There are a lot of great matchups this weekend. LSU travels to Florida, and fans may get their first chance to see Alex McMurtry make her college debut on floor. The big Alabama-Georgia rivalry also shapes up Friday night and Michigan will try to bounce back from being upset at Southern Utah in a top 4 matchup with Oklahoma. There’s a lot of good gymnastics this weekend, and you don’t want to miss one bit.
As always, we’ll tell you who we think will win these top meets, give previews of other notable matchups and provide scoring and video links for every competition happening between Friday and Monday. And once again, we’re welcoming Casey to the pick em panel! But we don’t want to be the only ones with opinions. We want to hear your opinions too! So play along by answering who you think will win each matchup by participating in the polls. And if you feel strongly about your choices, feel free to let us know in the comments below. The records from last week’s college pick em are as follows: Casey (2-2), Elizabeth (3-1), fan vote (3-1).
No. 7 LSU at No. 2 Florida: Friday, February 26 at 7:00 p.m. ET
LSU Preview | Florida Preview
Florida has been good but not perfect this season. LSU has had issues here and there but really turned it up and showed its a team to watch out for last weekend against Auburn. LSU has the edge on vault, simply because of difficulty. However, if Bridget Sloan finally throws the Yurchenko one and a half (what are you waiting for?!), the Gators could bring it closer to even. Likewise, Florida has the advantage on bars, with stronger routines with higher scoring potential. LSU has been less consistent with almost everyone in the usual lineup falling at least once this season. Beam could go either way. When the Tigers hit, they are great (and not to mention beautiful!), but Jenny Rowland is a beam coach extraordinaire, so you can bet Florida will hit when it counts. In a neutral-site meet, floor would certainly go to LSU. Florida doesn’t have the depth and the first couple of routines aren’t as strong as LSU’s. However, with Florida at home, literally anything could happen. We honestly wouldn’t be surprised with six perfect 10s… And now with the rumor that Alex McMurtry might make her collegiate debut on the event, things get even more interesting.
No. 12 Stanford at No. 17 Oregon State: Monday, February 29 at 10:00 p.m. ET
Stanford Preview | Oregon State Preview
This meet actually has the ingredients to be a pretty exciting competition. Stanford away is really at the same level as Oregon State at home. While on paper, the Cardinal is the better team, but no one ever knows what to do with it during the regular season. The Beavers finally seemed to have gotten it together last weekend, in part because of kaytianna McMillan and Maddie Gardiner’s strong performances. If they can put together another set of routines like that and get some help from their teammates, there’s a good chance of beating No. 12. Stanford needs hits from everyone at the same time to really do something big. It’s scored a number of 195s and 196s this season so far, so now the goal is 197. With no home meets left, doing it on the road will be more difficult but still doable. Elizabeth Price needs to continue to do Elizabeth Price things, Ivana Hong needs to hit her events and the McNair sisters need to remain their consistent-selves to give Stanford the win.
No. 10 Georgia at No. 3 Alabama: Friday, February 26 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Georgia Preview | Alabama Preview
In one of the biggest rivalries in not just NCAA gymnastics but all of sports, Georgia will travel to Alabama for a top 10 matchup. The Gymdogs aren’t what they were in the early 2000s but have shown that when they hit, they can produce a very strong score capable of beating even the nation’s top teams. We say it every week, but Alabama seems to still be toying with lineups. It’s getting to the point where Dana Duckworth needs to settle on something and allow the girls to get a bit of normalcy and consistency with their gymnastics to be able to produce their best when the time comes. It’s great to explore depth, but now we know what the backups are capable of. it’s time to settle and start building upon scores. Alabama has been upset at home already this season, could this meet be another?
No. 4 Michigan at No. 1 Oklahoma: Friday, February 26 at 8:00 p.m. ET
Michigan Preview | Oklahoma Preview
Michigan is coming off its worst performance of the year (by a mile, too), as it was upset by Southern Utah last weekend. The Wolverines fell apart on beam for the second time this year after holding a streak of 49.0+ on every event for over a year. While Oklahoma is very hard to beat at home, Michigan should at least look to post a 197 on the road, something it has yet to do in 2016. It has been consistent, but consistency only gets a team so far. Oklahoma is sitting pretty in the top spot in the nation even after the switch to RQS. It could sit the rest of the regular season out and still sail into regionals, and most likely as a top seed. But that’s not the Sooners style. They’ll take this home opportunity to post another 198 to add to their already impressive average. And to do that, they need to work on vault landings and floor details. But should the Sooners make a mistake here or there and Michigan have one of its best meets of the season, an upset could be brewing.
