No Fear Invitational Preview

This Saturday, Ohio University will host the largest regular season tournament in collegiate dodgeball history with 19 schools in attendance. This one-day event, dubbed by some as ‘Fall Nationals’, will include some epic matchups as we near the end of the fall semester in the NCDA. From the top teams in the rankings, to some of the newest schools in the NCDA, the ‘No Fear Invitational’ will have it all. Check out our preview of the event below, and don’t forget: Court 3 will be livestream on Facebook:

Schedule:


5 Bold Takes from Cincinnati Coach Wes Peters:

GVSU vs. Towson goes to OT. 

Let’s start off relatively tame with the first bold prediction and work our way upward. This will be the first rematch of last year’s National Championship match, where Towson finally dethroned 6-time defending National Champion GVSU. I expect this one to be an incredibly close match, as both teams have played a good amount of matches to this point in the season, and have had the opportunity to develop their newer players a bit. It’ll be interesting to see which way this one goes. Could we be witnessing the birth of a new “dynasty” with a second consecutive victory for Towson over Grand Valley – Or will GV be able to show that Towson’s run last April was a flash in the pan? Everyone’s eyes ought to be glued to this match either way.  

CMU will go 1-2 on the day. 

CMU is scheduled to play JMU, Ohio, and UC Saturday. As a former Captain/President of CMU it really pains me to say this, but I don’t like how they’ve looked so far at all this year. Granted, I’ve only witnessed them play in the tiniest of gyms at Miami a few weeks ago, but they looked absolutely dreadful against Miami and struggled quite a bit against BGSU – And those aren’t exactly two cohesive teams offensively. 

While there is definitely the possibility CMU has taken the lessons they learned from the Redhawk Invite and will come out a stronger, more disciplined team this weekend, I’m not sure that I see it happening. JMU has always been an overwhelming offensive team with their immense arm strength and typically like to throw only one ball at a time. Likewise, Ohio is about as disciplined of a team as I’ve seen outside of GVSU in a long time. If CMU finds themselves unable to stay composed and maintain ball control against these teams, or at least a 50/50 share of it, it’s a wrap for them. I hope I’m wrong, Fire Up. 

There will be a minimum of 6 OT games Saturday.  

Credit to Kevin Bailey on this one, as we had a brief discussion about how many OT matches there could be this weekend. Anyway, this season has been as unpredictable as any that I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing to this point, and I expect that to continue. 6 OT games Saturday averages out to roughly 1 OT match per round, so I don’t think that’s unreasonable to expect. Here’s a quick guess at which matches specifically I believe could be heading for extra time:

CSU/WVU, OSU/SVSU, Towson/Ohio, JMU/CMU, Ohio/CMU, UVA/CSU, UVA/Akron, GVSU/Towson.

There’s always bound to be some surprises, but I think we’re in for a lot of close games this weekend.  

Ohio University will go 3-0 this weekend.

I’m sure Towson and CMU will have a lot to say about this one, but, in accordance to #2 on this list, I think OU runs the table Saturday. They’ve got the arms to go toe-to-toe with any team in the league, and protect each other nearly as well as SVSU used to back in the dirty-blocking days (RIP & good riddance). 

The East Coast will finish with a higher winning percentage on the day than the state of Michigan.

Now listen, I’m a state of Michigan man, through and through. However, given the teams in attendance and the schedule as it is, Michigan teams have an uphill battle. It is an absolute requirement for GVSU to go 3-0 if they want to give the state of Michigan a chance to finish with a higher W/L % than Towson, JMU, UVA, & WVU. 

There’s a good chance JMU & UVA both go 3-0 on the day, and WVU may finish 2-1. Towson is the big question mark here, with matches against Ohio, GVSU, and Akron, they could certainly go 3-0, or they could end up 1-2. 

On the other side of things, GVSU plays Miami, Towson, and OSU. That’s a tough schedule, but they are perceived to be the top team in attendance (and, well, they’re GVSU), so 3-0 is always the expectation for them. CMU & SVSU, however, I believe could both very well end up 1-2 on the day. As mentioned earlier, CMU will face JMU, Ohio, and UC. SVSU doesn’t have a much easier schedule, drawing OSU, Miami, and UK. 

Overall, I believe the East Coast finishes 9-3 (.750) and Michigan goes 6-3 (.667).


Bold Predictions from Colby Briceland

SVSU will go 0-3

Saginaw isn’t a bad team, that’s not what I’m saying here. But pound for pound with how they’ve competed this season, they have the most challenge here, and the highest chance of leaving Athens with a goose egg in the win column. Miami and OSU have played very well thus far in the season, and UK competed very well in their last outing. So we’ll see how this goes.

