Claire Robbins UW-La Crosse

The Mount: Predictions, Picks, and Other Things to Know Ahead of Week 8

The switch to NQS rankings is Monday! That means it’s starting to be crunch time for many schools looking to make regionals or secure a seeded or favorable spot in the postseason. And, with just a few away meets left for some squads, this is when things get real.

Must-Watch Meets

Big Fives

Session One with Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio State, and Rutgers

Friday, Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. ET | BTN

Prediction: 71.59% Michigan State, 14.95% Minnesota, 12.54% Ohio State, 0.91% Nebraska, 0.01% Rutgers

Though nothing is fully locked in yet, the undefeated Spartans have all but secured a night session spot at Big Tens in March. Minnesota and Ohio State are also both likely contenders for two of the three remaining spots and will be battling each other here. Both can push Michigan State on their best days. The Buckeyes have been on a roll, especially since getting Jojo Warga back in the beam lineup two weeks ago. Despite their stronger season high, the Gophers have spent fewer weeks over 197 and will need a best hit to make a move.

Nebraska has hit some strong numbers, besting conference foes Illinois, Iowa, and Penn State. If any team in the top group falters, the Huskers are lurking. Despite a few complete, solid performances on the year, Rutgers is hanging behind the pack. Bars in particular has been a weakness; if the Scarlet Knights hit 49-plus there, they will be in a position to compete with Nebraska.  

Additional notes about the predictions: Michigan State has the best chances of winning this session of Big Fives, but both Minnesota and Ohio State could pull off an upset. Both teams will be looking to post the highest score on either bars or beam to raise its win probability to 30 to 40%. Winning both events will give either team a 70-plus percent of winning the meet. Mya Hooten and Payton Harris will be key if either of their teams want to win this meet. Without one of them at full strength, their team’s win chances drop to only 6%.

Session Two with Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, and Penn State

Saturday, Feb. 24 at 4:30 p.m. ET | BTN

Prediction: 87.57% Michigan, 5.50% Illinois, 4.02% Penn State, 2.22% Maryland, 0.69% Iowa

Michigan will be looking for a mid-197 here, a number no other team in this group has come close to hitting. Any other team walking away with four wins would require mistakes from the Wolverines. After a slow start to the year at Super 16, they just haven’t had a big miss, though they are relying on some depth with the recent injury to Naomi Morrison. That was no matter last week when Michigan topped Rutgers at Elevate for a 197.650, but the replacement routines did not quite hit standard Morrison numbers; the pressure is on for all lineups to hit top to bottom. It’s certainly possible but less of a sure thing than with Morrison at full health.

The rest of the pack is in a fascinating bunch. All have had at least one big breakout meet, with Penn State owning the only 197 in the session outside of Michigan. Illinois and Maryland have mid-196s on the books, and Iowa sorted itself out without Adline Kenlin to break back into the 196s over the past two outings. All four teams will be battling to finish with the best score possible. Sitting at 1-4 in the conference, it would take winning the session outright for any of Illinois, Penn State, or Iowa to advance to the conference meet night session, with Maryland in a slightly better position at 2-3.

Additional notes about the predictions: Michigan should easily pull off the win in this session of the Big Fives. However, should they falter, it becomes anyone’s meet. Each of the challenging teams here has a different key event that increases their win chances the most if they achieve the highest score: Iowa on vault, Maryland on bars, Illinois on beam, and Penn State on floor. Every rotation will be important here, especially if the Wolverine’s count a fall on any event, which cuts their win percentage in half to 42%. Keep an eye on Sierra Brooks’s performance as well, because without her typical contributions, Michigan’s win percentage drops to 68%.

Stanford at Utah

Friday, Feb. 23 at 8 p.m. ET | Pac-12 Networks

Prediction: 88.53% Utah, 11.47% Stanford

Despite a win, Utah showed some vulnerabilities on vault and bars in its meet against UCLA on Monday. The Utes are currently ranked fifth behind Kentucky in the early NQS rankings, but are so close to bumping Kentucky off with a strong performance this Friday. The big question for this team will be how Amelie Morgan’s absence will impact the team’s performance.

The Cardinals should be eager to have a strong performance at this meet to match the consistent pattern of 196+ scores they’ve been earning this season and to drop the 193.625 against Michigan for a dramatic rise in NQS rankings. While the chances are slim for Stanford to beat Utah at home, a potential Anna Roberts comeback could be immensely helpful.

