NCAA Preview: Week 10

Post season is right around the corner! As we get into the final week of the regular season, many teams are looking to put the finishing touches on their routines (and stick all those landings) in their final opportunity to compete before conference championships. 

Here are a few meets for this weekend you won’t want to miss!

No. 4 Michigan at Maryland – Friday, March 12

The Michigan Wolverines are coming off a program record performance and their first 198 in program history. As they prepare for postseason, this meet will be about proving that performance last weekend was not a fluke. Junior Natalie Wojcik has proven to be a key All-Around contributor for the Wolverines, but the team’s other All-Around competitors Gabby Wilson and Sierra Brooks are a critical component to Michigan’s ability to post a big number. Junior Abby Heiskell has also been a quiet, but reliable part of Michigan’s success, posting career bests on vault (9.95), bars (9.925) and nearly hitting her career high on beam last weekend with a 9.925. Maryland will need a stellar performance if they want to take down the Wolverines but will hope to use this meet to improve their national ranking by dropping the 195.350 they are currently counting. Maryland currently ranks 28th nationally and will want to maintain that if they want to avoid the NCAA regional play-in rounds. Look for senior Audrey Barber to bring in the biggest numbers for the Terrapins. 

Watch: BTN+ at 5:00 p.m. ET 

https://www.btnplus.com/game/michigan-at-maryland-on-03122021?tid=17 

No. 20 Utah State at No. 5 Utah  –  Friday, March 12

Both teams have had strong performances this season and want to keep the momentum going. Utah wants to go big on senior night to cement their spot in the national rankings. Sophomore Mailie O’Keefe has been a key part of Utah’s success this season and is a big scorer; coming off back-to-back 9.975s on beam. (She also already has a 10 this season as well.) Jayden Rucker has been a rock for the Utes in her first competitive season and has hardly missed a mark on vault and floor. Except for one mishap on vault, she has not gone below 9.825 and on floor, she has not gone below 9.85. Utah State is coming off the third highest score in program history (196.775) and with a similar performance, they could capitalize if Utah counts any mistakes. The Aggies are lead by Senior Leighton Varnadore who is coming off a season best All-Around performance (39.325).

Watch: Utah live stream at 9:00 p.m. ET 

https://pac-12.com/live/university-utah 

San Jose State at No. 14 UCLA – Saturday, March 13

UCLA will be searching for a big score this weekend and will need one to ensure they show up to regionals as the second seed, rather than the third or fourth. The Bruins could use a score that is 197+ and will need a complete team performance to do so. Senior Nia Dennis has struggled with consistency on beam and floor this season and will hopefully hit big on her senior day. For San Jose State, this will be only their fourth meet of the season. However, they have improved a little bit each week, so anything over the 194.375 they posted last week will be a success. A highlight for this meet will be seeing Bruin transfer Mercedes Sanchez compete in Pauley Pavilion one last time. Sanchez never competed for UCLA, but was expected to make her debut on her senior night last year when the meet was cancelled and the season ended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. No matter what happens—this moment is sure to be a beautiful one. 

Watch: UCLA live stream at 5:00 p.m. ET

https://pac-12.com/live/ucla

No. 1 Oklahoma at No. 23 Iowa State  –  Sunday, March 14 

After a slower start to the season, Oklahoma has reclaimed the No. 1 spot in the national rankings. However, they share the spot with Florida and will need a score close to 198 to take sole possession. They will look to senior Anastasia Webb who ranks third in the nation and is coming off a double meet weekend that featured two perfect 10s. The Sooners will also look to Evy Schoepher who is also coming off a perfect 10 on vault and has been steady on beam and floor this season as well. Meanwhile, Iowa State is picking up steam and was able to jump nine spots in the rankings thanks to a three-meet weekend which included back-to-back season high scores. Addy DeJesus has been a great catch for the Cyclones after transferring from Nebraska. With a perfect 10 on vault in her back pocket already, DeJesus is coming off a career high All-Around performance that was just .25 of the program record. 

Watch: ESPN+ 1 p.m. ET

https://www.espn.com/watch/player?id=405a5568-f23a-4875-9454-70ad8eefb3fb

Photo credits Lloyd Smith for Inside Gymnastics; University of Utah and University of Michigan.

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