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Gym Preview: Lincoln Regional

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Heavy is the head that wears the crown

Gnat is ridiculous
Gnat is ridiculous
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Now, the second season begins. LSU has already secured the SEC regular season and postseason titles, now it is time to move on to the national hardware. The first step is a regional meet in Omaha, Nebraska. The top two teams from the region will move on, and LSU is a heavy favorite. Anything short of a convincing win would be an upset, but it's the postseason, and there are no second chances.

Let's meet the competition:

TEAM

RQS

Average

High

#2 LSU

197.865

197.744

198.150

#11 Boise St

196.910

196.683

197.675

#14 Nebraska

196.725

196.180

197.175

#25 Arizona

195.880

195.373

196.275

#29 Iowa St

195.750

195.310

196.600

#36 Minnesota

195.420

195.036

196.800

Let's put into perspective how greatly LSU outclassed this field in the regular season. This is not to point out the other teams aren't good, these are the teams good enough to qualify for the postseason so obviously they are good, but to point out how truly superlative LSU's season has been.

LSU's worst score of the season was a 197.425 against Missouri. That low score is not only higher than every other team's Regional Qualifying Score, it is better than every team's high score on the season save Boise St, who only topped that number once.

Look, anything can happen in a one-off event. Someone could fall or take massive deductions, followed by another disastrous performance, forcing LSU to carry a huge negative score. It is possible. But by any reasonable measure, LSU far outclasses a field that includes no other team in the top 10 and literally the last team let into the field (Minnesota).

It gets more pronounced as we look at each event, listing the national rank in the specific rotation instead of the all-around score in front of each team:

VAULT

TEAM

RQS

Average

High

#1 LSU

49.540

49.431

49.625

#14 Boise St

49.170

49.083

49.325

#13 Nebraska

49.185

49.140

49.275

#34 Arizona

48.880

48.809

49.125

#25 Iowa St

49.000

48.844

49.250

#24 Minnesota

49.010

48.866

49.225

LSU boast the top vault team in the country. The Tigers will close on the vault instead of starting there. LSU will start on the bars and the beam, taking a bye, then floor and vault, with their final rotation being a bye. So, if all is going according to plan, this is when LSU will be taking its final bow. The Tigers will likely outscore the closest team by three tenths of a point, as this is a team specialty and none of the other teams is a real standout.

However, this should be a great rotation for determining the second slot at Nationals. There's not a huge gap in the Regional Qualifying Scores, save for Arizona, lagging behind the pack. But look at their season highs. Everyone tops out at about the same place, meaning anyone can have a big night and take this rotation. This will be a huge battle for points that hopefully, LSU will be able to sit out.

BARS

TEAM

RQS

Average

High

#3 LSU

49.415

49.367

49.500

#5 Boise St

49.395

49.300

49.500

#9 Nebraska

49.295

49.188

49.425

#14 Arizona

49.215

48.932

49.275

#31 Iowa St

49.015

48.865

49.200

#30 Minnesota

49.025

48.568

49.125

Not only is this LSU's weakest event, the field is loaded with team's that can exploit any weakness. To make matters worse, the Tigers will begin the meet on the bars. So we will know pretty quickly what kind of meet we are in for. If LSU struggles early, the door is officially open for everybody to walk through. Boise St competes on the bars on the third rotation. If it is still a close meet at that point, LSU might be in for a fight.

Boise St. is every bit as good as LSU on this event, boasting a near identical RQS and an exact match on the season high score. But even looking down the start list, Nebraska and Arizona are both capable of putting up a big score and beating LSU if the Tigers do not bring their best effort. LSU needs to start big and crush everyone's hopes right off the bat. If LSU struggles on the bars, just about every team knows it can pick up valuable points on this rotation.

BEAM

TEAM

RQS

Average

High

#2 LSU

49.505

49.442

49.575

#13 Boise St

49.280

49.208

49.400

#22 Nebraska

49.055

48.785

49.275

#39 Arizona

48.850

48.677

49.300

#31 Iowa St

48.920

48.663

49.425

#40 Minnesota

48.825

48.441

49.050

Win the beam, win the meet. If DD Breaux's exhortation proves true, LSU will be in good shape. On their best night, only Boise St. can really compete with LSU, barring carrying a fall. Even if LSU doesn't put up a big score on bars, they can still put the meet away early on bars. While most teams simply try to survive the beam, LSU goes for the jugular. This is a chance to put up a huge score while everyone else is trying to just crack 49.000.

This is also where Boise St. is hoping to pull away from the field. The Broncos aren't nearly as proficient as the Tigers on the beam, but there is some separation between their scores and the rest of the field. If they can put up a good number near their season average, it should buy the team needed daylight against any would-be contenders.

FLOOR

TEAM

RQS

Average

High

#2 LSU

49.545

49.504

49.625

#17 Boise St

49.215

49.093

49.500

#11 Nebraska

49.300

49.068

49.550

#28 Arizona

49.100

48.955

49.200

#30 Iowa St

49.085

48.940

49.300

#14 Minnesota

49.245

49.161

49.450

Hey, check out Minnesota at the bottom of the table! The Gophers will also get to lead off on the floor, so it's entirely possible they will be among the leaders early in this meet, and then try desperately to cling on to that high placing.

Minnesota is symbolic of everything that is great about the floor exercise: anyone can turn out a huge score. It is the big, crowd-pleasing rotation full of big performances and even bigger scores. Look at that High Score column. It's not outside the realm of impossible LSU could be in fourth on this event, and that's without having a bad day. Throw in Nebraska competing in front of the home crowd, and you can picture the Huskers pulling off the upset, based upon their season high score on floor.

LSU is still the heavy favorite, but there is at least a roadmap for defeat. Start slow on the bars, fall on the beam, and now the pressure is on. LSU turns in a good not great floor routine, failing to gain any ground, and then LSU goes into the vault needing a big score to advance. It's not a likely scenario, but it is plausible. Heavy favorites or no, this is the postseason, and everybody is one bad meet away from going home.

It's dragon season.