2023 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships: Regionals Preview

By Hannah Johnson | March 29, 2023
The University of Oklahoma women's gymnastics team huddles during the 2023 Big 12 Gymnastics Championship.
The University of Oklahoma women's gymnastics team huddles during the 2023 Big 12 Gymnastics Championship. (© Amy Sanderson)

The path to the 2023 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships starts here. National Qualifying Scores (NQS) were used to determine the top 36 teams who will be competing for the title. Read on for a preview of each regional, including favored teams and important notes.

The 36 qualified teams have been split into four different regional sites: Norman, Los Angeles, Denver, and Pittsburgh. The two lowest-ranked teams of each regional will compete against each other in a “play-in” matchup for the last spot in the second round of the regional. After that, the second round takes place with two sessions of four teams each. 

The top two teams from each session of the second round of regionals advance to the regional final. From there, the top two teams advance to the national semifinal (top eight teams total) from which the “Four on the Floor” is created, whose winner is the National Champion.

Norman Regional

First Round Play-In: North Carolina State vs. Ball State

The Wolfpack and the Cardinals will go head-to-head for the final spot in the second round of the Norman Regional. Based on NQS, the Wolfpack are favored in this matchup. That being said, the Wolfpack scored a tenth higher than the Cardinals in their conference championship, essentially showing that the teams are so similarly matched that either could win depending on the day.

One advantage that Ball State has over North Carolina State is 10.0 start value vaults. The Cardinals have multiple in their lineup while the Wolfpack do not have any. If Ball State can hone in on the landings of these vaults, it could be the deciding factor that might just push the Cardinals to victory.

Session 1 of Round 2: #8 Alabama, #9 Kentucky, Illinois, and Iowa

This session appears pretty straightforward. Alabama and Kentucky should both easily advance. The teams are so closely matched it is nearly impossible to predict who will come out on top, but it doesn’t really matter. All the teams want is to be in the top two spots of the session. 

Session 2 of Round 2: #1 Oklahoma, #16 Ohio State, Arkansas, and winner of NC State/Ball State

Oklahoma should have absolutely no problem moving onto the regional final. Ohio State is likely to be the second team from this session to advance. On a typical day, the most likely challenger to Ohio State would be Arkansas, but after early retirements from fifth years Bailey Lovett and Kennedy Hambrick, the Razorbacks may not perform to their full potential.

Los Angeles Regional

First Round Play-In: BYU vs. Boise State

Both of these MRGC mainstays took considerable steps backward this season as compared to last. After avoiding play-in meets last year, both are going to have to participate in one this year to try to get to the second round of regionals. 

At the MRGC Championships, we got a preview of what this matchup would look like, and BYU bested Boise State by nearly six-tenths. After being a top-10 bars team last year, Boise State looks almost unrecognizable on the event – so much so that it has been a problem spot for them in multiple meets this year. If the Broncos want any chance at upsetting a higher-ranked BYU team and advancing to round two, they are going to need to find a new gear on bars. 

Session 1 of Round 2: #5 Utah, #12 Auburn, Southern Utah, and Washington 

Barring a complete catastrophe, Utah will advance to the regional final. Mathematically speaking, they are most likely to be joined by Auburn. However, fresh off the MRGC Conference Championship title, Southern Utah may give the Tigers a run for their money. Auburn has shown it is vulnerable without reigning Olympic all-around champion Suni Lee. Her status for the meet is still TBA.

Session 2 of Round 2: #4 UCLA, #13 Missouri, Stanford, and winner of BYU/Boise St.

As the host school, UCLA will have all the momentum to easily move on to the regional final. After a bit of a meltdown at Pac-12 Championships, it seems unlikely that Stanford has it in them this year to challenge Missouri to be the second team advancing. Missouri’s veterans are much easier to bet on to perform under intense pressure than Stanford’s freshmen, albeit both are extremely talented.

Denver Regional

First Round Play-In: Arizona vs. North Carolina

Play-in teams are supposed to be teams ranked 29-36. However, because of the geography requirements of the non-seeded (17-36) team assignments to regionals, sometimes that is not always the case. This year, no. 28 Arizona got the short end of the stick for the sake of “geography”. Yes, the same geography that sent individual qualifiers from California schools across the country instead of to the Los Angeles Regional that is quite literally right there

Nevertheless, Arizona is going to be forced into the play-in round for a shot at the second round of this regional. At No. 28, Arizona is quite better on paper than UNC, the 35th and penultimate qualifier to regionals. If star Malia Hargrove hits to her abilities, her Wildcats should have no problem advancing. For the amount of talent on their roster, North Carolina has underperformed all year. It would be quite the upset if the Tar Heels suddenly found themselves in the postseason.

Session 1 of Round 2: #6 LSU, #11 Oregon State, Georgia, and Nebraska

It is hard to see a scenario in which anyone other than LSU and Oregon State advances from this session. This said, despite being the lowest ranked of the four teams here, a perfect meet from Nebraska could be enough to take the place of Oregon State in the regional finals. Nebraska is peaking at the right time and could advance if the Beavers make mistakes.

Session 2 of Round 2: #3 Michigan #14 Denver, Minnesota, and winner of Arizona/UNC

Michigan is going to the regional finals. There is really no other outcome. A couple weeks ago, Denver probably would have been picked to join Michigan without hesitation. However, the results of conference championships may indicate a potential upset from Minnesota.

The Gophers truly figured out beam for the first time this season to place third at Big Ten Championships despite being in the afternoon session. Minnesota actually earned a higher team score there than Denver did at Big 12s. It will certainly be interesting to watch who will get this final spot, especially since the home crowd may give Denver a bit of a boost to advance to the regional finals. 

Pittsburgh Regional

First Round Play-In: Towson vs. Penn State

While Towson has the higher regular-season NQS coming in, Penn State has a higher ceiling. It will truly come down to which team hits cleanly across all four events. Bars was the event that carried Towson through to regionals. However, they have not been as sharp on the event as of late. If Towson hits to their potential on bars, they could get the job done here, but Penn State is very capable on the event as well. 

Session 1 of Round 2: #7 California, #10 Michigan State, Western Michigan, and West Virginia

It would be a huge shock if it was anyone other than the two seeded teams advancing to the regional final. California and Michigan State have been performing their best gymnastics when it matters most and should easily make it to the next round. 

Session 2 of Round 2: #2 Florida, #15 Arizona State, Maryland, and winner of Towson/Penn St.

The two who advance from this session are a bit more up-in-the-air than that of the first session. Florida should make it through easily, but Arizona State and Maryland vying for the second spot is sure-to-be entertaining. Both teams have gone both 197 and 195 this year. These teams are very streaky, and it is hard to predict which version of each is going to show up. Whoever performs to their fullest potential is likely to win.