By Ashlee Buhler for Inside Gymnastics

Who Will Make It? – Your 2021 NCAA Regional Guide  

It’s NCAA postseason time! The top 36 teams in the nation have been divvied up to compete at four different regional competitions across the country and will be vying for a spot at the NCAA Championships. It is going to be a long, yet exciting weekend of gymnastics and when all is said and done, we will know which eight teams will be moving on to the NCAA Gymnastics Championships. 

We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know heading into the 2021 NCAA Regional Championships. 

How it works: 

  • Play-In Round: The two lowest ranked teams at each regional will go head-to-head as they fight for the last available spot in the semifinals. The team that advances will complete in semifinal #2. 
  • Semifinals: There are two semifinals at each regional comprised of four teams. The top two teams from each semifinal will advanced to the final day of competition. 
  • Finals: The remaining four teams (the top two from each semifinal) will face off in the finals where the top two teams will qualify to the NCAA Championships.

Athens Regional 

Play-In Round: 

Who: No. 26 NC State vs. No. 35 Western Michigan  

When: Thursday, April 1 at 3:00 p.m. ET

What to look for: NC State has the upper hand with a higher team average (195.713 to Western Michigan’s 194.939) as well as a significantly higher season high. NC State has eclipsed 196 several times this season and nearly went 197 in their final meet of the regular season, so they have a lot to feel good about heading into regionals. On the other hand, Western Michigan started the season strong, going as high as 196.050, but has struggled to break 195 in their last three meets. Can Western Michigan have its best performance this season to overtake NC State?

Watch: https://georgiadogs.com/showcase/embed.aspx?Live=3975 

Semifinal #1: 

Who: No. 8 Minnesota, No. 9 Denver, No. 18 Georgia, No. 24 Oregon State  

When: Friday, April 2 at 1:00 p.m. ET 

What to look for: It will be a close battle between Minnesota and Denver who sit back-to-back in the national rankings and are separated by less than a tenth. Both teams are also coming off surprise upsets at their respective conference championships, snapping the long winning streaks of Michigan and Oklahoma. However, expect Georgia to be hungry and ready to fight. Contact tracing and COVID safety protocols left them out of the SEC Championships, but just prior to that they scored a season high 197.325. Returning to competition after an extra week of rest, coupled with competing on their home turf, could ignite a fire in the Gym Dogs and perhaps give them slight advantage to make it to the finals. 

Watch: https://www.espn.com/watch/player/_/id/b8130b9a-6f65-409f-aaf7-9be541c82ce1?om-navmethod=espn%3Aglobalsearch%3Aresults 

Semifinal #2: 

Who: No. 1 Florida, No. 16 Illinois, No. 25 Central Michigan, NC State or Western Michigan 

When: Friday, April 2 at 7:00 p.m. ET 

What to look for: Florida will be looking to bounce back after a disappointing finish at the SEC Championships but as the top ranked team in the nation, the Gators should have no problems advancing to the final day of competition. The real battle will be for the second spot in the finals. Illinois has come on strong this season, averaging a 196.265. But they have gone as high as 197.575, which is surely enough to get them into the finals if they could repeat that performance. Central Michigan will also be in the mix. The Chippewas have gone as high as 196.425 (they did it twice this season) but will need to keep it together on beam if they want to contend for the finals. 

Watch: https://www.espn.com/watch/player/_/id/df612eeb-9fbb-43f4-9596-082ffe463521?om-navmethod=espn%3Aglobalsearch%3Aresults 

Finals: 

Who: Top two teams from each semifinal 

When: Saturday, April 3 at 7:00 p.m. ET 

Watch: https://www.espn.com/watch/player/_/id/18193af6-2a6c-4ec2-bd7a-5dd8d1a246cd?om-navmethod=espn%3Aglobalsearch%3Aresults

Morgantown Regional 

Play-In Round: 

Who: No. 33 Penn State vs. No. 35 Western Virginia 

When: Thursday, April 1 at 3:00 p.m. ET

What to look for: West Virginia snuck into regionals at the last moment thanks to their 195.725 at the Big 12 Championships and would love nothing more but to advance to semifinals in front of a home crowd.  The pressure will be on though. Penn State holds a slightly higher team average and NQS this season, however, West Virginia has outscored Penn State’s season high (196.000) by a tenth. This one may simply come down to who can stick the most landings when it counts. 

