NCAA women's gymnastics regionals preview
The GIST: It’s tourney time! The gals’ NCAA regionals (the first step on the road to the national championship) begin today. These four three-day mini-tourneys feature the nation’s top 36 squads — plus 76 standout athletes from non-qualifying teams who were selected to compete as individuals — all hoping to flip to the April 13–15 ’ship. Here’s how it all breaks down.
How it works: Each regional meet (LA, Denver, Pittsburgh and Norman, OK) has nine squads and three rounds. Think of each regional’s first round as a play-in meet between the two lowest-ranked teams, where the winners advance to the eight-team second round.
- The second and third rounds whittle those eight teams down to two. Those winners from each of the four regions (for a total of eight squads) then advance to the April 13th national semifinal meet and keep dancing toward the natty.
- As for the individuals, four all-arounders and four specialists in each event (bars, beam, floor and vault) will survive regionals for a shot at some hardware in Fort Worth, TX. In short, it's a truly mind-bending amount of gymnastics.
The favorites: Keeping the seeding simple, the nation’s 16 highest-ranked squads (based on national qualifying score) became the bracket’s top 16 seeds — the remaining 20 are unseeded. The top four are split among the four regionals, and some have a much clearer path to the natty than others…
- No. 1 seed Oklahoma’s fiercest regional foe is No. 8 Alabama, who’s not considered a real threat to the Sooners. But No. 4 UCLA has a much tougher path through conference rival No. 5 Utah and Olympic gold medalist Sunisa Lee’s No. 12 Auburn.
- There will be no shortage of great matchups, but No. 2 Florida’s Trinity Thomas could steal the show: The reigning all-around national champ needs only two more perfect 10s to break the NCAA record. Hold your breath for history.