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Tourney Time for Gymnastics: Athens Regional Preview

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There is a time, and the time is now.

Time to get serious
Time to get serious
@lsugym

The march to the Super Six gets underway tomorrow, as the Lady Tigers travel to Athens for its regional. Despite being on the road, in a gym where LSU suffered its worst loss of the season no less, LSU is the top seed and overwhelmingly favored to advance.

To recap, six teams will compete in the regional, and the top two will advance. Here's a quick look at the field:

Rank

Team

RQS

High

3

LSU

197.695

197.925

9

Georgia

197.010

197.525

13

Oregon St

196.575

196.925

22

Arizona

196.155

196.850

27

George Washington

195.905

196.600

36

Michigan St

195.385

196.350

Let's put those high scores into perspective. LSU's lowest score of the season in a competitive match was a 196.575 against Kentucky in the SEC opener. LSU has scored under 197 only once in the past two months, a 196.800 score at Georgia.

So, if LSU has its worst meet of the past two months, it would be nearly good enough to beat half of the field, even if they put up their season high score. There is little excuse for LSU not to advance out of this regional, but that is, as they say, why they play the games. Every team is just one bad day on the beam or the bars away from going home early.

Instead of breaking it down by team, let's look at this meet by event, so we can try and identify the areas in which we can maximize our panic. That's the kind of full service you expect from ATVS. First, the rotation schedule.

Rotation

Vault

Bye

Bars

Beam

Bye

Floor

1

Michigan St.

LSU

George Washington

Georgia

Arizona

Oregon St.

2

Oregon St.

Michigan St.

LSU

George Washington

Georgia

Arizona

3

Arizona

Oregon St.

Michigan St.

LSU

George Washington

Georgia

4

Georgia

Arizona

Oregon St.

Michigan St.

LSU

George Washington

5

George Washington

Georgia

Arizona

Oregon St.

Michigan St.

LSU

6

LSU

George Washington

Georgia

Arizona

Oregon St.

Michigan St.

This is a good rotation schedule for LSU, as befits the top seed. LSU will get the traditionally two toughest rotations out of the way first, the bars and then the beam. So if LSU has a lead at the halfway point, this meet is already over. After the second bye, LSU then closes on floor and vault, the two highest scoring rotations, and also two events LSU excels at. LSU has a chance to put up big scores late to put the meet away instead of competing on lower scoring rotations and hoping someone else doesn't score too big.

Georgia has one of the worst schedules. They start on the beam, their nightmare, so we'll know pretty quickly what kind of meet the Gym Dawgs are going to have. They also close on the bars, which doesn't score as high as the vault or floor. They need to amass points in the middle of the meet. So they don't get to build an early lead, nor do they get to have the hammer at the end. Tough draw. Oregon St. has the opposite schedule of LSU, getting a chance to stake out an early lead on floor and vault, and then cling for life on bars and beam. However, the Beavers are a weird team, and they tend to score low on floor and high on the beam, so maybe this schedule is perfect for them. More concerning for the Beavers is that their final rotation is a bye, so they have to sit and watch after the fifth rotation, hoping they've done enough to advance.

VAULT

Rank

Team

RQS

High

1

LSU

49.445

49.550

3

Georgia

49.415

49.525

21

Oregon St

49.025

49.125

29

Arizona

48.945

49.175

23

George Washington

49.000

49.150

39

Michigan St

48.085

49.000

This is a huge rotation for LSU. Look at the massive gap in scores between the two SEC squads and the rest of the field. Not only does LSU routinely score higher than the field here, it is on a rotation in which big scores are routine. This is a critical rotation for LSU, and especially Georgia, because this is where they want to build a near insurmountable lead. LSU doesn't need to beat Georgia on this rotation, but they do want to be up by around three tenths of a point on whoever is in third, which would be behind the season averages.

The gap in potential score is widest here than anywhere else, so this is where LSU needs to assert its dominance. Due to the rotation schedule, LSU won't get to the vault until its final rotation, so this is like the final weapon waiting to be deployed. LSU knows it will have a chance to finish up strong.

BARS

Rank

Team

RQS

High

5

LSU

49.370

49.475

9

Georgia

49.280

49.400

10

Oregon St

49.270

49.425

22

Arizona

49.075

49.150

26

George Washington

49.020

49.175

35

Michigan St

48.940

49.225

See why the vault is so important? Things get much tighter on the bars. LSU is still the top scoring team, but their RQS is only a tenth of a point higher than Oregon St, the third ranked team in the regional. This is the rotation on which LSU does not have a real scoring advantage, and it's quite likely that either Georgia or Oregon St wins this rotation, as those two will be in a real dogfight for the second slot to advance.

Bars is the event that has given LSU the most difficulty this season. If the Tigers are going to struggle on a rotation, this is your best bet. So the goal here is not to put up huge scores, but to not put up bad ones. This should be a conservative rotation for LSU. Even though it's the first rotation for LSU that is not a bye, it will be tough to control those nerves. If there's an opportunity for one of the lower seeded teams to pull of the shocker, it's going to come right here. This is where LSU is most vulnerable, and its competition is most strong.

BEAM

Rank

Team

RQS

High

3

LSU

49.355

49.575

18

Georgia

49.180

49.425

10

Oregon St

49.230

49.525

14

Arizona

49.195

49.250

25

George Washington

49.085

49.325

50

Michigan St

48.610

49.175

Oh, Satan's Apparatus will do its work. DD Breaux's mantra is "win the beam, win the meet." If that's true, Georgia is in some deep doggy poo. You can trace their team's struggles entirely to this one event, and when they pulled the upset against LSU two months ago, everything came together on the beam. They may have the confidence to pull it off against the same team again, or they could be nerve-wracked by seeing they are only the fourth ranked team out of the six on this rotation. If Georgia fails to advance, it's going to because of the beam.

LSU likes to put teams away on the beam, but there's a huge risk here. This field is full of teams who are really good at the beam as well. This is Oregon St's specialty, and their chances of advancement depend on this rotation, while Arizona's longshot chances also ride on the beam. This is also the rotation in which a disastrously low score is the most common, and it's not out of the realm of possibility LSU has to carry a fall. If they do, the door is swung wide open and we have ourselves a meet. LSU can't be as conservative as they should be on the beam, but it is also critical that the Tigers do not carry a fall score. That's how upsets happen. I'm looking forward to the beam, it should be the most intense and competitive rotation at the regional. And Breaux is probably right, the winner will likely advance.

FLOOR

Rank

Team

RQS

High

2

LSU

49.545

49.700

9

Georgia

49.385

49.625

21

Oregon St

49.185

49.400

30

Arizona

49.105

49.375

23

George Washington

49.170

49.375

18

Michigan St

49.225

49.400

Look at those high scores. Just about anyone has the chance to put up a big score on floor, which is why it is such a huge event: the possibility of a massive score. Michigan St will have a chance to salvage their meet in the final rotation, which is perfect for LSU. LSU goes on floor on the fifth rotation, the last major contender to do so. The Spartans aren't expected to factor in the all-around, so LSU will know exactly what it needs to do on the floor, and get those big scores.

This is where the tables turn on the Beavers. After having that huge edge on the beam, now they give that advantage right back to the Bulldogs. Also, Georgia will be in front of the home crowd and able to feed off the crowd's energy. That's how big scores happen. Georgia probably needs to go over a 49.500 on this event to feel comfortable. This is their chance to, if not win the meet, at least secure a spot in Fort Worth.

Hopefully, that will be as the second place team behind LSU. The Tigers should win this meet, but Athens has not been kind to the team this year.

The meet starts at 3pm CT on Saturday and will be carried live on SECN+.