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No. 4 Utah Gymnastics Should Be Ranked Higher

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Gymnastics does rankings different than other sports, but we look at what the top 10 might look at if the rankings were done using football/basketball style rankings

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

In gymnastics, squads are ranked based on their averaged score from their meets rather than by record and strength of schedule. Gymnastics is different from sports like football and basketball in that a team's performance is not directly correlated to an opponent. For example, a team in football is more likely to struggle to run the ball against a team with a good run defense versus a team with a bad run defense. Facing better teams in gymnastics gives a team less margin for error, which increases the pressure on a gymnast, but there is nothing the opponent can do directly to negatively impact the opposing team (like double teaming an opposing team's best basketball player for example). In light of this, we take a look at what the gymnastics ranking might look like if they were done the same as football or basketball. We will look at the other nine teams ranked in the top 10, focusing on record and strength of schedule.

1. Oklahoma - 197.640 (11-0)

Oklahoma has the highest average score of any gymnastics squad and is therefore ranked No. 1. Oklahoma is perfect at 11-0 on the season. Oklahoma has wins over No. 17 Arkansas (twice, once at home and once in the Metroplex Challenge) at No. 14 Minnesota, at No. 18 Denver, No. 2 LSU (in the Metroplex Challenge), No. 25 Kentucky (in the Perfect 10 Challenge), and at No. 6 Michigan. They have remaining match ups at No. 16 Illinois, against No. 3 Florida, and at No. 5 Alabama. I believe that regardless of the ranking system used, Oklahoma would be No. 1 given that they have wins over two top 10 teams (including the No. 2 team in the nation) and seven wins over top 25 teams. They have a tough schedule left with two top 5 teams, so if they finish undefeated, they will reinforce they are the best squad in the nation.

2. LSU - 197.335 (9-1)

While LSU has a loss on the season (9-1), it was to No. 1 Oklahoma in the four team meet: the Metroplex Challenge (in Fort Worth, Texas). LSU has several marquee wins on the season though. They have wins at No. 25 Kentucky, No. 23 Missouri, No. 17 Arkansas (in the Metroplex Challenge), No. 9 Georgia, at No. 7 Auburn, and No. 3 Florida. LSU has the best loss of any one-loss team (along with Michigan) and has the best wins of any one-loss team with three top 10 wins.

3. Florida - 197.270 (5-2)

Florida suffered their second loss and fell from No. 2 when they fell at LSU this past Friday. Despite their two losses, the Gators are ranked so highly partially due to their 198.225 over No. 23 Missouri (the highest score of any squad this season). Florida has lost at No. 5 Alabama and at No. 2 LSU. Florida has wins over No. 7 Auburn, No. 9 Georgia, No. 17 Arkansas, and No. 23 Missouri. If rankings were done more similarly to football/basketball, I would not expect Florida to be ranked No. 3 given their two losses (they are ranked so highly given their season best 198.225 driving up their average). They would likely be ranked No. 6 behind Utah, Michigan, and Alabama.

4. Utah - 197.265 (9-0)

Utah is the second highest ranked undefeated team after No. 1 Oklahoma (and the only other undefeated team in the top 10). The Red Rocks have faced tough competition so far in their season including wins over No. 15 Boise State and No. 21 Southern Utah (in the same meet), No. 10 UCLA, at No. 20 Arizona, at No. 22 Washington, and No. 11 Stanford. Utah has chances to take down several more top gymnastics programs with meets at No. 12 Oregon State, against No. 6 Michigan, and at No. 9 Georgia. Utah would likely be ranked higher using the football/basketball ranking system. They are undefeated and have one win over a top 10 team and six wins over top 25 teams. They would likely be ranked No. 3 ahead of Florida but likely behind LSU (given their tougher schedule).

5. Alabama - 197.055 (6-1)

Alabama suffered an upset loss early in the season at No. 17 Arkansas, their only setback on the season. Alabama does not have as good of a loss as LSU and Michigan (who both lost to No. 1 Oklahoma), but they have wins over strong competition including against No. 20 Arizona, No. 3 Florida, at No. 25 Kentucky, against No. 7 Auburn, and at No. 9 Georgia. Alabama still has tough match ups at No. 2 LSU, at No. 23 Missouri, versus No. 7 Auburn (in Birmingham, Ala.), and against No. 1 Oklahoma. If football/basketball rankings were used, Alabama would likely stay at No. 5 but would be ranked ahead of Florida (who they defeated) but behind Michigan.

