The annual MSU Invite will take place this Sunday, Nov. 2nd at IM Sports West on Michigan State University’s campus. There will be a bit of a different flavor at this year’s event with two uncommon attendees making an appearance. Central Michigan and Grand Valley State will join host school Michigan State to give the MSU Invite three Michigan teams in attendance along with Western Kentucky, and DePaul.
An event known to have majority non-Michigan teams in attendance, the MSU Invite will give three Michigan teams the chance to compete thanks to MSU captain Colin O’Brien’s belief that several Michigan Teams participating in this event will only help the competition level. Here is my preview of what is turning into a very intriguing tournament.
Most Anticipated Games:
1. MSU vs. CMU
This game is the most anticipated match-up in my mind for a few reasons. First off, teams have both earned a win against the other at some point this season (MSU leads the season series 2-1). Though MSU won the first two matches in a fairly close manner, CMU stormed their way to a 3-0 victory against the Spartans in the most recent meeting between the two Michigan schools; so that is one interesting story line to follow.
One other point I’d like to bring up is that in both the GVSU Podcast and the Podcast recently recorded by Towson and Maryland, the opinion of most people involved was that MSU and CMU are battling it out for the position as the second best team in the Michigan region (I’m going to stick with what I said at the start of the year that SVSU will finish #2 in Michigan but that’s beside the point).
At this point in the season MSU and CMU have earned the right to boast themselves as one of the best teams in Michigan, and I think the winner of this match will most likely be considered the #2 Michigan team. Basically a lot of bragging rights will be on the line when this match takes place on Sunday.
2. WKU vs. DePaul
I know what you’re thinking… “neither of these teams is at the same level as the Michigan teams, how can this be an anticipated game?”, but hear me out. WKU is coming off an impressive win over Kentucky, while DePaul enters the season with some legitimate talent on their roster and the potential to be a tough team to beat if they play serious fro 50 minutes. Yes, this game is between arguably the two weakest teams at this tourney, but I am still interested in seeing how they stack up with each other. Both squads will be looking to get experience for their teams at this tournament and with all their other matches coming against far more talented Michigan teams, this is likely the only shot for either WKU or DePaul to get a victory.
3. MSU vs. GVSU & CMU vs. GVSU
I put these two games in the same category because I could talk all day about these match-ups, but I’m hoping to keep this brief. So far this year CMU has been the only team to force overtime against #1 ranked Grand Valley State, but don’t forget that MSU has come close to pulling the upset on a few occasions as well. There is no arguing that these two teams have had the best upset bids to this point in the season as everyone in the NCDA tries to stop the well-oiled machine that is GVSU Dodgeball.
There may be a little bit of bias in my opinion, but I don’t expect either CMU or MSU to take down the Lakers this weekend, but nonetheless, it will be very interesting to see how both of these games go down. Keep in mind Central Michigan took a point on GVSU last weekend to hold the lead on the Lakers at halftime before falling 3-1. Don’t forget too that the Spartans had a distinct man advantage with about 10 minutes left in a 1-1 game before the Lakers climbed back from the deficit to take the point and get a 2-1 win the last time GVSU played MSU.
Players to Watch:
I’ll keep this list short with the risk of offending a lot of people, but I’ll give one player from each team (not necessarily the best player) that I think will have a good tournament this weekend at MSU.
GVSU- Dylan Fettig
Sure, I admit I’m not naming any younger, unknown players for GVSU because I don’t want you all to know who our well-kept secrets are, but Dylan is pretty deserving of this recognition. Last weekend in the CMU game, no disrespect the Chippewas, but the way Dylan was throwing the ball, I think he could have eliminated their entire team by himself (I’m not even exaggerating that much here…). At MSU I expect him to keep the momentum going from that strong performance to help lead the Lakers in their four match-ups.
MSU- Noe Galaviz
Noe has been one of the top players for the Spartans so far this year and I don’t expect that to change this weekend. He has developed into one of the best transition players in the NCDA which will be crucial to MSU’s game plan especially in their big games against CMU and GVSU. Look for Noe to have another standout day both throwing and catching the ball.
CMU- Brett Hadwin
I feel a bit guilty for not pointing out Brett’s strong performances at a few earlier tournaments this year, but let me make it clear that he is still one of the best (and most exciting) players in the league. Brett’s throw will be counted on quite a bit this weekend since CMU is largely a “catching team”. Last weekend at BGSU I thought I witnessed him end a Kent State player’s life with a head shot during the first half of that game. Hopefully, we see a few more highlight-reel plays like that this weekend, especially with MSU’s “Impact Sports” camera crew in attendance!
WKU- Nick Johnson
Nick is the captain for WKU and arguably their most well know player now that Felix Perrone is no longer on the Hilltopper’s roster. If Nick can continue to catch for WKU like he has the last few games it will give them at least a shot at keeping it close with the powerhouse Michigan teams, while it may be a deciding factor in who wins their battle with DePaul.
DePaul- Niko Nodal
Niko, as I’ve said before, is one of the most overlooked players in the NCDA. He is a standout player in both “Elite Dodgeball” and in the NCDA. If Niko makes the trip to East Lansing, Mich. with DePaul this weekend, it will be a huge boost for them.