All is Fair in Love and War

It’s time to take a break from the craziness that has been the Captain’s Page and all of the rule proposals popping up.  Let’s make dodgeball great again!  This weekend the University of Akron will be hosting The War, which is the largest and last tournament of the 2016-2017 regular season.

11 teams from 5 different states will come to Akron, OH to compete in The War.  Needless to say, it’s a pretty big deal, with a lot of implications on seeding heading into Nationals, take a look at an article by our VP Zigmas Maloni, Status Quo Ante Bellum, on the possible exchanges.  There has also been a lot of talk off the court heading into this weekend, which I’m sure will translate into some exciting on court performances.

GVSU – Provided by Kevin Bailey
Schedule: Ohio, MSU, VCU

GVSU enters The War as the clear favorite, and deservedly so. The Lakers are on quite the hot streak lately, coming off some big wins at both MDC and Blast from the Past. Grand Valley will step on the court one last time before Nationals, and will certainly be gearing up for that final tournament. I expect GVSU to be at the top of their game at The War.

GVSU takes on Ohio in their first match, and will be very motivated for this match. Ohio boasts an ODC title this year, while GVSU boasts an MDC title. If there is anyone questioning which is more significant, GVSU will do their best to silence those doubters this weekend. Next up, GVSU plays MSU. I’m not happy with the scheduling for forcing this matchup to occur again. These teams play enough, give them some new opponents. With that said, GVSU should take the W from the Spartans. Last game of the day will be Grand Valley against East Coast up and comer: VCU. GVSU holds a major advantage in talent and experience, so I expect a convincing win there too. This will be GVSU’s last tune up before Nationals. I expect them clicking on all cylinders.

PSU
Schedule: DePaul, BGSU, Kent

The Nittany Lions are currently the #11 team in the country, sitting 0.005(!) Gonzalez points below #10 VCU.  This tournament can have a significant impact on their ranking just like many other schools.  With only three games on their schedule so far this year, they will use the War as a resume booster heading into Nationals.  I expect Ken Russ, Jeff Schwartz, and Damian Pazuchanics to come out strong for this team.  They will need to be sharp to pick up some quality wins.

Their first game against DePaul will be a bit of a mystery for both sides.  Neither have played each other this season, nor do they have any mutual opponents.  I expect PSU to be able to get the win here but who knows, DePaul has pulled off big wins before.  As for BGSU and Kent, those will be different stories.  BGSU has been hot in recent months, so both momentum and experience is definitely in their favor.  It’s the same story with Kent, along with having just a bit more talent than PSU has shown this year.  Time for PSU to truly test their abilities this weekend.

Kent
Schedule: Ohio, VCU, PSU

Kent is holding onto that #8 spot and first-round pretty securely at the moment.  They are a little over 1 Gonzalez Point ahead of #9 OSU, and around 1.5 points behind #7 MSU.  So what does this mean for their team this weekend?  Just win baby win.  They ultimately control their destiny to keep that spot, and there’s a good chance they can.

They start off against Ohio, a game I guarantee they circled big time in their schedule.  After beating them 2-0 and 4-0 earlier this season, they fell to the Bobcats at the Ohio Dodgeball Cup 3-2 in OT.  Expect no love lost in this matchup with Kent being back to their full strength, and playing in what basically is their backyard.  Playing against VCU will be tight as well.  The series between these two teams is even this year, with both matches resulting in 2-1 OT finishes.  Kent will have more firepower in this game, and as long as they make smart decisions then they should pick up the win against what will likely be a fatigued VCU squad.  For their final game against PSU, I actually see Kent picking up a big win most likely.  It will be PSU’s third straight game after traveling all day, so there is sure to be fatigue.  A 3-0 tournament for Kent would further cement the Golden Flashes in that first-round bye spot, so look for them to come out swinging all day.

MSU
Schedule: VCU, Akron, GVSU

Unfortunately for MSU, they are currently riding a 5-game losing steak and 2-7 overall in their past three weekends.  This has caused them to drop from #2 to #7 over that time period.  Let’s be real here though, much like VCU, their recent struggles can also be attributed to the strength of schedule.  Every loss over that period has been to teams currently ranked 1-5.  Not many teams go through that kind of gauntlet and pull off great records.

MSU will start their morning with a chance at a repeat victory against VCU.  This was the first game to start off what ended up being a crazy weekend at JMU.  The Spartans will do everything in their power to make sure that isn’t the case again.  Against Akron I don’t see them having too much difficulty if they play like they should.  That being said, it’s never a good idea to sleep on a host school.  Any reckless play could put MSU in a position they won’t be comfortable playing in.  Finally, much to their dismay, they got scheduled against GVSU for their last game.  Recent history is certainly in favor of GVSU, but hey, they have more wins against them than any other school this year.  Expect anything.

