Another regular season has come and gone, which means it’s time to run our postseason simulator again to see who the title favorites are and where to look for the most likely upsets along the way.
We collected all of the scores from the 2023 season and removed those from gymnasts who are known to have season-ending injuries. We wrote a script that randomly selects scores from the remaining pool to simulate a meet, with gymnasts who competed more often during the season being more likely to make the lineup in the simulated meet. We also accounted for the fact that there are more judges in the postseason by adding or subtracting 0.0125 from some of the scores, determined randomly in each simulation. Finally, we expanded the script to simulate the entire bracket, starting with the play-in rounds and finishing with the national final. We ran this script 10,000 times.
As teams that perform better as the season wears on generally have a better showing at regionals and nationals, we prioritized the weighted simulation method we introduced last year. In the results below, runs are weighted by month, meaning late-season scores count more than early-season scores to capture the impact of teams gaining momentum over the course of the season.
Additionally, to allow the information we have on injuries to factor into our simulation, we exclude gymnasts known to have suffered season-ending injuries. Gymnasts with injuries who have yet to return to competition, but who are not definitively out for the rest of the year, are included, but given significantly lower chances of making lineups.
The following table shows how often each team qualified to each round of the postseason across the 10,000 model runs in this simulation.
|Region||Rank||Team||2nd Round||3rd Round||Nationals||Finalist||Top 3||Top 2||Champion|
|Los Angeles||36||Boise State||40.06%||0.58%||--||--||--||--||--|
|Los Angeles||21||Southern Utah||100.00%||10.13%||0.06%||--||--||--||--|
As was the case at the Norman regional last year, the results suggest that Arkansas has a chance of pulling a second round upset, this time to top Ohio State. In fact, the results suggest the odds are in Arkansas’ favor, with the Razorbacks advancing in just over half of the simulations. An upset seems unlikely in the other regional semifinal, where Alabama and Kentucky are expected to sail through, but the Crimson Tide will have to be on its A-game to fend off the Wildcats in the third round. While Alabama came out on top at the conference championship, Kentucky is enjoying a record-breaking season—the Wildcats were the third seed in the night session (ahead of Alabama) at the SEC championship, and the program’s top three scores have all come this year. Whichever team performs better on the day will be expected to join title-favorite Oklahoma at nationals.
In Pittsburgh, advancement out of the second and third rounds seems rather straightforward, with all seeded teams rating at least an 83% chance of qualifying to the regional final, and top two seeds Florida and California qualifying to nationals in 95% and 87% of simulations, respectively. Instead, the most exciting matchup in Pittsburgh could occur in the first round, where the simulation results give No. 32 Penn State a strong chance to pull the upset over No. 31 Towson. With the higher overall (by over two tenths) and road (by nearly a fall) season highs, the Nittany Lions have a viable road to success, but with a smaller spread between overall and road NQS scores, Towson’s consistency offers the Tigers as much of a “defense” as is possible in gymnastics. Being the first round matchup with the closest difference in rankings, and the only one for which the simulator predicts an upset, this could be the first round matchup to watch.
The Denver regional features the only play-in meet involving a top 28 team this year, with Arizona drawing the short end of the stick. At 71%, the Wildcats have the best shot of any play-in team to make the regional semifinal but will struggle to advance beyond that due to stiff competition from Michigan and Denver. Minnesota, while the third-ranked team in that semifinal, is capable of an upset—the Gophers top the Pioneers in 15% of our simulations—but will need a season high and some help from the home team. In the other semifinal, our results suggest Georgia has an 11% chance of qualifying to the regional final, an outcome that, if realized, would mark a significant improvement from last season, when the Gymdogs finished 30th. Perhaps the biggest question about this regional, however, is how the final will play out. Denver is the only regional in which the top seed advanced in less than 90% of our simulations, and the race for the other qualifying spot could be closer than our results suggest, as the three road scores factoring into Oregon State’s NQS are rather evenly matched with the three home scores factoring into Denver’s NQS. Moreover, while the Pioneers have the higher peak score this season, the Beavers pulled ahead far more frequently in our simulations.
At the Los Angeles regional, Utah and Auburn are the clear favorites to qualify into the regional final from the afternoon semifinal, but the picture is murkier in the evening semifinal. Host UCLA is expected to advance easily, but the second qualifier is somewhat of an open question. As the seeded team, Missouri is expected to join the Bruins in the third round, but Stanford pulled the upset in over a quarter of our simulation runs, and not without reason. Of the three road scores factoring into the Tigers’ NQS, only one topped the Cardinal’s highest and second highest NQS road scores (albeit by a large margin); to secure a regional final appearance, the Tigers will look to repeat their season-high road performance. In the regional final, the showdown between rivals Utah and UCLA, both of whom are expected to advance, could provide an interesting preview of the NCAA semifinal. At the same time, while Auburn has failed to replicate last year’s success thus far, the results suggest it has a 7% chance of pulling an upset, which could be worth keeping an eye on, particularly if Sunisa Lee returns to competition—as Lee has been out lately, her scores were given less weight in the simulation.
Looking beyond regionals, Oklahoma and Florida are the heavy favorites to advance to the team final at nationals, doing so in 94% and 73% of simulations, respectively. The remaining two spots are much harder to call at the moment. The battle to join Oklahoma will likely come down to Utah and UCLA, with Utah having the advantage (57% to 41%), while Michigan and California are most likely to be in the hunt to qualify alongside Florida, with Michigan having the advantage (57% to 44%). Having already defeated the Bruins twice this season, including as part of a historic third-straight Pac-12 championship win, the odds look better for the Utes’ national final dreams, but they will need to be in top form. In the other semifinal, Michigan will be looking for yet another road 198 to fend off the Golden Bears, who put up two 198s in the span of 48 hours to finish off the regular season (albeit both at home).
Finally, the results point to a strong chance of Oklahoma repeating as the national champion. The Sooners won in 65% of simulations, well over half the time and more than four times as often as the next closest challenger. Should the Sooners falter, however, Florida (16%) could be ready to capitalize on their mistakes, if the season-high 198.425 that the Gators posted to win the SEC title is any indication. As the only team to have defeated Oklahoma this season, 2021 champions Michigan (7%) could also have an outside chance at the title, provided the Wolverines avoid repeating their unfortunate fate from last year’s national semifinal.
Want to try this simulation yourself?
You're in luck! Adjust the settings and click the simulate button below, and tables will appear showing the results of both semifinals and Four on the Floor! We've also added in individual event winners this year using the scores from the eight teams that make nationals in each run. Click the button again to run a new simulation. Counts of wins will show up under the "Win Count" header. Be sure to share your results on social media!
READ THIS NEXT: 2023 Regionals Draw, Individual Qualifiers Announced
Simulation script and data by Jenna King; article by Jenna King and Dara Tan; on-page simulation by Izzi Baskin
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I always look forward to this post. Thank you!