Last week was full of cancelled meets and upsets. And there weren’t even that many good matchups going in. This week there are more. With top ranked teams facing off and lots of other exciting competitions, there’s lots to look forward to. As always, we took a look at the top meets and picked who we thought would come out on top. We also previewed a handful of other notable competitions and provide links to all the scores and video streams you need for the weekend’s events.
The records so far for our 2016 season college pick em are as follows: Emily (11-4), Elizabeth (12-3), fan vote (10-5).
But we don’t want to be the only ones with opinions. We want to hear yours too! So play along by answering who you think will win each matchup in our Twitter polls. And if you feel strongly about your choices, feel free to let us know in the comments below.
No. 5 Alabama at No. 1 Florida: Friday, January 29 at 7 p.m. ET
Alabama Preview | Florida Preview
This competition is set up to be a good one. Alabama will have something to prove after a half-beamplosion Friday night against Arkansas. Florida will also be back home, so that’s really all that needs to be said on that subject. But in all seriousness, the Gators will be looking to hone in on those landings, handstands and small errors we’re still seeing in some of the routines. Bridget Sloan had a very un-Bridget Sloan moment on beam, so expect her to be back in butter-princess form again. The vault lineup needs to start thinking about more difficulty as well. It’s time for Sloan to bust out the one and a half. While other teams are slowly adding 10.0 start values to their repertoires, the Gators are lagging behind. The Crimson Tide needs to start shoring up its lineups. We’re all for exploring depth, but it’s getting to be that time where consistency is key. Especially against a No. 1 Florida team at home.
Metroplex Challenge: Saturday, January 30 at 8 p.m. ET
No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 6 LSU, No. 12 Stanford, No. 16 Missouri, No. 36 Washington
Oklahoma Preview | LSU Preview | Stanford Preview | Missouri Preview | Washington Preview
Metroplex is typically a lower-scoring competition, so don’t expect many teams to earn season-highs this weekend. LSU is picking up speed again after that beamtastrophy in Las Vegas. Vault and floor are there but bars and beam still need work. Counting a fall on an event that is known to be Jay Clark's specialty is a no-no. For Oklahoma, things are in a good place. The Sooners hit a season-high last weekend with a total just two tenths under Florida’s nation-leading mark from a couple weeks ago. Beam (of all events) and floor still need cleaning up, but overall the Sooners will just be looking for another strong road mark to use come RQS. Stanford forgot it was still January when it scored a mid-196 at home last weekend. The Cardinal will look to continue on that pace rather than throw out one more 194 before the month ends. Floor is beginning to come into form but vault still featured a Yurchenko layout. We saw a training video of Taryn Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Price working upgraded vaults. We know they exist now, so those need to make an appearance soon. Missouri has been a pleasant surprise this season. It’s already upset Penn State and Georgia by capitalizing on those teams’ mistakes. Behind Britney Ward, Kennedi Harris and Shauna Miller, this team is one to keep an eye out for if the other top teams falter. Washington hasn’t been as sharp this year, but it’s slowly getting better each week. The Huskies will look to continue the trend in Texas.
No. 9 Auburn at No. 8 Arkansas: Friday, January 29 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Auburn Preview | Arkansas Preview
This is another surprisingly interesting matchup we wouldn’t have pegged as so before the start of the season. Auburn has remained near the heights of its 2015 season and Arkansas has done better than expected so far in 2016. Both teams are similar in that they both have weaknesses that need to be worked through as well as obvious strengths. Arkansas is coming off a high after defeating Alabama in Tuscaloosa for the first time and second year in a row, which should bring confidence to the team. Auburn put up a strong showing against Florida, but still needs to work out the kinks on vault and beam. If it can do that, it might have a shot at Arkansas.
No. 3 Michigan at No. 17 Nebraska: Friday, January 29 at 7 p.m. ET
Michigan Preview | Nebraska Preview
It’s time for Michigan to get out of the 196.9s. It’s been four weeks now, and the team is too good to have plateaued before even hitting 197. So this meet for the Wolverines is more about getting that mark while still remaining their usual steady-eddy selves than beating Nebraska. If the apocalypse occurs and Michigan counts a fall or scores under a 49 for the first time since 2014, the results could be a different story. But don’t expect it to happen. Nebraska, on the other hand, is still working itself out of the hole it put itself in after the first meet. Now sitting back inside the top 20, the Huskers have been hot and cold. How the team does will depend partly on whether Ashley Lambert is back in the lineups (going from doing the all around to nothing is a bit strange if there’s no injury) and whether Jennie Laeng can bounce back from an off showing last weekend where the B1G co-bars champion recorded only a 9.45 on the event and an 8.4 on beam.
No. 4 UCLA at No. 21 California: Monday, February 1 at 10 p.m. ET
UCLA Preview | California Preview
Before the season, we might have said this matchup would be a close one. But so far, UCLA has exceeded expectations and Cal has been slightly underwhelming. However, the Golden Bears are on the rise, hitting numerous season-highs at the Stanford tri-meet last Sunday. Bars and beam are imroving but still have room to grow while floor is becoming a strength for the team behind Zoe Draghi’s excellent choreography and Toni-Ann Williams’ difficulty. Vault is fine, but doesn’t have the ups some of the other top teams are showing. UCLA is proving to be a force this year, sitting at No. 4 in the country in front of the likes of Alabama, LSU and Utah. The Bruin freshman are providing the help the team needs after Sam Peszek’s graduation, but bars and vault can still be an issue at times. Beam and floor are excellent, so continuing that while improving the remaining two events will bring the Bruins to a whole new level.