Additional notes about the predictions: Prior to this week, Utah was a 93% favorite to win this matchup. However, its weaker performance on Monday combined with Amelie Morgan’s absence to return to the UK lowers the chances of winning. The Utes are still very strong favorites here, though. Stanford’s best chance of winning this meet comes if it can post the higher score on both beam and floor. Doing so increases its win chances to 59%. Recent reports have said that we may expect Anna Roberts back in the lineups this week. Her return increases the Cardinal’s win chances to 13%.

West Virginia at Oklahoma

Friday, Feb. 23 at 8 p.m. ET | ESPN+

Prediction: 99.99% Oklahoma 0.01% West Virginia

An Oklahoma team that has hit 198 three weeks in a row comes back home to face a West Virginia team that hasn’t quite found its rhythm this season. Oklahoma can clinch its final Big 12 regular season championship with a win here, and newly named Gymnast of the Week Faith Torrez will likely lead the Sooners after an outstanding performance at Metroplex last weekend. It’s also possible that KJ Kindler chooses to exercise her depth and give some big names a rest while giving others competitive opportunities. As for West Virginia, it’s coming off a season-high of 195.2500. The Mountaineers have shown inconsistencies on bars and beam this season and have yet to score above a 49.000 on bars. They’ll look to build upon the high they had last week. Freshman Amber Lowe has been able to make an immediate impact on three events and scored two career-highs on bars and floor last weekend. Along with Lowe, Abbie Pierson is a staple all-arounder for the Mountaineers who is looking to contribute to this Big 12 matchup.

Additional notes about the predictions: A win on the road at Oklahoma is a lofty goal for West Virginia, but it will be looking to post another solid road score as we transition to NQS. A 195-plus is definitely possible for the Mountaineers, with that outcome occurring in 53% of our simulations. A season high 195.275 or more also has a 31% chance of occuring this weekend.

California at UCLA

Sunday, Feb. 25 at 5 p.m. ET | Pac-12 Networks

Prediction: 93.43% California, 6.57% UCLA

After nearly besting the fourth-ranked Utes last weekend, the Bruins will get another shot at a top-five upset as the third-ranked Golden Bears head to Pauley Pavilion for another crucial Pac-12 dual. California is currently undefeated in the regular season dual meet championship race at 5-0 while UCLA sits at 3-1.

Led by top-20 all-arounders Mya Lauzon and eMjae Frazier, the Golden Bears have succeeded in using a balanced and consistent attack all season. California ranks in the top 10 on every event and has scored just as well on the road as it has at home. But, coming off two weeks of lower scores, UCLA may have a chance if it can capitalize on the energy of its home crowd. Selena Harris is a force to be reckoned with in the all-around for the Bruins, especially coming off a perfect 10 on vault Monday afternoon, but they’ll need others to step up their game in the absence of Emma Malabuyo if they want to pull off the upset.

Additional notes about the predictions: UCLA’s sub-197 performance last week along with Emma Malabuyo’s continued absence brings the Bruins’ win chances against California down from 14% to just 6.5%. The Bruins will strongly rely on Selena Harris in this matchup, as without her typical contributions there is only a 1% chance of UCLA winning. To have the best chance of an upset, UCLA will want to put up higher scores than California on both bars and beam, which raises its win chances to 72%.

Upset Alert

LSU at Florida

Friday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. ET | ESPN2

Prediction: 66.83% LSU, 33.17% Florida

With NQS kicking in soon, there are actual stakes in play beyond conference pride. LSU needs a strong road score to maintain its place at the top of the SEC, as both Florida and Kentucky are hot on its heels (and the rest of the conference isn’t too far behind). 

On paper, LSU has the advantage. The Tigers have broken 198 three times this season, including a 198.475 from week five that currently stands as the top score in the country. The problem is that they have yet to replicate those scores on the road. Meanwhile, the Gators’ biggest season high—a 197.925—came last weekend at Texas Woman’s. They’re also the only SEC team whose scores have increased each week. That steady ramp-up plus a return to the O’Dome could be enough to tip the scales in Florida’s favor. 

Additional notes about the predictions: While LSU has a two in three chance of winning this meet, Florida can definitely still pull off the win, with 17% of our simulations coming down to less than a tenth. If the Gators post the higher score on any one event, this becomes a 50/50 matchup, and doing so on two events gives them a 70% chance. While the Gators can control their own destiny here, a sub-49 rotation on any event for LSU will also give Florida an 80 to 85% chance of winning.

