East Coast Nationals Preview

The East Coast had a strong showing this year and will look to make a splash at Nationals. Since each East Coast team played a schedule filled with mostly other East Coast teams, we got a lucky draw with only one inter-East matchup on Saturday. However, it’s not all good news for the East when it comes to Nationals. JMU, UVA, and WVU will not be making the trip, which is a huge blow to the East Coast and league in general. Anyways, here’s the preview for the Towson, VCU, PSU, and UMD for Nationals 2019.

Towson

Saturday Opponents: Kentucky, Saginaw Valley State, Bowling Green State

So far this season, Towson has put themselves in great position to be prepared for a deep run at Nationals. They played a ton of games against some of the toughest teams in the league. They played what felt like a million games against JMU, got one in against Michigan State, one with Miami, and even two games with Grand Valley. Although they suffered a total of four losses against these teams, these were the only four losses they took all year, with two of these coming in overtime. In all, this tough, busy schedule will only prove to set up Towson well for Sunday’s marathon.

Some have voiced their concerns about Towson’s inability to play well with back nets, but I’m not worried about this. They have quite a few guys that do it all, they aren’t just the one dimensional team that they’re made out to be. I’m sure that there will be an adjustment period in dealing with the nets, but the Kentucky game will provide the Tigers with just that. Next will come a tough matchup against Saginaw, followed by another grudge match with Bowling Green. Towson has a pretty tough schedule, but hopefully they won’t tire themselves out too much as they shoot for a championship. Overall, I’m expecting Towson to come out with a 3-0 showing to keep the two seed for Sunday.

Virginia Commonwealth

Saturday Opponents: Kent State, Penn State, Central Michigan

This is both my favorite and least favorite team to play. They’re my favorite because the games are always close and competitive. They’re my least favorite because we can never come out on top. Up to this point, VCU has had a successful year. They didn’t drop a single game to Maryland or Virginia and went 2-1 at Akron’s WAR. In all honesty, I don’t even think that loss at WAR to Ohio was very representative of the talent that VCU has. They’re absolutely a top 10 team and have proved that all year long.

My only concern with VCU is that they are travelling to Nationals short handed. This doesn’t bode well for any team, so we’ll just have to wait and see how they handle the tough situation. They also might have the most brutal Saturday schedule of all the East Coast teams, so we’ll see how they match up. Kent State will be looking for revenge after suffering an overtime loss to VCU at WAR. Penn State will have their first game against VCU all year and these two teams have two completely different playstyles. If VCU can slow the game down, they stand a good chance, regardless of roster depth. Lastly, CMU will be a tough task, but hopefully VCU will finish the day with enough in the tank to compete on Sunday. If all goes well, I could see VCU ending Saturday with a 2-1 record, but only time will tell if that plays out.

Penn State

Saturday Opponents: North Georgia, Virginia Commonwealth, Grand Valley

Penn State is a team that I’ve only gotten to see once this year, mainly because they haven’t taken any trips south into the heart of the East Coast. However, they’ve been busy travelling around and playing a multitude of different teams. If you were to ask anybody from the Penn State team, they would probably tell you that the beginning of the year was a bit of a disappointment. With that being said, they turned their season around big time with a huge 4-0 showing at West Virginia a couple weekends ago. Hopefully they’ll be able to carry that momentum into Nationals.

The quick playstyle of Penn State could be a great thing or a horrible thing for them, depending on the opponent. From what I’ve seen from them lately, it’ll be great. They’ll also have plenty of subs this weekend and will be able to stay fresh for each of their Saturday games as well as Sunday. Their first matchup is against UNG, which we’ve been waiting for since their mutual request that never happened last Nationals. Then they play VCU and Grand Valley to end the day. I think we’ll be looking at a 2-1 showing for Penn State if they can dictate the pace of play against VCU and use their roster depth to their advantage.

Maryland

Saturday Opponents: Ohio State, DePaul, Ohio

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, Maryland is the most underrated team in the league. On their best days, they look like a top 10 team. They have great leadership and they’re always organized, game in and game out. Bobby Burton and Shawn Sullivan are a ton of fun to watch, just not a ton of fun to play against. They only had one win during the fall semester, but turned it around in the spring, getting wins over UVA, OSU, WVU, and holding a close game against JMU. This team doesn’t have the experience outside of the East that the other schools do, but with how competitive the East is, that won’t matter one bit.

Maryland’s Saturday schedule isn’t quite as difficult as Towson’s or VCU’s, but they shouldn’t sleep on any of their opponents. As I said before, they took a game over OSU a couple of weeks ago, but teams always play their best dodgeball at Nationals. They should be able to handle their game against DePaul, and Ohio is a matchup I’m really looking forward to. Ohio has some impressive wins on the season to this point, but I absolutely think that Maryland has the pieces in place to pull off the mini-upset. UMD absolutely has a chance to go 3-0 on Saturday and I’d absolutely love to see that happen.

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