National championship rematch between Gators and Sooners set
No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 2 Florida
One of the most compelling meets in collegiate gymnastics this weekend will take place in Gainesville, Fla., when the top-two finishing teams from the 2013 NCAA championships will come head-to-head at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The defending national champion Gators will play host to the NCAA runner-up Sooners -- only this time, the rankings will be reversed with OU entering as the nation’s No. 1 team and Florida trailing close behind at No. 2. The early-season contest is only the fourth meet of the year for both teams, but should provide valuable experience for head coach K.J. Kindler’s relatively young Sooner squad.
Florida turned in the nation’s top team total of 2014 in its 198.05-196.70 win versus then No. 6 Georgia. It was a tight competition through the opening three rotations and the Gators trailed by 0.075 heading into the final rotation. Florida’s school-record floor exercise team total of 49.875 – the highest team total on any event since 2006 - surged the Gators to the win.
Oklahoma could have posted a nerve-wrought performance in its first road meet of the season at Arizona, but the Sooners were more than composed. OU earned a 197.575 against the Wildcats, the team’s second-highest score this season and the nation’s highest road score of 2014.
The rematch will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday.
No. 3 LSU vs. No. 7 Alabama
LSU (2-1, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) posted a 197.175 in a victory against Auburn last Saturday, marking the fourth consecutive score of 197 or higher at home for the Tigers.
Rheagan Courville, who was ranked No. 1 in the all-around after the first week of competition, moved back to the top spot with a 39.525 average after sitting at No. 2 in the rankings last week.
Alabama retained its No. 7 national ranking this week after beating Arkansas by a score of 197.125-196.100 last Friday night in front of a sold-out crowd of 15,075 in Coleman Coliseum.
This week's rankings also mean another top-10 showdown for the Crimson Tide, pitting it against LSU on the road in Baton Rouge at 8 p.m. Friday.
T4 Michigan vs. Michigan State
Michigan (6-0, 1-0 Big Ten) looks to defeat a conference rival for the second time in as many weeks as it welcomes Michigan State (0-3, 0-2 Big Ten) on at 7 p.m. on Friday to Crisler Center.
Michigan State is 0-3 on the season (0-2 in the Big Ten), averaging 193.142 on the season. The Spartans hosted Penn State last Saturday in East Lansing, Mich., but lost to the visiting Nittany Lions 194.825-192.750. They are led by junior Alina Cartwright, who is tied for 12th nationally in the all-around (39.300).
Friday's meet will be the 101st meeting between the two schools, with Michigan holding a 62-38 advantage in the series. The Wolverines have won 17 consecutive meetings dating back to 2007. Head coach Bev Plocki holds a record of 61-9 in all competitions against Michigan State.
T4 Utah vs. Arizona State
Utah (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) has a road meet at No. 19 Arizona State (5-1, 2-0 Pac-12) at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
Utah coach Greg Marsden, in his 39th season, is one victory away from becoming the sport's first 1,000-win coach. After last week's win against UCLA (his 300th against Pac-12 teams), he moved his career mark to 999-199-7. The only coach in Utah gymnastics history, Marsden has led the Utes into the national championships every year of his tenure, which began in the 1976 season. Marsden is 300-54-4 all-time against Pac-12 schools.
No. 6 Georgia vs. Kentucky
Georgia will return to Stegeman Coliseum for its third home meet and third SEC meet of the season when it takes on No. 20 Kentucky at 4 p.m. Saturday. After five meets in 15 days to start the year, Georgia will already hit the halfway point of the regular season Saturday afternoon.
The Gym Dogs are coming off a 198.050-196.700 loss at Florida last Friday. UGA led after each of the first three rotations, but the Gators rallied to win with a 49.875 on floor. Kentucky claimed an SEC road win at Missouri last week.
No. 8 Nebraska v. Minnesota
Nebraska returns home to Lincoln after two weeks on the road. The Huskers (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) will face No. 14 Minnesota (7-0, 1-0 Big Ten) at 7 p.m. on Saturday for a dual on their home floor.
The Huskers enter this weekend searching for their fifth overall win, as well as their second victory at home. NU holds a 24-10-1 all-time advantage against Minnesota, with the last regular-season meeting between the two teams coming last season at the 2013 Big Ten Championships. The Huskers came away victorious at that meet, posting a 197.80-196.775 win versus the Gophers.
No. 9 UCLA v. California
UCLA (1-2) gets back on the road for a second-consecutive week, making a short flight up to Berkeley, Calif., for a dual meet against 22nd-ranked California (3-4). The meet will take place on at 9 p.m. on Friday.
The Golden Bears enter this week’s competition with a 3-4 record and season average of 194.875. Cal’s top mark of the season came in a 196.275-196.875 loss to Utah on Jan. 17. Last weekend, the Golden Bears lost at Arizona State, 195.350-196.000, but posted their highest road score since 2007.
No. 10 Arkansas vs. Auburn
Arkansas is set to host No. 12 Auburn inside the friendly confines of Barnhill Arena at 8 p.m. on Friday.
Senior All-American Katherine Grable comes into the meet as the No. 4 overall gymnast in the country and will be poised to lead the team in the search for her fourth all-around title of the season. Grable owns an average of 39.492 in the all-around competition ahead of Auburn’s Caitlin Atkinson who has an average of 39.167 on the season.