This Saturday, every collegiate dodgeball club within the state of Michigan will converge on IM Sports West on the campus of Michigan State University for the 16th Annual Michigan Dodgeball Cup (MDC). Games begin at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday and will be streamed live on the NCDA’s social media channels.
#1 Grand Valley State will be the headliner team at this event, entering the MDC with an identical 15-0 record to last year at this time. The Lakers are loaded with stars including Ben Smart, Nolan Stanko, Alex Jonauskas and a host of others. Britt Skinner has emerged as one of GVSU’s top players, making clutch catches at their last tournament. Coda Gallagher is an OT 6 player for GVSU, and an underrated thrower. Veterans like Collin Freeman and Blake Clevenger continue to improve, and both have dangerous arms and clutch catching skills. Captain Josh Hill is another star for GVSU, and he will look to continue an MDC title streak dating back all the way to 2015, and continue his teams undefeated record. Hill, and the Lakers were not pleased with their performance two weeks ago on their home floor, where they escaped Michigan State in an overtime game. Look for this team to be much more focused and disciplined on Saturday.
#5 Central Michigan enters this tournament with a little bit of momentum after a convincing 4-1 win over MSU the last time they took the floor. The Chippewas had a bit of a cold streak in the middle of the season, but heading into MDC, this team may be turning the corner at the right time. CMU will benefit from the return of Eric Nelson, who missed their previous tournament. His arm and leadership will be crucial to the team’s success on Saturday. Kyle Garner is another star for CMU who is improving every time he plays. Look for Garner to once again be a key part of the CMU gameplan. Speaking of key pieces for Central, Jared Brown and Austin Grignon are two of the x-factors for Central if they want to win big this weekend. The play of those two individuals in the middle of the court, along with the throwing performance of Scott Imburgia could be the keys to this team’s success. CMU has the tools to hang with GVSU and beat any other team at this event. If they bring their best effort on Saturday, look out. A few more players to look out for are Jawanza Edwards, Doug Daniel, and Jaylen Stafford. All three are fantastic catchers, with Stafford standing out quite a bit two weeks ago with his catching abilities.
#7 Michigan State is possibly the toughest team to gauge in college dodgeball right now. On one hand, you see a team loaded with talent, with the ability to go toe to toe with GVSU. On the other hand, you see a young, inconsistent squad that can’t put together a full tournament of strong play. Their inconsistent showing at GVSU’s tournament two weeks ago may have raised a lot of questions about what type of team MSU is, but make no mistake, MDC is an opportunity for the Spartans to change the narrative surrounding their team. This squad has so much potential, and a strong performance at MDC will help them prove to the rest of the country that they are an elite team with the ability to play well throughout an entire day. MSU’s depth is undeniable, with talented players up and down their roster. Jacob Georges was the top arm for the Spartans two weeks ago, Dennis Sullivan continues to show he is a dynamic all-around player, rookie Barry Butler is an overtime roster player for the Spartans, and a reliable arm, Brent Weakland continues to make big plays any chance he gets, Jack Hilt is a highlight machine and may have some of the best hands in the league, Jake Lico is one of MSU’s most important pieces on offense, the list goes on. The Spartans have the talent to beat any team in the NCDA. The schedule sets up nicely for them on Saturday. Michigan State has not finished above .500 at the MDC since 2005. Ask an MSU alum and they will tell you it’s a legitimate curse. Well, curses are meant to be broken, and this Spartan squad has more than enough skill to make it happen.
#13 Saginaw Valley State has had a bit of a down year so far. The Cardinals have only 3 wins on the year, with 9 losses. Two weekends ago they traveled to GVSU and lost to both the Lakers and Spartans, but did get a win over WMU. Overall, they look like the clear choice to finish 4th at this event, but if history is any indication, they will perform the best they do all season at this tournament and maybe pull off an upset or two. Jake Bruce is the top player for SVSU. Look for him to continue to be a centerpiece for their offense. Dylan McDonald and Bryce Stevens are a few more players with all-around skillset to keep an eye on. Saginaw can leave with a smile on their face if they get 2 wins on Saturday. This team is in a rebuilding year after being left without much left in the cupboard at the end of last season. The leaders of this year’s team have done a good job putting together a solid class of rookies to help make up for lost time. If the Cardinals can continue to improve they will eventually pull off an upset over one of these Michigan schools. MDC could be the time for that to happen.
#22 Western Michigan will be headed to the MDC for a second consecutive season. The Broncos earned their first points as a club two weeks ago at GVSU in their game against SVSU. WMU is still struggling to field a full roster, but captain Peter Broe has things headed in the right direction with this team continuing to get experience. WMU is also planning to head to CSU for the Viking Cup in a few weeks, showing that this squad is starting to turn the corner and gain the ability to travel out of state for events. WMU will struggle mightily at MDC against teams of this caliber, but they will again gain some much needed experience that will serve them well in the future.
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