After the No. 3 Michigan men’s gymnastics team lost by a little more than four-tenths of a point to No. 2 Oklahoma on Saturday afternoon, it was hard not to wonder one thing: What if Chris Cameron was at full strength?

Cameron, who was just named to the U.S. Senior Men’s National Team for the third consecutive year, has placed in the top five individual scores on the floor, pommel horse and parallel bars in each match he has performed in at full strength, dating back to the home opener against Penn State on Jan. 24.

His injury, which he described as a sprain of the middle and index fingers, kept him from competing in all three of those areas on Saturday. And in what could be seen as a direct result of his absence, the team’s weakest events on Saturday were the pommel horse and the parallel bars, where the Wolverines scored a 56.650 and 55.900, respectively. Compare that to when Cameron led the Wolverines to a 57.750 on the pommel horse and a season high 58.450 on the parallel bars Jan. 30, and it’s obvious that his absence had an impact.

Afterward, Cameron expressed frustration at not being able to compete, but was optimistic about the team’s strength. He noted that the team scored one of its lowest scores of the season on the pommel horse and still tied Oklahoma in that category.

“We definitely could have won without Chris’s other events,” senior Mel Anton Santander said.

It’s safe to say that’s true. Had they eliminated the bobbles on the parallel bars and perfected their dismounts, the Wolverines likely would have picked up that extra .45 that would have given them the victory.

“But Chris could have been a huge factor into winning today,” Santander continued.

Also true. His presence on the parallel bars and pommel horse was definitely missed.

The main question here is not how weak are the Wolverines without Cameron, but how much better than everybody else would they be with him?

Michigan and Cameron will attempt to answer that question as Cameron said he continues to take all the necessary precautions to heal his hand as quickly as possible in the five weeks leading up to the Big Ten Championships. And when they arrive April 2, he will be out there competing in all six events, “no matter what.”

The bottom line is that the difference between Michigan and Oklahoma’s final score was as small as four tenths of a point. The difference between Michigan being a great team and being the best team in the country is as big as Chris Cameron.

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