Gauntlet Tournament Preview

This Sunday, a handful of historically strong college dodgeball teams will congregate at GVSU Fieldhouse Arena on the campus of Grand Valley State University for the ‘Gauntlet’ dodgeball tournament.  As has become the norm, GVSU will be hosting a fall tournament that will provide much more clarity to where each Michigan school stands at this point in the year, because all four Michigan teams will be in attendance.  Along with these four squads from the state of Michigan, we also will see Kent State University in the building on Sunday.  Before I get into my preview, the schedule for this weekend’s clash in Allendale, Michigan is listed below:

Main Court East Court West Court Ref
11:15 GVSU v Kent CMU v MSU SVSU
12:30 GVSU v CMU SVSU v Kent Comb-JV v GV-JV MSU
1:45 CMU v SVSU Kent v MSU GVSU
3:00 GVSU v SVSU GV-JV v MSU CMU

Interesting note: this tournament features the teams ranked 1,2,5,7, and 8 in the current National Collegiate Dodgeball Association standings.  It is difficult to pinpoint one specific game as the biggest storyline to follow at this event.  The fact of the matter is, there are too may big games on the docket for the Gauntlet for me to narrow it down to just one or two.


Round 1

In the first round of games, scheduled for 11:15 a.m., Grand Valley will clash with Kent State in what I predict will be a one-sided affair.  While that game will be taking place on GVSU’s main court, Central Michigan will meet up with Michigan State on the East Court for the first matchup between the two schools this year.  I would argue that this round of matches will produce the least excitement of any round that day.  GVSU should handle Kent with ease, while CMU will be heavily favored in their match against MSU.  With all of that said, if either Kent or MSU is able to pull an upset, it would be a heck of a way to kick off the day.


Round 2

The 12:30 p.m. round of Gauntlet will see GVSU take on CMU in their second duel this season.  That game will rightfully be taking place on the main court at the GVSU Arena.  While I placed CMU #1 in my October Power Rankings, I think GVSU will take this game, and earn that #1 spot on the power rankings back from the Chippewas.  Grand Valley has had some time to break in their new players, and I doubt their top level players will fall flat for a second straight game against Central.  CMU looks like a very solid team this year, with Baller of the Month Mike Riley leading the way, but I think GVSU’s star players will play to their potential in this matchup, and even the season series at one apiece between GVSU and CMU.

The other match taking place this round will be SVSU against Kent State.  A very reliable source tells me SVSU will unfortunately be down a few key players, including Cody Putnam for this tournament.  That will end up hurting them later in the day, but I fully expect they will be able to get by Kent State unscathed.


Round 3

The round scheduled to begin at 1:45 p.m. this Sunday includes a few very intriguing matchups.  On the main court, we will get to see a rematch from the championship game that took place a few weeks ago at Michigan State’s season opening tournament.  Yes, SVSU and CMU will clash for a second time this year.  I predict a win for the Chippewas.  SVSU’s young players should benefit greatly from the experience they get this weekend, especially in their game against Central.

Speaking of young players, pan the camera over to the East Court and we will see Kent State facing off with Michigan State this round.  This should be a very interesting test for Michigan State’s young but talented group.  As we know, MSU lost by a few points to BGSU earlier this year, and BGSU then beat Kent by the narrowest of margin.  Based on those results, we should expect Kent State to come away with a W in this game, but weighing in a few more factors makes me think this could go either way.  MSU has had a few weeks to break in all their new starters  They should be much more equipped to compete now than they were at tournament #1.  Also, Kent will need to travel a much farther distance to this tournament, so I speculate their roster will be a bit thinner than usual, while MSU’s one-hour drive to Allendale should keep their roster close to full.  As a fan, I really hope this one goes into overtime.  If it does, I give the edge to Kent State because their top level players are a bit higher caliber than MSU’s OT 6 will be.  With that said, I have a strange feeling that MSU could pull this one out in regulation by a very narrow margin.