Ohio
Schedule Day 1: GVSU, VCU
Schedule Day 2: Kent, Akron

Ohio is currently riding a 4-game win streak, which includes an impressive 3-0 performance at the Ohio Dodgeball Cup.  Giving credit where credit is due, after last season I doubt there’s many people who could’ve imagined this team team moving to where it is now.  From winless in their first season to winning the premier event in dodgeball for the state of Ohio is nothing to scoff at.  This has resulted in some tempers flaring among many teams, and a lot of schools are looking to test the Bobcat’s mettle. I feel pretty confident in saying that if teams had a chance to redo their requests for Nationals they would be the most request team now.

Taking a look at their schedule, this will be a good chance to see if Ohio’s latest performance was real or just a fluke.  Day 1 against GVSU and VCU will be tough for this team.  Last year they lost to GVSU at Nationals 4-0, and this season they lost to VCU 3-0 at PSU’s Rally in the Valley.  A win against either team would be a big exclamation point to their already improved season.  As for the second day, they get familiar opponents in Kent and Akron.  They picked up their first wins over both schools this past semester.  Both schools will certainly be looking for revenge against this Ohio team, which will only make Ohio’s efforts harder.  I believe this team needs to go at least 2-2 in order to validate themselves.  Might be a little harsh, but this is definitely the chance for Caleb and his team to prove they are for real.

VCU
Day 1 Schedule: MSU, Ohio, GVSU
Day 2 Schedule: BGSU, Kent

VCU has been on a little bit of a downturn over the past few weeks.  After coming off of what some consider to be their strongest performance of the season, they went 1-2 in back to back tournaments for the first time all season.  Granted, their losses were to JMU, Towson, and Kent, but you have to play the hand you’re dealt.  The War will be the perfect opportunity for VCU to get back on the right track as they will have 5 games to boost their ranking.

This tournament will by no means be an easy one for the Rams, however.  Their all-time combined record against the teams they will be facing is 1-4 with three of those losses coming in OT.  This is a different team than year’s past, but as the story has been all year, they will need to continue to prove that change was an improvement.  As it stands, VCU would be projected wins over Ohio and BGSU, and losses to MSU, GVSU, and Kent.  If this team hopes to move into the top 8 and get a bye during the first round at Nationals, they will need to make big moves here.  Most likely that will include needing to pick up wins against MSU and Kent at a minimum.

Can this team do it?  Sure.  As said before, they went to OT against most of these teams so they are certainly within range.  The War will be the time to truly see if this team can be dark horse contenders or pretenders for Nationals.

DePaul – Provided by Zigmas Maloni
Day 1 Schedule: BW, Cleveland State
Day 2 Schedule: PSU, BGSU

This is the first non-Nationals, two day event in DePaul’s long history. DePaul’s initial rating has never fared better. They have an explicit goal to break the 40 point barrier. After a long 13 game season, they’ve increased their pre-season Gonzalez rating of 35.518 to 38.078, and maintained a solid games played schedule that will give them the experience to potentially knock matches from BW and Cleveland State on day one. All of DePaul’s scheduled matches are close in strength and all will have good weight going into Nationals.

DePaul is always a young team. It looks like they are able to field a 19 player roster, with a healthy assortment of players of all years. Their veterans are well known inside the League and out, and the younger players are developing into fine DePaul Dodgeballers over a busy season. Plenty of cannons, catchers, and smart players in the lot. Plus, you can’t defeat DePaul’s attitude. I hope this isn’t lost on their competitors.

DePaul’s key to success will be to use their veterans to efficiently coordinate the rest of the team on the court. DePaul always has a tenacity of surviving in a point while actually still actively playing dodgeball. Competitors, spectators, and commentators should look out for the Pork Shoulder from Tyler “Ham”ilton, for many could very well end up saying “I like that Ham” by weekend’s end. I have no doubt DePaul will be traveling home Undefeated.

Colby Briceland

University Of Akron

Day 1 Schedule: CSU, MSU, BW                                                                         Day 2 Schedule: OU

The home team for this tournament and also the lowest ranked team in attendance, the Zips will surly try to make a statement this weekend by proving that their rank is not a reflection on their game. Having a home advantage, I expect the zips to be well rested and ready to defend their yard. We have not seen any extravagant play from the zips at all this year besides a couple of close games against VCU and PSU and the technical upset of UNG, but this weekend will give them a chance to show what they’re made of.