No. 5 Utah at No. 14 California: Saturday, February 27 at 4:00 p.m. ET
Utah Preview | California Preview
Utah is the stronger team. But California did just upset UCLA at home a couple week ago, so anything can happen. Having proved it can survive without Kari Lee, the Utes are establishing themselves as a strong bars team with other notable performances on vault and floor. They also have the routines on beam but the consistency is still a small step away from being considered reliable. Producing another solid road mark will help Utah’s case with RQS. California won’t be satisfied with its result at Oregon State last weekend. It came off two highs in a row to fall at Oregon State. And it was in part due to Toni-Ann Williams having a bad meet. A team shouldn’t fall apart because one gymnast has an off day, so the rest of the Golden Bears will need to step up their game this weekend to help support Williams. And there’s a good chance of the team bouncing back strong at home.
Other Notable Matchups
No. 22 Kentucky at No. 9 Arkansas: Friday, February 26 at 8:00 p.m. ET
Kentucky Preview | Arkansas Preview
Arkansas is battling it out with Auburn for the last night spot at the SEC championships and fending off Georgia at the same time. So posting at least a high 196 but preferable a 197 this weekend at home is crucial. The Razorbacks have gotten low-balled a couple of occasions this season, so being in front of home judges and a home crowd should help. Kentucky has been solidly average. Not doing enough to put its name in the conversation, but also improving upon last year’s efforts. The freshmen and other underclassmen continue to produce a majority of the success, so getting strong performances from everyone is the next step toward moving up in the rankings.
No. 16 Missouri at No. 8 Auburn: Friday, February 26 at 8:00 p.m. ET
Missouri Preview | Auburn Preview
It’s another matchup between Tigers. Missouri has pulled a couple of upsets out this season. However, with the meet being in Auburn, another feat of the sort will be harder to come by. The Tigers are strong when Britney Ward and Kennedi Harris hit, but when they fall and others have mistakes, the team is vulnerable. Auburn is currently holding the last spot in the night session of the SEC championships and will look to hold onto the position this weekend. Continuing to build upon its success at the last meet where it beat Alabama for the first time in 37 years will be helpful in the team’s success. Hitting beam and improving vault landings will help achieve that.
No. 46 Arizona State at No. 6 UCLA: Saturday, February 27 at 4:00 p.m. ET
ASU Preview | UCLA Preview
UCLA should win this one easily, and if it doesn’t, it really needs to rethink its life choices. So since it should be an easy W for the Bruins, the team needs to focus more on getting its strong players back in the lineups, finding consistency in its supporting roles and not have those random mistakes that put all the pressure on the end-of-the-lineup routines to get 9.9+. Peng-Peng, out last week with a sore knee, needs to figure out beam. She has fallen more than hit so far this season. Pua Hall has also mysteriously disappeared, so that needs to be worked out as well as getting Hallie Mossett and Katelyn Ohashi healthy. As for Arizona State, things re moving in the right direction. Consistency is slowly coming along, so doing more of that in an away meet atmosphere is the next step.
No. 27 Washington at No. 25 Arizona: Saturday, February 27 at 6:00 p.m. ET
Washington Preview | Arizona Preview
These teams are actually pretty closely matched, which should make for an exciting meet. So far this season, Arizona has done a bit better at home, so it should have the edge in this competition. The Wildcats are finally beginning to put it all together on every event. With more improvement on vault and the team could move itself up the ranks. Washington has come on strong in the last couple of meets, especially this past weekend against UCLA. The Huskies came close to upsetting the Bruins for the second time in a row in Seattle but lost steam on floor. Cleaning up landings here and there and improving upon vault details could make the matchup in Tucson interesting.
No. 18 Iowa, No. 49 SEMO, Illinois-Chicago at No. 13 Denver: Saturday, February 27 at 8:00 p.m. ET
Iowa Preview | Denver Preview
Despite an off meet last weekend, Iowa has come on strong in 2016. The Hawkeyes are now sitting inside the top 20 for the first time since 2004 and have no plans on stopping the rise now. Denver has also been on a surge. Nina McGee and company have been flirting with the top 12 for pretty much the entire season, and have a real chance of breaking in with a couple more solid scores before the end of the season. Denver will most likely win this one, but if there are mistakes here and there, Iowa has a real chance of taking the upset.
These aren’t the only meets happening this weekend! To see all the matchups all 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