No. 20 Arizona at No. 7 Utah: Monday, February 1 at 8 p.m. ET
Arizona Preview | Utah Preview
Arizona is on the up and up this year but is still a ways away from upsetting Utah at home. The Tabitha Yim-led team looked stellar on beam against UCLA last weekend, but still needs to put in the numbers on vault. Floor is also getting there. With continual improvements in consistency and little details, Arizona will look to put up a strong away score in Salt Lake City to erase the not-great 193 it had against Texas Woman’s earlier this month once RQS rolls around. Utah, on the other hand, needs to fix floor. It lost basically the entire floor lineup from last year and Kari Lee just went down with a season-ending injury, so the team will have to work even harder to make up for all the losses on the event. The underclassmen especially will need to step up to fill the holes so Utah can get back to a place it's used to being in.
Other Notable Matchups
No. 13 Georgia at No. 23 Kentucky: Friday, January 29 at 7 p.m. ET
Georgia Preview | Kentucky Preview
Scoring at Kentucky has always been a bit tight. Just a couple years ago, the Gymdogs and Wildcats tied in a controversial meet in Lexington. Looking at Georgia’s stats on vault, bars and floor — events where the team is in the top six — you’d say it will easily come away with the win. But you can’t run three-quarters of a race, start walking and still expect to win. That’s exactly what Georgia’s doing, though. It has a phenomenal showing on vault, bars and floor but then completely loses its mind on beam. Last week the team “improved” on the event by having only three falls and a missed connection. But that’s still unexcusable for a group that can potentially hit 197 every week with just a hit and not even anything outstanding. Kentucky has looked good this year, at least compared to last. The freshmen are the stars so far with Sidney Dukes, Alex Hyland and Katie Stuart performing well. If Georgia hasn’t figured out beam yet, there’s a very real chance of the it leaves Lexington with yet another loss and a whole lot of disappointment.
No. 19 Illinois at No. 32 Penn State: Friday, January 29 at 7 p.m. ET
Illinois Preview | Penn State Preview
Both teams have looked so-so this year. But both teams also have potential they’re not reaching yet. Illinois was supposed to be the sleeper team this year, making nationals under everyone’s noses. Penn State has Briannah Tsang and the addition of Kiera Brown to help out, but the mysterious disappearance of their assistant coach and struggles on beam and less-than-average performances on the rest of the events have it underperforming. The Illini needs to be more than Giana O’Connor and Mary Jane Horth if they want to win and move up in the standings. And the same goes for Tsang, Brown and the Nittany Lions.
No.14 Denver at No. 44 Bowling Green: Saturday, January 30 at 4 p.m. ET
Denver Preview | Bowling Green Preview
Denver will win this one even with an off meet. But the more important thing, besides Nina McGee continuing to slay, is putting up a solid road score to add to their average. The Pioneers have been slowly moving up in the rankings and have a chance of breaking into the top 12 with a couple of consistent meets in the coming weeks. No one knows where Rachel Fielitz and Maggie Laughlin went, but having them back in the lineups will be a crucial part of the jump in the standings.
No. 18 Minnesota at No. 27 Ohio State: Saturday, January 30 at 4 p.m. ET
Minnesota Preview | Ohio State Preview
Minnesota has been slowly rising since the beginning of the season’s slow start. However, it still has a long way to go if it wants to do anything relevant in the postseason for Lindsay Mable’s last season. Speaking of the beauty that is Mable, she hasn’t looked like the phenom she is so far in 2016. Two of the three meets so far she’s had a mistake on one of her four events. But we have full confidence she’ll find her consistency and impress like she normally does. Ohio State is doing OK but not great. Sometimes it’s beam that holds the Buckeyes back, and sometimes it’s bars. Sometimes it’s both, but either way, the team needs to work on its consistency to bring it up from average to the next level.
No. 47 Arizona State at No. 15 Oregon State: Saturday, January 30 at 7 p.m. ET
Arizona State Preview | Oregon State Preview
Oregon State was clinging to a top 12 ranking for a while but a meh performance at Utah dropped the Beavers down to No. 15. Maddie Gardiner continues to be the team’s star, but the rest of the gymnasts on beam needs to step it up if the they want to get back into the nationals mix. Having Kaytianna McMillan back on bars and beam helped but working her back into the other lineups will be important in the long run. Then there’s Arizona State. Oh Arizona State, what are we going to do with you? Congrats on hitting a season-high last weekend, but there’s still Grand Canyon-sized room for improvement. When the team hits, the routines actually look good, but when it falters, it really falters. Consistency is an issue that needs to be remedied and working on keeping the mistakes from turning into avalanches is also crucial.
These aren’t the only meets happening this weekend! To see all the matchups in one place, take a look at our master schedule. You can also find live scoring and video links below.
Days until the 2017 National Championships