contention will be built on sticking almost every landing. A fall and some 9.7s marred the beam rotation, but otherwise the issues appeared minor and very March-like. The Sooners have two home meets over the weekend, so expect some backups and some resting (especially in the first meet since the second is senior night). 

March 2, 2013

The American Cup of America for Americans – Live Blog

The elites are here. I hope you're not ready for it because I'm not either. The season after the Olympics is always a weird one featuring a heterogeneous mix of elite veterans hanging onto a series of broken limbs while they wait for NCAA or the sweet release of retirement who are bumping up against new seniors trying to prove that their talent is more interesting than that of the people we've already forgotten.

Four years ago, this is the event where a little pink-adorned Jordyn Wieber brought her Amanar to the world stage and beat Olympic team member Bridget Sloan. USAG was going for a similar dynamic this year by inviting the stick-around Olympian, this time Kyla Ross, to compete against the preordained star of the quad, Katelyn Ohashi. (That is, after Elizabeth Price pulled out.) Ross then also pulled out with a heel injury that did not prevent her from doing podium training, and she has been replaced by a muscle named Simone Biles who sports a Maroneyesque Yurchenko 2.5. Both can contend for the World team this year, but that is a premature conversation until we know who is going to pretend to compete this year and who isn't even going to bother.

This competition will send a very important message:

Dear Everyone over the Age of 16,

You have been forgotten. You are elderly wrecks. Go sit in a rocking chair or dance with some stars or something. It's time to meet the new crop.

March 1, 2013

All Kinds of Friday Action – Florida, Oklahoma, Georgia, LSU, UCLA, Alabama

Friday – 3/1/13
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [14] Minnesota @ [2] Florida Scores
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Ball State @ [19] Kent State
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Nastia's Pink Leotard Jamboree Scores
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [1] Oklahoma @ Texas Woman's Scores Video
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [7] Georgia @ [5] LSU Scores
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [23] Maryland @ [11] Auburn Scores Video(all access)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Missouri, Centenary, Lindenwood @ [25] Arkansas Scores
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – [6] UCLA @ [4] Alabama Scores Video(free)
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [8] Utah, NC State @ BYU Scores
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – [9] Oregon State, Cal @ [12] Stanford