Two weeks down and only 12 to go in the NCAA Gymnastics season. After an exciting and intriguing first two weeks of the season, with plenty of kinks to be worked out for the top teams, the new season is firmly heating up in week three as rivalry matchups and marquee meets take center stage in week three.
With all of the top teams in action and some thrilling meets scheduled across the weekend, plus a bonus day of collegiate competition on Monday thanks to MLK Day, week three should be the best weekend of action yet as lineups begin to settle and rankings shuffle more and more.
Here’s what to look for this weekend in NCAA Gym:
Marquee Meet of the Week: (3) Florida vs. (5) LSU- Friday, January 18: 8:40 PM ET- SEC Network
The most highly-anticipated SEC meet of the regular season, the annual rivalry matchup between conference foes Florida and LSU has become a feature of so many collegiate sports, from football to baseball to gymnastics. On the gym floor, the Gators and Tigers have separated themselves to become the two dominant powers of the SEC, winning the last three SEC Championship titles.
Revenge will be on the mind of both teams come Friday night in Baton Rouge, with the Gators looking to avenge two straight regular season losses to their rivals, while LSU will have a point to prove that their poor performance last weekend in a loss to Auburn was a one-time occurrence.
On paper, the Gators come in with an electric roster and a star-studded freshmen class, but the intangible advantage for LSU of competing at home in the PMAC, one of the best venues in all of NCAA Gymnastics, will be just enough to life the Tiger to another rivalry victory.
(17) Alabama vs. (10) Georgia – Friday, January 18: 7:30 PM ET – SEC Network
From the newest rivalry of SEC Gymnastics powerhouses to the one of a decade ago, there is no rivalry that has defined collegiate gymnastics like Alabama and Georgia has. Led by legendary head coaches Sarah Patterson and Suzanne Yoculan, the Tide and Bulldogs ascended to the top of the NCAA, dominating the sport and winning a combined 16 national championship titles during that span.
The last few years have seen the transition and revival of both programs, with Dana Duckworth and Courtney Kupets looking to reclaim that winning tradition that echoes through the halls of both teams.
Alabama has continued to prove its place amongst the sport’s elite with many SEC Championship titles and Super Six appearances in the post-Patterson world, however most important of all, the Tide have gone undefeated against Georgia in that time span. With a massive new freshman class, Courtney Kupets in her second season as head coach, and that classic Stegeman advantage, this will be the start of the Georgia dynasty part two in the SEC.
(19) Arizona State vs. (2) UCLA – Monday, January 21: 5 ET – Pac 12 Network
An interesting matchup awaits Pac 12 gymnastics fans on Martin Luther King Day in Westwood, as a resurgent Arizona State program comes into Pauley Pavilion to face the defending national champions and number two UCLA.
The Bruins have been impressive for the first two weeks of the season, starting strong despite some injuries to key players. In wins over Nebraska and at the California Grand Invitational Collegiate Challenge, UCLA looked consistent across all four events, with a plethora of lineup options to choose from. Arizona State continues to ride the wave of new head coaches Jay and Jess Santos, and the Sun Devils are back to performing at a level to content for a Pac 12 Championship night session spot.
Arizona State will impress and keep it tight early, but UCLA’s superior beam and floor will get the job done at home.
(4) Utah vs. (21) Oregon State – Saturday, January 19: 5 ET – Pac 12 Network+
Traditional Pac 12 powerhouses Utah and Oregon State will collide again in Corvallis, where the Beavers pulled off the upset the last time the Red Rocks came into town. Buoyed by a strong and consistent group of upperclassmen and two talented freshman, the Utes look ready to make another run at a conference championship and an appearance in the Final Four.
Utah won easily in its first two meets of the season, and the Red Rocks will have a slight edge as Oregon State made their season debut last weekend on the road at Illinois. Oregon State has some really fun and interesting routines across their lineups, but Utah’s consistency and power will be too much for the Beavers even at home.
Michigan State vs. (9) Michigan – Friday, January 18: 7 ET – Michigan Live Stream
While not the most interesting matchup of the weekend on paper and in the rankings, this bitterly-contested, state rivalry matchup will bring out the best in both the Spartans and the Wolverines. Michigan is coming off of two solid meets on the road, where the Wolverines showed some of their depth, however improvement, particularly on balance beam, will be required if they hope to make a serious run at the Final Four.
For Michigan State, the Spartans have assembled a really talented and tight team together for this season, bringing a new energy and excitement following a tough 2018 season. While Michigan State fell in its first meet of the season, the Spartans were up there with UCLA and Cal in a third-place finish at the California Grand Invitational Collegiate Challenge last weekend in Anaheim. Expect the Wolverines to use their home crowd advantage to earn the win, but the Spartans will show their big potential for the rest of the season.
Prediction: MichiganTags: Alabama, Alabama Crimson Tide, Arizona State, Arizona State Sun Devils, Florida, Florida Gators, LSU, LSU Tigers, Michigan, Michigan State, Michigan State Spartans, Oregon State, Oregon State Beavers, UCLA, UCLA Bruins, Utah, Utah Utes