The Ohio Region walks out with the best record 

This may Piggy-back off of Wes’ predictions, but looking at the schedule, the Ohio region has the best potential to come out on top of their non-region opponents. The schedule is very well made, with many encounters that we haven’t seen yet, or could possibly not see again until Nationals. And the Ohio region is slowly creeping up as being one of the better regions this season. O-H

JMU dominates their opponents by a score of at least 3 in each match

JMU hasn’t seen competition outside of the east coast yet, but what we have seen so far are impressive showings from the Dukes. The pure athleticism of this team will carry them through many dominant points this tournament, and if they can keep a semi-structured playstyle, they should leave with no close matches.


15 Most Intriguing Matchups:

1) Towson vs. GVSU

It’s #1 vs. #2. A rematch of last year’s National Title Game (an all-time classic by the way. If you haven’t watched that game broadcast, you can find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqKQy_m7S-g). This game is a pretty easy pick to top the list of most intriguing matchups at the No Fear Invitational. Grand Valley is again a top team, sitting at 6-0 on the year, with only 2 points surrendered all year. Towson, on the other hand, is coming off a National Title, and only has one blemish on their resume (an OT loss to East Coast powerhouse JMU). Since that loss Towson has gone on a solid win streak, and looks like an obvious title contender at this point in the season. Don’t be surprised when this is one of the best games all day. Two heavyweights going at it for the first time this season (hopefully not the last). Winner of this game likely heads into the Midseason Break at #1 in both the Gonzalez Standings and the Power Rankings.

All Time: GVSU 8-1
Last Time: Towson def GVSU 3-2

2) JMU vs. CMU

These two schools have played in a few classics over the years, and we think there’s a chance the No Fear Invitational will see another one. Central Michigan has underperformed so far this season when you look at their record and a few of their losses. With that said, they are still a talented team that showed last season (and vs. MSU to start the year) they can be an absolute force when things are clicking. James Madison is in a similar boat. A team used to being at or near the top of the rankings, they haven’t had their typical dominant season at this point. A big win over Towson to start the year was a nice notch in their belt, but since then, JMU doesn’t really have a notable win, not to mention their blown lead against VCU a few weeks ago. Bottom line, this game will be a huge momentum boost for one of these teams’ seasons. Either CMU or JMU will come away from this game looking like they are a Final Four team and potential National Title contender. Don’t be surprised to see this one go down to the wire.

All Time: CMU 6-2
Last Time: JMU def CMU 4-1

3) Towson vs. Ohio

Best team on the East Coast against the best team in Ohio. The Bobcats are undefeated on the season, while Towson has just one OT loss to JMU (which they followed up with a revenge victory). Talk around the league is that Ohio is a legit contender. A smart, strategic team that is built to win. The Tigers though are quickly picking up steam, and remain one of the top throwing teams in the sport. This will be quite the showdown. If Ohio can come away victorious it would be the biggest win in program history.

Shadeed’s section: 2nd matchup of the day and this is going a battle because two different styles: the methodical, strategic pace of Ohio that emphasize heavily on teamwork vs the aggressive, court dominant style of Towson that emphasize ball control and continuous pressure. The Tigers are viewed as heavy favorites in this matchup but if Ohio can make adjustments on the court in a timely manner, this game could go down the wire. 

All Time: Towson 3-0
Last Time: Towson def Ohio 6-1

4) SVSU vs. Miami

In case you missed it, Saginaw Valley State pulled off an overtime win against Miami a few weeks ago at the RedHawk Invite. The best win all year for the Cardinals. Miami looked like a completely different team after that game, with blowout wins over Central Michigan and Akron later that day. If the RedHawks can bring their A-game they should hold the upperhand in this rematch, but SVSU will not go easily. Saginaw might not be getting the respect they deserve nationally, but a second win over Miami in a matter of weeks would sway some opinions.

All Time: SVSU 8-0
Last Time: SVSU def Miami 3-2

5) SVSU vs. OSU

SVSU has the ability to beat good teams (as mentioned above. And let’s not forget this OSU team is much improved this season, with only one loss thus far (in OT against Miami). We have a feeling this is a back and forth contest that ends in overtime. 

