The oldest tournament in the NCDA is also the best regular season tournament in the league, and the Michigan Dodgeball Cup will once again take place in East Lansing as the #4 Spartans host #5 GVSU, #6 SVSU, and #9 CMU in the toughest collegiate dodgeball tournament during the regular season.
The teams playing in this tournament are loaded with history. You have a former MDC champion and NCDA founding member Michigan State, the most successful team in the NCDA (4 National Championships, 5 MDC titles) in Grand Valley, a MDC championship that ended the Lakers perfect streak along with a National Championship in Central Michigan, and the defending Michigan and National Champions Saginaw Valley.
The schools have combined for six straight National Championships, a whopping 32 trophies, won the Michigan vs the World All-Star game at Nationals 2011, and have had at least two teams in the National Semi-Finals the last four seasons. They’ve had some of the best players, the best teams, and they’ve won the most games, which makes this tournament historic.
You would think that with the rivalries built up between these teams, the will to win, and the talent spread across these teams that there would be some split titles, or a team getting a loss but still winning the title. This has not been the case, as the winner of the MDC has been undefeated at each tournament. Some former teams have attended the MDC that no longer compete, such as LCC, EMU, Delta College, and Oakland, but the MDC truly belongs to the Big Four schools: CMU, GVSU, MSU, and SVSU.
MSU is the highest ranked team, but they are probably not the favorites. They’ve lost two of their best players to injury, Alex Acton (MSU #72) due to a broken hand, and Eric Paul (MSU #9) to a broken toe. The Spartans came off a disappointing result at the Chicago Dodgeball Open in which they went 2-1, but lost yet again to James Madison. More troubling than the loss to James Madison was the fact that they only brought 14 players, and were down some eight varsity players. Michigan State can win if they play like they did at Grand Valley in December, when they lost 3-2 in overtime in a thrilling finish. State doesn’t need to do anything special to win, they just need to play their game. If the team plays to their ability then they have what it takes to win their first title since 2005. Watch for Mike Van Ermen (MSU #6) and Andy Lieblich (MSU #20) to pick up the load for Paul and Acton.
GVSU is probably the favorite for the tournament, as they have been every year they’ve competed, but they’re not invincible. The Lakers lost Josh Stevenson (GVSU #13) to graduation, and they too had a lighter roster at the Chicago Dodgeball Open than usual. They’ve beaten the three other Michigan schools already this season, but they barely escaped a loss to the Spartans at home and lost at SVSU. With the most talented roster in the group however, they can win this tournament if they play their best. Captains Mark Trippiedi (GVSU #8-C), Dylan Fettig (GVSU #24-A), and Kenny Bacchus (GVSU #32-A) will need to play their best while leading the team to victory, which is harder than it sounds. GVSU has the most power arms of the teams attending the tournament, but they can also play defense and catch as well, making them the most well-rounded team.
SVSU will be coming with some confidence, the defending champs won their last game against the Lakers (2-1 in Saginaw) and have one of the best players in the league in Spencer Jardine (SVSU #77). However, it’s more than having the best players, its about having the best team, so we’ll see if “As One” can hold up the pressure of the MDC. The shorthanded Cardinals got rocked in Columbus by State (5-0) so they’ll want payback for that, and their rivalries with CMU and GVSU are fierce. SVSU will be lighter on the throwing side than in years past, so they’ll have to rely on teamwork and defense to win the Cup this year. Watch for Torrie Peplinksi (SVSU #13-A), Mike Souilliere (SVSU #22), and Zach Phelps (SVSU #2-A) to help Jardine produce some outs.
CMU will need to have a full roster this time around if they expect to win the MDC, as they’ve been shorthanded in both tournaments so far this season, which has led to the Chips taking some tough beatings (7-1 vs GVSU, 8-1 at MSU). They have the best catching lineup in the field, and possibly the best player (if healthy) in Bryce Corrion (CMU #00-A), so if they have even 15 players they could be a threat to the title. Wes Peters (CMU #27-C), Brett Hadwin (CMU #4-A), and Corrion can all catch anything, and all three can pick people off on the court offensively as well. It just comes down to if the rest of their team can play well, and if they’ve improved since the Fall. If they can, then watch out. If not, then they still have a chance to get an upset or two in but a title could be out of reach.