Watch: https://www.espn.com/watch/player/_/id/8f9cdc1c-9f87-4734-844a-874c8c26042b?om-navmethod=espn%3Aglobalsearch%3Aresults 

Semifinal #1: 

Who: No. 5 Cal, No. 12 BYU, No. 27 Ohio State, No. 28 Towson  

When: Friday, April 2 at 1:00 p.m. ET 

What to look for: It has been a record-breaking season for Cal as they sit fifth in the national rankings (the highest national ranking in program history) and broke a program record—going 198 for the first time in program history. As long as they do what they have been doing all season, they should have no problems advancing to the finals and challenging for a spot at nationals. BYU has also had a phenomenal season and has a great chance of advancing to the finals if they perform like they have all season. The Cougars can easily hit in the high 196 range and have gone as high as 197.300 this season, which helps distance them from the other competitors. If Ohio State or Towson want to make it to the next round, they will need to hit 24 for 24 and likely need some help from Cal or BYU. 

Watch: https://www.espn.com/watch/player/_/id/ca84e09c-474a-4dff-b08c-b948b00d3d92?om-navmethod=espn%3Aglobalsearch%3Aresults 

Semifinal #2:

Who: No. 4 Michigan, No. 13 UCLA, No. 29 Kent State, Penn State or West Virginia 

When: Friday, April 2 at 7:00 p.m. ET 

What to look for: Just like Cal, Michigan has also had a record-breaking season, eclipsing 198 for the first time as a program and breaking program records in back-to-back weeks. The Wolverines have the makings to be national title contenders but will need to be better on floor where they have struggled a bit this season. Qualifying to the second day of competition should not be an issue for the Wolverines—the bigger focus will be making it to nationals out of the final day of competition. UCLA could make things interesting if they bring their A game but have only gone as high as 197.025 this season and will need a score much bigger than that if they want to top Michigan and Cal to make it to nationals. First and foremost, the first goal for the Bruins will be coming out of the semifinals as one of the top two teams. If UCLA has an off performance on beam in the semifinal, Kent State could capitalize. They average a 195.252 and have gone 196.375 this season, which could be enough if UCLA falters. 

Watch: https://www.espn.com/watch/player/_/id/2e602197-2577-477c-8d97-a63421cfdce8?om-navmethod=espn%3Aglobalsearch%3Aresults 

Finals: 

Who: Top two teams from each semifinal 

When: Saturday, April 3 at 7:00 p.m. ET 

Watch: https://www.espn.com/watch/player/_/id/696acd0f-05de-4b1e-a8a2-e9ba3b9a3108?om-navmethod=espn%3Aglobalsearch%3Aresults

Tuscaloosa Regional 

Play-In Round: 

Who: No. 31 Eastern Michigan vs. No. 32 Maryland 

When: Thursday, April 1 at 4:00 p.m. ET

What to look for: Both teams are similar in terms of capabilities, hence why they are back-to-back in the national rankings. Looking at the numbers, the Eagles only lead the Terrapins by less than a half tenth in NQS. The Terrapins hold a higher average (195.410) and team season high (196.275) by a couple of tenths. But the Eagles are coming off a high with a win at the MAC Championships despite a shaky performance on their best event, the balance beam. If they can keep it together and have their best performance of the season when it matters most, the Eagles could get the job done. But don’t expect Maryland to go down without a fight.  

Watch: https://www.espn.com/watch/player/_/id/8e959628-7e55-4406-a46c-1844adc5aefa?om-navmethod=espn%3Aglobalsearch%3Aresults 

Semifinal #1: 

Who: No. 7 Alabama, No. 10 Arkansas, No. 19 Iowa, No. 20 Iowa State 

When: Friday, April 2 at 2:00 p.m. ET 

What to look for: This semifinal has the ability to go several different ways. Of course, Alabama and Arkansas are the favorites to advance. Alabama is coming of a season high 197.875 and a thrilling win at the SEC Championships, whereas Arkansas had it’s lowest scoring meet of the season. However, Arkansas is typically much better than what they showed at SEC’s and can easily eclipse 197 if they do what they are capable of. If there are any mistakes, Iowa or Iowa State both have the ability to upset. Iowa State has steadily improved as the season has progressed and posted a 197.050 at the Big 12 Championships—a score that could be good enough to get them to the finals. Iowa has yet to break 197 this season, but consistently hits in the mid to high 196 range. Their cool confidence and consistency could carry them through if the opportunity presents itself. 

