2021 NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Championships preview: Powerhouses poised to dominate

By Patricia Duffy | April 15, 2021
2021 NCAA Men's Gymnastics Championship preview: Powerhouses poised to dominate
© Oklahoma, Michigan, and Stanford Athletics.

It might be hard to believe, but we made it! The finale of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Gymnastics season is upon us, and what a finale it is shaping up to be.

In this post, we’ll preview the men’s field and provide links to watch and live blogs. Gymnastics Now will be bringing you coverage of both the men’s and women’s championship events all weekend long, with the aforementioned live blogs, as well as recaps, photo galleries, and much more. If you don’t already, make sure to also follow us on social (links below) for the most comprehensive coverage.

Keep reading for all the details on the 2021 NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Championships.

2021 NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Championships

Where, when, and how to watch

The 2021 NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Championships begin Friday, April 16, at the Maturi Sports Pavilion on the University of Minnesota campus. The competition will feature two semifinals on Friday at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. ET and will conclude Saturday with finals at 8 p.m. ET.

Per the NCAA, “Three teams and the top three all-around competitors not on one of the qualifying teams, plus the top three individuals on each event not already qualified on a team or as an all-around competitor, will advance from each pre-qualifying session to the finals session.”

Friday, April 16 – SemifinalsScoresLive BlogStream
2:00pm ET – Ohio State, Oklahoma (Semifinal 1)LINKS1 Live BlogBTN+ (FREE)
2:00pm ET – Nebraska, Navy (Semifinal 1)LINKS1 Live BlogBTN+ (FREE)
2:00pm ET – Illinois, William & Mary (Semifinal 1)LINKS1 Live BlogBTN+ (FREE)
8:00pm ET – Iowa, Stanford (Semifinal 2)LINKS2 Live BlogBTN+ (FREE)
8:00pm ET – Michigan, Penn State (Semifinal 2)LINKS2 Live BlogBTN+ (FREE)
8:00pm ET – Minnesota, Cal (Semifinal 2)LINKS2 Live BlogBTN+ (FREE)
Saturday, April 17 – FinalsScoresLive BlogStream
8:00pm ET – NCAA Finals LINKFinals Live BlogBig Ten Network (If you can’t access through your cable package, try a YouTube TV free trial.)

The contenders

Team qualifiers (in order of NQS): Oklahoma, Michigan, Stanford, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State, Iowa (final season), Illinois, Navy, Minnesota (final season), California, and William & Mary. For individual qualifiers click here.

The preview

Once again, powerhouses Oklahoma and Stanford are title favorites, with Michigan right there with them in terms of talent and scoring potential.

The Sooners – who won the team title for four years straight from 2015-2018 – and Wolverines – who last won in 2014 – have topped out with team highs of 414.450 and 414.200, respectively, this season. They’re also the only teams to average a score of 410+. After getting a slow start due to California COVID restrictions, 2019 National Champion Stanford has recently hit its stride, posting a high of 412.500 so far this season. On the outside looking in, in terms of peak scoring, is Nebraska. The Cornhuskers have so far topped out at a solid 411.100 but will need to be on their game to contend with the other three this weekend.

If conference championship weekend was any indication, the Sooners, Wolverines, and Cardinal are in great position to battle for the 2021 title. The three teams were the only ones to break 400 out of all competitors. Even more impressive? They all went 410+, with the next highest team score being Nebraska at 398.000.

That weekend, Oklahoma (412.750) won the always-entertaining battle against defending champ Stanford (411.550) at the MPSF Championships. Meanwhile, Michigan (411.000) dominated the Big Ten Championships. But if you think Oklahoma’s got this in the bag, they don’t. Back in week 9, Stanford visited Oklahoma at home and the two teams finished in a tie – 409.300 to 409.300 – and since the Big Ten opted to compete a conference-only schedule for the regular season, neither teams have faced Michigan, or any other Big Ten team for that matter, yet this season.

Individually, Michigan stars Paul Juda and Cameron Bock are all-around favorites, with the sophomore Juda posting a NCAA-high 86.550 this season.

Since the 2020 season was cut short, this will be Juda’s first NCAA Championships experience, and his first opportunity to bring home some individual hardware. A somewhat surprising 2021 Winter Cup all-around champion, Bock could add another impressive win to his Olympic-contender resume, and speaking of Winter Cup, 2021 all-around silver medalist Riley Loos and Brody Malone, both from Stanford, are also ones to watch in the all-around.

Juda currently holds the NCAA season-high on both high bar with a 14.550. Stanford’s Blake Sun finished ahead of Juda in first on parallel bars at the conclusion of the regular season with a 14.271 average and 14.400 NQA, but Sun’s teammate Malone holds the highest score on parallel bars (or any event) this season with a 15.100.

The battle on vault should be an exciting one. Recent viral sensation Evan Manivong (Illinois) is in the mix, along with Stanford stars Zach Martin, Curran Phillips, and Brandon Nguyen. Nebraska’s Taylor Christopulos finished the season ahead of all of them though, with a 14.950 high, 14.692 average, and a 14.688 NQA. Plagued by an injury earlier this season, Oklahoma’s Gage Dyer came roaring back on the event at the MPSF Championships, winning the individual vault title with a massive 14.800.

Over on still rings, Bock and Stanford’s Ian Gunther are the only gymnasts to average a 14.000 or higher on the apparatus this season. Pommel horse could also be a battle of Bock vs. everyone else, as he sits at the top of those regular season standings with the only average above 14.000, but Penn State’s new pommel horse star Nick Mock owns the highest score in the country so far this season with a whopping 14.800.

The showstopper event, floor exercise, could be an all-Oklahoma battle. Dyer and teammate Morgan Seyler finished 1-2 in the regular season standings for the event. Seyler won the MPSF title just two weeks ago with a 14.850, and Dyer was right behind him with a 14.550. Penn State’s Matt Cormier and Illinois’ Connor McCool are also ones to watch on the event.

Correction: A previous version of this article listed Paul Juda as having the highest parallel bars score in the NCAA this season. Brody Malone actually holds that accolade with a 15.100.

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