Kentucky at Arkansas

Friday, Feb. 23 at 8:30 p.m. ET | SECN

Prediction: 87.01% Kentucky, 12.99% Arkansas

The Wildcats have been reliably excellent this season, both at home and on the road, while the Razorbacks have been far more hit or miss. The latter is coming off a strong 197.375 performance at the Texas Woman’s quad, which should go a long way to erasing the pair of low 196s from earlier this month. They’ll also have the home crowd in their corner, a decided advantage for a team whose highest scoring event is floor. Even then, Arkansas will have to be at its absolute best on all four events if it hopes to topple Kentucky, as the Wildcats haven’t dropped below 197.350 since week one (and that was with counting a fall on beam). 

Additional notes about the predictions: Kentucky is a strong favorite to win this meet, but if Arkansas can score higher on both bars and beam, it has a 64% chance of winning. If Kentucky goes sub-49 on beam as it did two weeks ago, the Razorbacks’ win chances increase to 52%. Unsurprisingly, fifth-year Raena Worley will be key for Kentucky’s win, but even without her at full strength, the Wildcats have a 70% chance of winning.

Boise State, Iowa State, and Texas Woman’s at Utah State

Friday, Feb. 23 at 9 p.m. ET | Free Live Stream

Prediction: 63.11% Boise State, 33.21% Iowa State, 3.38% Utah State, 0.30% Texas Woman’s

This is one quad where the winner could be determined by who can hit its routines the cleanest. Iowa State already has a loss to Boise State this season, and it will be looking for redemption. Boise State and Utah State are both undefeated in Mountain West play, so both teams will want to keep that record for both the regular season title and as we approach the conference championship. Despite being the lowest ranked team, Texas Woman’s has had a relatively consistent season and will want a strong meet to take advantage of NQS beginning next week.

Additional notes about the predictions: Boise State is the favorite to pull off an upset on higher-ranked Iowa State this weekend. However, if Iowa State scores higher on bars, then we see the Cyclones’ become 64% favorites. Utah State’s best chances of winning come if it can post the highest score on both vault and floor, bringing its win chances up to 53%. Emily Lopez and Courtney Blackson are both key for Boise State to pull off the win. Without either of them, the Broncos’ win chances drop to 47%. For Iowa State, freshman Noelle Adams will be the one to watch. Without her at full strength, Iowa State’s win chances drop to 22%.

Wondering how we came up with the predictions for each meet? Read more about our methodology.

There’s Other Stuff Happening Too

We’d be remiss to let a preview for week eight go by without bringing up these additional points.

  • North Carolina will look to bring its momentum from last week’s mid-196 performance to this meet and will need to put up a similar number on the road to contest with in-conference rival Clemson. 
  • If you’re looking for an under-the-radar dual meet with standout vault and floor depth, Ball State at George Washington on Friday night is for you. These two teams have very similar strengths and lineup strategies: multiple veteran all-arounders and a breakout freshman (Ball State’s Ashley Szymanski on bars and George Washington’s Maya Peters on beam). 
  • Penn will host the Ivy Classic on Saturday, hosting Brown, Cornell, and Yale. All four teams have a strong presence in this year’s GEC standings and hold the top four rankings by team high score in the conference. 
  • Oregon State and Arizona go head to head on Sunday, in a battle that could decide which of the two teams will compete in the second session at the Pac-12 championship. They currently sit fourth and fifth in the conference and have team averages less than a tenth apart.

Fantasy Corner

If you’re playing fantasy gymnastics this year, you want to do the absolute best you can do. Right? We have you covered with tips and tricks all season long in Fantasy Central. Managing editor Emily Minehart and data editor Dara Tan, will be bringing you the latest updates on injuries, scoring statistics, sneaky waiver wire targets, and more.

CGN Pick’em

Illustrated headshot of Brandis Heffner

Brandis (Last Week: 3-3; Overall: 23-19)

  • Big Fives S1: Michigan State
  • Big Fives S2: Michigan
  • California at UCLA: California
  • LSU at Florida: Florida
  • Kentucky at Arkansas: Kentucky
  • BSU, ISU, & TWU at USU: Boise State

Illustrated headshot of Claire Billman

Claire (Last Week: 2-4; Overall: 23-15)

  • Big Fives S1: Michigan State
  • Big Fives S2: Michigan
  • California at UCLA: California
  • LSU at Florida: LSU
  • Kentucky at Arkansas: Kentucky 
  • BSU, ISU, & TWU at USU: Boise State

