Don’t let the Michigan Dodgeball Cup (MDC) distract you from everything else going on this weekend. Over in Richmond, Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) will be hosting the Border War, consisting of teams exclusively from neighbor states Virginia and Maryland.
Why should anyone pay attention?
Well, 3 of the top 10 teams in the country will be present which includes #4 James Madison University (JMU), #5 Towson University (TU), and #9 VCU. The University of Virginia (UVA) and University of Maryland (UMD) both have an opportunity to move up 2-3 spots in terms of seeding with a win. There will also be three JV teams playing which means we will have the opportunity to see the future of the league. Here are some headlines to watch out for this coming weekend.
JMU or TU Can Become #2 in the Country
Now some of this will depend on how everything plays out in Michigan, but if Towson or JMU are able to finish the weekend undefeated then there is a good chance this could happen. JMU will have the added benefit of a 4 game schedule, giving them a better opportunity to help increase their ranking. In Elias Sports Bureau fashion, this will be the first regular season matchup between JMU and Towson on a neutral court since November 2013. The last previous neutral court match between these two programs was at Nationals 2015 in WKU. What does this mean? Probably nothing important.
Needless to say, both sides have almost completely different lineups since that time period. For JMU, they will be in a good position for their match against Towson. Towson will be coming off their first match against VCU in what should shape up to be a competitive and potentially draining game. Additionally, JMU will be coming off a game against UVA, which on paper looks to be a one-sided affair. Neither JMU or Towson should underestimate UMD and UVA, but recent history has certainly put those games much more in their favor.
Either way, if JMU or Towson has the #2 rank going into pool play at Nationals, it will certainly make it much easier for either team to get better seeding for the bracket portion. At the moment, a full bracket means that seeds 1-3 all currently get a first round bye. This would be incredibly beneficial for teams that hope to make a deep tournament run come April.
VCU is in a High-Risk, Low-Reward Situation
What do I mean by that? VCU will have games against UVA, Towson, and JMU. As mentioned before, JMU and Towson are both solid teams, and VCU has never beaten either in their program’s history. So as a hypothetical, let’s say VCU pulls off some upsets and goes undefeated, how far would they move up from their #9 spot? Realistically, the most they could move up to is #7. The point gap between the 7th and 8th spot is pretty large right now, making it very difficult for teams to jump into the range of #1-7.
On the other end, if they lose to multiple opponents this weekend, VCU is not likely to drop any spots, however it will put Penn State and Western Kentucky in a much better position to pass them. For a team that has much more momentum now than in previous seasons, it’s not too far-fetched to think this team could pull off a big win.
Don’t Be Surprised by a UVA or UMD Upset
The Cavaliers are in their second official season with the league and are still searching for their first win. Their best opportunity will be against UMD in their first match of the day. UMD has been struggling in recent memory, which is part of what could give UVA an edge. I have talked about their raw talent and athleticism before, but I still need to see them to put it all together at one time.
The lack of experience was definitely something to note last season. Now that they have a full year under their belts though, they can’t call themselves completely new anymore. Perhaps this tournament will be a chance for this team to show their growth over the past year and a half.
As for UMD’s side, their game against UVA will be just as important for them. A win for the Terps should move them up to #18 from their #20 spot at the moment. An interesting matchup to watch for UMD however is against Towson. I may sound crazy, but there is upset potential there. True, UMD hasn’t come within 2 points against Towson this season, but that’s all the more reason for me to think an upset will occur.
Schedule and Gonzalez Exchanges
|Time||High Seed||Low Seed||Rating||Rating||Predicted Exchange||Exchange if Upset|