Round 4

The fourth round is scheduled to begin at 4:00 p.m. and will feature one of College Dodgeball’s most historic rivalries.  No, I’m not referring to MSU vs. GVSU’s JV, that game will be on the East Court.  The rivalry I am referring to is GVSU vs. SVSU.  The first battle between these two schools will take place on Sunday afternoon.  I think GVSU will use their home court advantage to their benefit, as their full roster of players will be on different level than SVSU’s group.  Grand Valley’s 7-12 players are a bit more experienced and skilled than SVSU’s 7-12 at this point in the season, so for that reason, I give the edge to GV.


Predictions

My full predictions for the weekend are below, and Zigmas Maloni includes a few little tidbits based on the Gonzalez exchanges for Grand Valley Gauntlet V.

Starting Gonzalez Ratings
GVSU – 53.321+1
CMU – 53.197
SVSU – 48.823
MSU – 45.698
Kent – 44.823

Round 1

GVSU def. Kent 4-1

ZM: In order to beat Grand Valley, you must play Grand Valley. Even if you don’t win, you get valuable experience playing a top tier team and very often the match won’t hurt you because their rating is so high. This match has the largest rating gap of the day, with GV 9.498 points over Kent with a +1 home court advantage. A Kent victory would make for the 2nd biggest technical upset in the statistically significant 99th percentile.

CMU def. MSU 4-0

ZM: MSU started the season with 48.622 has lost 2.924 over three games, which is above average. Their match with strongly rated CMU won’t hurt them as much, with only .250 on the line for a Rating Exchange. A State upset would rank #9 of 244 technical upsets, in the 96th percentile.

Round 2

GVSU def. CMU 3-2

ZM: At this point, with no upsets or overtimes in Round 1, CMU will have the #1 rating going into this highlight match of the day, with their projected win over MSU worth more than GVSU defeating Kent. But GVSU will have a +1 to home court advantage, giving them the slight favor to win .908 over Central as predicted, or lose 1.092 to Central in a technical upset. A CMU upset will only rank 190 of 244 in the 19th percentile.

SVSU def. Kent 3-1

ZM: A top vs bottom matchup of a similar tier. This is a good test for Kent as the stakes are in the Goldilocks zone; it is a reachable upset for Kent in taking 1.405 from #3 Saginaw, but losing 0.595 won’t hurt them too much. The same could be said for SVSU, which has a chance to gain some points in their quest to break into the top tier. The easiest way to do that would be to upset CMU or GV, but chomping half a point regularly keeps the team fighting fit, gains experience, and closes the Rating gap. A technical upset by Kent would rank #66 and fall in the 72nd percentile.

Round 3

CMU def. SVSU 4-2

ZM: This match does rely on the previous results by both Central and Saginaw winning their games. If the previous rounds fall as predicted, we’ll be looking at a close match, only 3.121 between ratings, with CMU favored. A technical upset by SVSU could be #87 in the 63 percentile. If Central upsets their close match with GV, SVSU would be facing a tougher opponent and looking at a 85th percentile upset. If SV lost to Kent, they would be looking at another 85th percentile upset when they meet Central.

MSU def Kent 4-3

ZM: This will likely be the second closest rating gap of the day, though the likelihood of a schedule playing out as predicted gets smaller as the day goes on. This match favors MSU slightly, with an upset falling in the 29th percentile and makes for an opportunity for Kent to grab a solid boost to their rating. Other intangibles will certainly play a part, like a traveling Kent squad playing on their 3rd game versus MSU on a closer drive and only two games.

Round 4

GVSU def. SVSU 3-1

ZM: This is a great game to cap off the day, but one of the perks of being #1 ranked team is that you are always predicted to win out on the day. What’s better than doing that at home? If the schedule plays as predicted (and there is a low chance it will by this point, given a 4 in 5 success rate), SVSU is looking at the #15 technical upset in the significant 93rd percentile. Taking out GV would garner a significant rating exchange.

MSU def. GVSU JV 3-1

ZM: This strikes me a little bit of a tradition at least. GV-JV is arguably one of the most successful Second teams in the NCDA with a history going back to Grand Valley’s induction year. It’ll be valuable experience for both GV’s younger players, and MSU still gets to play Grand Valley student athletes. It’s a good opportunity if you can get it.

Author: Kevin Bailey

Current NCDA Chief of Content.

Former Captain for Grand Valley State University (#4).

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