6. Michigan - 196.985 (8-1)

Michigan was undefeated prior to losing to No. 1 Oklahoma at home, in a meet where they nearly pulled the upset. Michigan has wins at No. 9 Georgia, against No. 16 Illinois, and against No. 8 Nebraska. Michigan has to travel to No. 4 Utah and has the Big Five Meet left (which includes No. 13 Penn State, No. 14 Minnesota, and No. 24 Iowa). Michigan would likely be ranked higher using football/basketball ranking system. Given that they have a better loss than Alabama and a better record than Florida, Michigan would likely be ranked No. 4.

7. Auburn - 196.610 (4-3)

Auburn has fallen at No. 3 Florida, at No. 5 Alabama, and against No. 2 LSU. Auburn has wins over No. 17 Arkansas and at No. 23 Missouri. Auburn has to face No. 9 Georgia, at No. 25 Kentucky, and versus No. 5 Alabama (in Birmingham, Ala.). While Auburn's losses were all against top 5 teams, I think they would likely be ranked

8. Nebraska - 196.595 (9-2)

Nebraska's two losses were at No. 6 Michigan and at No. 10 UCLA (in a four team meet). Nebraska has wins over No. 14 Penn State, No. 24 Iowa, and at No. 15 Minnesota. Using football/basketball style rankings, Nebraska would likely still be ranked No. 8 by jumping No. 7 Auburn given that they have only lost twice and have better wins but behind No. 10 UCLA who beat Nebraska and has a better overall record.

9. Georgia - 196.525 (3-5)

Georgia is likely the biggest benefactor of any of the top 10 teams of the ranking system that gymnastics uses. It would be unheard of in football/basketball for a team to be ranked in the top 10 with a losing record. Georgia has wins over No. 23 Missouri and No. 25 Kentucky. Their losses were to No. 6 Michigan, at No. 18 Denver, at No. 3 Florida, at No. 2 LSU, and against No. 5 Alabama. Even though four of their five losses were to top 10 teams, Georgia would not be ranked in the top 10 if football/basketball rankings were used.

10. UCLA - 196.315 (8-1)

UCLA's lone loss was at No. 4 Utah. The Bruins have wins at No. 12 Oregon State, against No. 20 Arizona, over No. 19 California, against No. 22 Washington, at No. 11 Stanford, and over No. 8 Nebraska (in a four team meet). UCLA would likely be ranked No. 7 if the rankings were based on the system used by football/basketball since they have only lost once and have wins over one top 10 team and 6 top 25 teams.

Gymnastics with its unbiased scoring average ranking system has some benefits over the system used for football/basketball since it does not require a committee, coaches, or sports writers to give their (biased) opinion to decide the rankings. It does however cause certain teams to be ranked higher than they would be if the human element was included, given that head to head meetings do not count for anything other than towards each team's respect average score (like having Florida ranked ahead of an Alabama team they lost to or Nebraska over UCLA). No ranking system is perfect, but at the end of the day, I like the unbiased nature of gymnastics rankings rather than the bias that affects rankings in major men's sports (especially football).

BlockU SOS Adjusted Top 25

BlockU Rank Team Record Actual Rank
1 Oklahoma 11-0 1
2 LSU 9-1 2
3 Utah 9-0 4
4 Michigan 8-1 6
5 Alabama 6-1 5
6 Florida 5-2 3
7 UCLA 8-1 10
8 Nebraska 9-2 8
9 Auburn 4-3 7
10 Illinois 6-1 16
11 Penn State 7-2 13
12 Georgia 3-5 9
13 Oregon State 7-3 12
14 California 10-2 19
15 Stanford 4-6 11
16 Boise State 7-3 15
17 Denver 7-4 18
18 Arkansas 4-6 17
19 Minnesota 7-4 14
20 Kentucky 4-4 25
21 Arizona 5-4 20
22 Washington 5-5 22
23 Southern Utah 6-4 21
24 Missouri 5-5 23
25 Iowa 3-6 24