All records are as of 03/03/13. Only schools that have played four or more games so far this season are in this preview.
-Led by Brady Etzler, Daniel Daugherty, and Dayv Muldowney
-Biggest Win: DePaul
-Strength: Catching. BG has a decent amount of catchers who can make big plays when needed.
-Weakness: Lack of depth. The Falcons have notoriously been top heavy for years, but this year it is more apparent than normal.
-Impact Player: Brady Etzler (BGSU #4-C). When he’s hot, he can make plays with the best of them. Cannon arm, decent catching ability, and good leadership makes him an all-around threat.
-X-Factor: Brady Etzler. He needs to be on if they want to win some games. His power throw plus his fiery composure can lead them to some W’s, but if he is cold then they could be in a world of hurt.
-Led by Wes Peters, Brett Hadwin, and Bryce Corrion
-Biggest Win: Miami
-Strength: Catching. The Chips are one of the best catching teams in the league, and their three stars are all elite catchers. They can catch their way to victory against any team.
-Weakness: Power throwing. Outside of Corrion (CMU #00-A) the Chips have only a few power arms in their lineup.
-Impact Player: Bryce Corrion (CMU #00-A). He’s one of the top players in the league, if not the top player, when healthy. He’s got a great arm and can snag anything that comes his way.
-X-Factor: Will the Chips have a full 15? They’ve shown they can win with 10, but it’ll be hard to make a run with such a depleted roster.
-Led by Troy Dixon, Anthony Netzel, Brian Van Meter
-Biggest Win: Moody
-Strength: Unpredictability. With DePaul you never know what to expect, and while they can lure you in with goofiness, they can also blast you if you’re not ready.
-Weakness: Strategy. DePaul wings it on the court, and they rarely seem to have a set strategy in place like some of the top schools do.
-Impact Player: Brian Van Meter (DePaul #91-A). His chop throw can be nasty, and he clearly stands out amongst his peers.
-X-Factor: Athleticism. Believe it or not, DePaul has some extremely athletic players who would make the rosters on a lot of teams, and this will help them pull out some wins at Nationals.
-Led by Mark Trippiedi, Dylan Fettig, and Kenny Bacchus
-Biggest Win: Saginaw Valley (x2)
-Strength: Teamwork. The Lakers are a well oiled machine, and they have great team throws, blocking, and coverage for their players.
-Weakness: Transition defense. The Lakers can be picked off in transition, but they make up for this weakness by having good transition offense.
-Impact Player: Kevin Bailey (GVSU #4). The hero of the game of the year vs Michigan State, Kevin has routinely come up clutch this season for Grand Valley.
-X-Factor: Catching. If players like Kyle Peltier (GVSU #19) and Kenny Bacchus (GVSU #32-A) can make big plays catching the ball, this team is nearly unbeatable.
-Biggest Win: Michigan State
-Led by Chris Hess, Ben Sizemore, and Taylor Wilhelm
-Strength: Energy. The Dukes carry themselves well, and their swagger gives them the confidence to go toe to toe with anybody.
-Weakness: Accuracy. JMU over the past two years has had hard throws, but they haven’t always found their target. Sometime this works to their advantage, other times it doesn’t.
-Impact Player: Andrew Hassett (JMU #35). One of the Dukes hardest throwers, he can be a game changer with his ability.
-X-Factor: Court control. The Dukes do a good job of staying on the opposing neutral zone line and keeping the other team on their back line.
-Led by Dan Shackelford and Camden Fullmer
-Biggest Win: Saginaw Valley
-Strength: Throwing. One of the fastest throwing teams in the league when they’re on, Kent has a group of solid power arms that can blast anyone.
-Weakness: First point. Kent has a hard time with the first point, and need to get woken up before they really get going.
-Impact Player: Billy Cameron (Kent #3.14). One of the best blockers in the NCDA, Billy can lock down a side of the court and cover for some of the more offensive oriented players.
-X-Factor: Blocking. Kent relies on blocking specific players more than any other team in the league, so keeping their blockers in play and out of the out line is crucial.
-Led by Zac Brown, Thomas Kidd, and Dakota Taylor
-Biggest Win: Kent State (x3)
-Strength: Structure. They play very organized and do what they do well.
-Weakness: Needing ball control. Without ball control, UK is hurt more than a lot of teams in the league.
-Impact Player:Jacob Hughes (UK #8). Hughes is another power arm, and they’ll need him to complement Wes Hopkins (U #1) if they want to make a deep run.
-X-Factor: Home court advantage. Will the Wildcat faithful come out to support their title contender? Saginaw Valley, Grand Valley, and Ohio State have all won championships on their home turf, UK is looking to join them.
-Led by Chris Via, Alex Gisselbeck, and Colin Humphreys
-Strength: Throwing. UMD has some power arms, and when they work in tandem they can be a great squad.
-Weakness: Leadership. Outside of Chris Via (UMD #23-C) and Dylan Allred (UMD #11), the Terps don’t really have a vocal leader to help them on the court.
-Impact Player: Alex Gisselbeck (UMD #8). Has a cannon arm, and his throwing is a big part of Maryland’s gameplan.
-X-Factor: Tyler Wieland (UMD #88). Garnering comparisons to Kyle Fitzpatrick (former Kent #72-C), he has a wiry frame but he has a good throw and can pick you off when you’re least expecting it.