Being almost at a full squad with Co-Captains Adam Pfeifer and Colby Briceland both together for the first time since the ODC, with also having the combined efforts of Joey Stacks and Joshua Lyons, with sleeper agent Russell Bolender in attendance, the Zips will almost be at full power. Along with efforts from young and rising zips Nick Irhin (The man behind the poster) (Sorry Anuj, next time you’ll be front and center), and Ryan Cook and Anthony Serapiglia, this could be the chance for some other Zips to catch some spotlight, be on the lookout for great things from this young zips squad.

Yeah, their schedule is full of teams that are of higher rank, I wouldn’t be surprised if Akron can pull off some more upsets and gain some rank.

Cleveland State

Schedule: Akron, DePaul, BW

It’s always exciting to gain a new team with close proximity to your own, I am really glad that the vikings could come out to play and get some more experience under their belts coming into their first nationals. I expect some adjustments to their play from the ODC because they now have a taste of victory with their dominant win over Marietta, but they also had some tough losses, both of which being very close games. This team has a lot of raw talent at their disposal, and with experienced captains Matt Klembara and Alan Wardeiner this team can do some great things.

They play Akron first, which will be a fun game to watch because of the familiarity between Alan and the Zips, he had a hand in their dodgeball club’s creation. Best friends turned rivals will definitely not hold anything back. DePaul will be their first out of state match-up and I am really looking forward to it! it’ll give CSU a little notion of what nationals might be like. Their last match against BW looks to be like it’ll come down to the wire, with BW having an experience advantage, but don’t count out the Vikings!

Baldwin Wallace

Schedule: Akron, DePaul, Cleveland

Coming straight from their ODC loss, Connor Rigsby and the yellow jackets have something to prove tomorrow. This weekend will be a good chance for them to solidify their ranks and also get their newer players some quality matches before nationals. They shouldn’t be to tired in the beginning of the day, being only about 40 minutes away, but their first match might tucker them out a bit.

BW plays Akron in what should be a great match-up. These teams have not played yet this year after playing many times last year, these teams always have a great time during their matches. I expect this one to be either very close, as in OT close, or a big win for one of them. They also play DePaul today, which is also shaping up to be a great match. These teams have not squared up ever in their careers, so it will be interesting to see the different styles of play between the two. Cleveland state has a bone to pick with the yellow jackets this match since their last match-up was a close one. I look at BW being the more experienced team taking the W, but ya never know.

Bowling Green

Schedule: PSU, VCU, DePaul

This team has been on a rampage this semester, kickin ass and takin names. After their impressive OT performance against OSU at the Ohio Dodgeball Cup, this team will try to keep their momentum going into Lexington. The falcons will need break-out performances from all hands to be able to pull these close games off. With players like Tyrell Smith, Tyler Wickham, and the Broyles bros, this could be a great tourney for BG.

They play solely on the second day of War, their first match being against a very evenly matched VCU. Hopefully the Rams aren’t feeling too fatigued or this one may be over before you know it. The falcons are the entire package, catchers, throwers and for some, smash-mouth players, and will want to bring their A-game against VCU. Penn State and BG could be the best game of the day, or a huge blowout, BG definitely has the advantage with having played more games this season than the Nittany Lions, but if they take them lightly, they will be in for a rude awakening, it could be more of a shocker than when PSU upset OSU in football. I should say the same thing about DePaul, the first time these teams met, it didn’t go so well. I will be keeping a close eye on this game, that can make or break either team’s nationals spot.

 

 

Games to Watch

MSU v VCU

As said earlier, the last time these two played it was an overtime win for MSU.  Right now, MSU and VCU are #7 and #10, respectively.  This means they would be paired up for an early round matchup on Sunday at Nationals, and if it holds, this will be another preview of that potential playoff match.

PSU v BGSU

What makes this so intriguing is the spread between these two teams is not that far.  A 2-1 performance for PSU is likely to move them up into the top 10 depending on how VCU performs.  As for BGSU, the technical upset would be big for them to move in ranking as well.  The big performers of this match will probably be Ken Russ (PSU) and Tyrell Smith (BGSU) who are also both All-Stars for their team.

Ohio v …Everyone

There are a lot of teams that want their chance at Ohio.  Especially MSU, GVSU, and Kent.  Many people are curious about how Ohio will handle their most difficult schedule to date, myself included.  Let’s see what the Bobcats are truly made of.

 

The War

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