Watch: https://www.espn.com/watch/player/_/id/edadf6d0-db51-431a-9c78-c5a5c46f40fa?om-navmethod=espn%3Aglobalsearch%3Aresults 

Semifinal #2: 

Who: No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 15 Auburn, No. 23 Missouri, Eastern Michigan or Maryland 

When: Friday, April 2 at 8:00 p.m. ET 

What to look for: Oklahoma will be looking to rebound after a disappointing performance at the Big 12 Championships. The good news for the Sooners, is that even on an off day, they are capable of posting a 197 score. This should easily help them land a spot in the regional finals—where there will be a little bit more pressure on them to post a big score. Auburn also sits in a comfortable position to qualify to the finals but could be the victim of an upset if they make one too many mistakes. They could pick up some extra tenths and ensure they break 49 on vault and bars by sticking more landings, which will ultimately help solidify their spot in the finals. 

Watch: https://www.espn.com/watch/player/_/id/e94cb672-d90d-43ad-94b0-f4fa86e98d6e?om-navmethod=espn%3Aglobalsearch%3Aresults 

Finals: 

Who: Top two teams from each semifinal 

When: Saturday, April 3 at 8:00 p.m. ET 

Watch: https://www.espn.com/watch/player/_/id/a21ab902-1f41-4224-9cb0-251ac2e38170?om-navmethod=espn%3Aglobalsearch%3Aresults 

Salt Lake City Regional 

Play-In Round: 

Who: No. 30 Temple vs. No. 34 Arizona 

When: Thursday, April 1 at 5:00 p.m. ET

What to look for: Temple is on a roll! They have improved their season best in each of the last four meets, topping it off with a 196.500 and a win at the EAGL Championships. The Owls will be competing with a full team at regionals for the first time since 1992 and have a legitimate shot at advancing to the semifinal if they can keep the momentum going. However, Arizona will be right on their heels. The Wildcats can post a 196 score themselves but will need a clean performance from start to finish to guarantee their spot in the finals.  

Watch: https://www.espn.com/watch/player/_/id/20303606-9993-4bc0-b0e1-11f4cd9af17f?om-navmethod=espn%3Aglobalsearch%3Aresults 

Semifinal #1: 

Who: No. 6 Utah, No. 11 Arizona State, No. 17 Boise State, No. 21 Southern Utah 

When: Friday, April 2 at 3:00 p.m. ET 

What to look for: Utah comes into regionals as the Pac 12 Champions after putting up a season high 197.725. With two more hit performances Utah should be NCAA Championship bound, but first comes qualifying to regional finals, which they are looking prime for. Arizona State is in a good position to advance to the finals as well, after coming off their highest finish in Pac 12 Championship history since 2006. The Sun Devils can post a score in the 197 range and have done so on four occasions this season. Their season high is a 197.450 which would certainly make them competitive in the finals. But don’t sleep on Boise State! They have an NQS of 196.788 and could capitalize with a clean performance. Both Boise State and the Sun Devils rank 12th nationally on bars and in the top 20 on vault and floor. It could all come down to beam, where Arizona State has been stronger this season.  

Watch: https://www.espn.com/watch/player/_/id/bf40136d-6be6-4635-a2cb-ddf51df06b34?om-navmethod=espn%3Aglobalsearch%3Aresults 

Semifinal #2: 

Who: No. 3 LSU, No. 14 Kentucky, No. 22 Utah State, Temple or Arizona   

When: Friday, April 2 at 9:00 p.m. ET 

What to look for: LSU and Kentucky are easily the favorites in this semifinal and should advance to the finals baring anything out of the norm. LSU averages a 197.378 this season but is capable of going 198 if they are on the top of their game. On the flip side, Kentucky averages a 196.547 but can go 197 on a good day. Those scores should be enough to get them into the final and fighting for a spot at the NCAA Championships. 

Watch: https://www.espn.com/watch/player/_/id/46f8a3c1-ae06-4780-b861-f9f8b0c7573b?om-navmethod=espn%3Aglobalsearch%3Aresults 

Finals: 

Who: Top two teams from each semifinal 

When: Saturday, April 3 at 9:00 p.m. ET 

Watch: https://www.espn.com/watch/player/_/id/66bb6e78-e5e3-40fe-b528-346441eae552?om-navmethod=espn%3Aglobalsearch%3Aresults 

Photo credits: Lloyd Smith for Inside Gymnastics; University of Michigan, Cal, University of Iowa and the University of Minnesota

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