Illustrated headshot of Elizabeth Grimsley

Elizabeth (Last Week: 2-4; Overall: 25-13)

  • Big Fives S1: Michigan State
  • Big Fives S2: Michigan
  • California at UCLA: California
  • LSU at Florida: Florida
  • Kentucky at Arkansas: Kentucky
  • BSU, ISU, & TWU at USU: Iowa State

Illustrated headshot of Emily Minehart

Emily M (Last Week: 3-3; Overall: 26-12)

  • Big Fives S1: Michigan State
  • Big Fives S2: Michigan
  • California at UCLA: California
  • LSU at Florida: Florida
  • Kentucky at Arkansas: Kentucky
  • BSU, ISU, & TWU at USU: Boise State

Rebecca Scally Illustrated Headshot

Rebecca (Last Week: 4-2; Overall: 23-15)

  • Big Fives S1: Michigan State
  • Big Fives S2: Michigan
  • California at UCLA: California
  • LSU at Florida: Florida
  • Kentucky at Arkansas: Kentucky
  • BSU, ISU, & TWU at USU: Boise State

Daniel Rothwell headshot

Week 8 Guest: Daniel

  • Big Fives S1: Michigan State
  • Big Fives S2: Michigan
  • California at UCLA: UCLA
  • LSU at Florida: LSU
  • Kentucky at Arkansas: Kentucky
  • BSU, ISU, & TWU at USU: Iowa State

Want to join in on the predictions? Tag us on social media with your picks then tune into the meets to see how well you do!

How to Watch

Looking for more info on how to watch your favorite gymnasts and teams in action? Head to our master schedule for all the scoring, video, and live blog links, or head to our annual “How to Watch” article to see what platforms you have access to with various streaming services.

Fri Feb 23
6:00 pm

LIU and Temple at Towson

Fri Feb 23
6:00 pm

Big Fives Session One

with Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio State, Rutgers
Fri Feb 23
7:00 pm

Winona State at Gustavus Adolphus

Fri Feb 23
7:00 pm

Ball State at George Washington

Fri Feb 23
7:00 pm

LSU at Florida

Fri Feb 23
7:00 pm

Missouri at Auburn

Fri Feb 23
7:00 pm

UW-Whitewater at UW-Oshkosh

Fri Feb 23
7:30 pm

North Carolina at Clemson

Fri Feb 23
8:00 pm

Washington at Arizona State

Fri Feb 23
8:00 pm

West Virginia at Oklahoma

Fri Feb 23
8:00 pm

Alaska and Western Michigan at Illinois State

Fri Feb 23
8:00 pm

Georgia at Alabama

Fri Feb 23
8:00 pm

Stanford at Utah

Fri Feb 23
8:30 pm

Kentucky at Arkansas

Fri Feb 23
9:00 pm

Boise State, Iowa State, and Texas Woman’s at Utah State

Fri Feb 23
9:00 pm

Denver at BYU

Fri Feb 23
10:00 pm

Air Force at Sacramento State

Sat Feb 24
2:00 pm

West Chester at William & Mary

Sat Feb 24
2:00 pm

Kent State at Central Michigan

Sat Feb 24
4:30 pm

Big Fives Session Two

with Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan at Penn State
Sat Feb 24
6:00 pm

Brown, Cornell, and Yale at Penn

Sun Feb 25
12:00 pm

Nastia Liukin Cup

Sun Feb 25
1:00 pm

Cortland at Ithaca

Sun Feb 25
2:00 pm

Bowling Green at LIU

Sun Feb 25
2:00 pm

Springfield and Ursinus at Brockport

Sun Feb 25
2:00 pm

Fisk, Rhode Island College, and Southern Connecticut at New Hampshire

Sun Feb 25
3:00 pm

Alaska, Illinois State, and UW-Eau Claire at Northern Illinois

Sun Feb 25
3:00 pm

Hamline at Simpson

Sun Feb 25
3:00 pm

UW-La Crosse at UW-Stout

Sun Feb 25
4:00 pm

N.C. State at Pittsburgh

Sun Feb 25
5:00 pm

Oregon State at Arizona

Sun Feb 25
5:00 pm

California at UCLA

Sun Feb 25
5:00 pm

San Jose State at UC Davis

Mon Feb 26
7:00 pm

Bridgeport at Centenary

Mon Feb 26
9:00 pm

Iowa State at Southern Utah

No event found!

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Article by the editors of College Gym News

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