-Led by Sam Clark
-Biggest Win: Towson
-Strength: Countering. Miami has the ability to attack quickly from the baseline, making up for their weaker power throws.
-Weakness: Throwing. They’re weak on power throwers, which makes their countering even more important.
-Impact Player: Jon Puckett (MU #7). Jon has the most talent of anyone on their roster, and they’ll need him to make a run.
-X-Factor: Energy. If the Redhawks aren’t active in transition, they’re going to throw a lot of catches and not throw out opposing players very easily.
-Led by Sam Hiller, Kevin Miller, and Zach Bauer
-Biggest Win: Kent State (x2)
-Strength: Catching. The Spartans are loaded with catchers, and they aren’t afraid of anyone.
-Weakness: Energy. MSU has a hard time playing a full 50 minutes, and they usually start out slow.
-Impact Player: Alex Acton (MSU #72). Coming back from an injury that kept him out of the MDC, Acton is a do it all player who can lead State to victory.
-X-Factor: Health. With 7 of their top 20 battling injuries, the Spartans need to heal up fast in order to make a run at their first title.
-Led by Jake Ochoa, Jeremy Schambach, and Brennan Phelan
-Big Win: DePaul
-Strength: Power Arms. MAD has a few power arms in their stable, and they can carry them to a win.
-Weakness: Inexperience. Moody doesn’t get to travel outside of Nationals, but they desperately need tournament experience.
-Impact Player: Ryan Pattison (MAD #10). Made the All-NCDA team last year, and made an immediate impact on the CDO when he played.
-X-Factor: Jake Ochoa (MAD #3-C). He can make plays defensively, especially catching the ball, that could make a big change on the game.
-Led by Matt Gonzalez and Caleb Klatt
-Big Win: N/A
-Strength: Crosses. Nebraska has some good crossers who can sneak throws up on you.
-Weakness: Depth. Nebraska had less than 15 at their only tournament this year, and they could be in a similar predicament at Nationals.
-Impact Player: Matt Gonzalez (Nebraska #46-C). Matt can catch pretty well and is accurate with his throws.
-X-Factor: Development. If Nebraska has grown since the CDO, they could be a good team. If not, they could be in a little trouble.
-Led by Chad Krohn
-Biggest Win: Miami
-Strength: Catching. RIT is a solid catching team, able to bring in their players in the outline back quickly if they get the chance.
-Weakness: Teamwork. A team who hasn’t played many games, they struggle with cohesion and playing together.
-Impact Player: Stephen Bauman (RIT #9). If RIT is going to win, he’ll need to play well. He’s a solid player who stands out amongst his peers.
-X-Factor: Sneakiness. The Tigers have some players who can wrap around players and throw in some hidden throws when the opposition isn’t ready for them.
-Led by Jude DuPart and Ryan Carlton
-Biggest Win: Kent State
-Strength: Defense. OSU has always been a great catching and blocking team, and this team is no different.
-Weakness: Inconsistency. The Buckeyes have played very streaky, but not in a good way.You can never know what OSU team is going to show up.
-Impact Player: Chris Stringer (OSU #34). Easily the best offensive weapon they have, he has one of the strongest arms in the league.
-X-Factor: Pace. If OSU can force their tempo on the opposition, and keep the games lower scoring, they can win.
-Led by Max Siler, Torrie Peplinski, Zach Phelps, and Mike Sharp
-Biggest Win: Grand Valley
-Strength: Top 10 players. The Cardinals top 10 match up well with anyone in the country. Their top six is overtime tested and they can win close games.
-Weakness: Depth. SV’s depth isn’t as strong as it was last year, when SVSU won the National Title.
-Impact Player: Spencer Jardine (SVSU #77). As Jardine goes, so go the Cards. A lot is said of his great play, but his energy and leadership are huge for this young team.
-X-Factor: Experience. SVSU is coming off a year when they won the National Championship, and have played in many close games. They won’t be scared when it comes to clutch time.
-Led by Jonathan Shaw, Katie Polacheck, and Sean Smith
-Biggest Win: Maryland
-Strength: Counter Attack. The speedy Tigers have a great transition game and can eliminate opposing players while they’re backpedaling.
-Weakness: Catching. Outside of Shanice Parran (TU #9), Towson is limited in their catching abilities.
-Impact Player: Joe Tobin (TU #5). He has a rocket arm and his hits really get the Tigers rolling.
-X-Factor: Jordan Haxton (TU #3). Haxton’s blocking ability will be needed to protect the Towson power arms in the tournament.
-Led by Alex Sorrels and Johnny Thacker
-Biggest Win: Saginaw Valley
-Strength: Passion. WKU has some of the best passion in the league, and this helps them get a huge start to games.
-Weakness: Communication. They have a hard time talking on the court, which is one of the biggest facets of the game.
-Impact Player: Felix Perrone (WKU #76-A). Similar to Spencer Jardine at SVSU, Felix is the heart and soul of this Toppers team, and he is one of the best dodgeballers in the league.
-X-Factor: Adaptability. Alex Sorrel’s Hilltoppers can play any game style, whether its fast or slow, ball control or free flowing. If they don’t get a chance to impose their will on the game, this gives them a chance to compete with anyone.
Sean Smith (TU #19-C), Zac Brown (UK #13-C), Felix Perrone (WKU #76-A), MIke Van Ermen (MSU #6), and Dan Shackelford (Kent #33-C) contributed to this article.