All Time: SVSU 7-1
Last Time: SVSU def OSU 6-1

6) Ohio vs. CMU

Ohio has put together an undefeated season so far this year, but do they have the talent to stack up against the Michigan schools? Central might not be #1 in the country, but nonetheless this will be a test for Ohio. Expect the Chippewas to be much more competitive than they were at the RedHawk Invite where they went 1-2. A convincing win over CMU will solidify Ohio as one of the teams with the best shot to make the Final Four in April. On the other side, a win by CMU over Ohio would prove that they have put their sloppy start to the season behind them, and that they should be considered a contender.

All Time: CMU 4-0
Last Time: CMU def Ohio 4-1

7) GVSU vs. Miami

Two Final Four-level teams who have not yet met this year will finally match up this weekend. Grand Valley is the top team in the country according to the latest Power Rankings, and will be favored to win this game, but it will be very interesting to see how the RedHawks stack up against the Lakers. Miami has been up and down this year, thanks in large part to a few of their top arms being slowed by injury. Miami will need to have their best, most cohesive performance of the year to take down a team like GVSU, but if they do, expect them to rocket up the rankings.

All Time: GVSU 4-0
Last Time: GVSU def Miami 5-1

8) UK vs. UC

Could this be the start of a new rivalry in the NCDA? These two schools are only an hour and a half apart.  Kentucky has not played in nearly two months, but had a decent showing when they last played. Cincinnati has been on the upswing as a program all season, and will be looking to continue that momentum going into the weekend.  Both sides are relatively young, and hungry for a win over a quality opponent. This wouldn’t necessarily be a ‘signature win’ for UC, but it would be just another victory that proves the Bearcats are for real.

All Time: UK 1-0
Last Time: UK def UC 2-0

9) UVA vs. Akron

The Cavaliers are traveling out of the East Coast for the first time this season and are looking to get their first win of the season.  UVA has played the 6th most difficult schedule to start the season. This experience should help them tremendously against an Akron side recovering from a rough tournament one week ago.  Players to watch for UVA include Zane Durbin, Jake Korman, and Ryan Kelly. On the Zips side make sure you check out Jacob Weber, who has been putting in an All-Region performance through the first half of the season.

All Time: UVA 1-0
Last Time: UVA def Akron 2-1

10) BGSU vs. UC

The last time these two squads faced off it was a nail biter with BGSU pulling out the 5-4 win in overtime.  This time around, the Bearcats will be hungry for revenge and hoping to pick up their first win over BGSU. Brett Liming and Brannon McGinn have been solid for Cicinnati this season, helping propel the team to better than expected results.  On the other side, Max Vincent and Owen Sill have been the most consistent players for what has been a roller coaster season for BGSU.

All Time: BGSU 2-0
Last Time: BGSU def UC 5-4

11) Kent vs. GSU

Kent State and GSU are two teams that have shown flashes of quality, but have struggled to put it together on a consistent basis.  However, with a favorable schedule this weekend for both sides, a multi-win tournament for either side is not out of the realm of possibilities.  This first match of the day will set the tone for both teams.

All Time: Kent 1-0
Last Time: Kent def GSU 5-1

12) UK vs. CSU

This will be a rematch from Nationals 2019, and a game between two teams that may not be Quarterfinals contenders this year, but still both very much in the Power Rankings discussion. A win here will go a long way for either school.

13) BGSU vs. UNG

Is UNG for real? This seems to always be a big questions for the top team from Georgia. We will have a better idea of where they stand after this weekend, because they will finally get to play some matches against teams from outside their own region. 

14) CSU vs. WVU

These two teams both carry with them a star player capable of turning the tide of a match.  For CSU, Joe Walsh has been a force with his arm and has improved his catching ability since last year which has propelled his team.  On WVU’s side, Cory Nasiadka has made a strong case to be both the East Coast MVP and a First Team All-American. Despite playing the 9th most difficult schedule at the start of the season, he has been a stand out player and kept them in games almost single handedly.  You’re going to want to watch these two players compete.

All Time: WVU 2-1
Last Time: WVU def CSU 3-1 

15) BGSU vs. JMU

Coming in at 15 on our list in BGSU vs. JMU. Bowling Green has demonstrated the ability to pull a big upset this year (see: BGSU vs. MSU), while JMU has shown they aren’t untouchable themselves (see: VCU vs. JMU). I guess what we’re saying is, The Dukes are the favorite here, but maybe there’s a chance BGSU gets the upset win.

Shadeed’s section: First game on court 3 is going to be a good one! I’m expecting BGSU to have their full roster against the Dukes. As stated earlier, JMU are the favorites but the Falcons are going to play tough for 50 minutes. 


Author: Kevin Bailey

Current NCDA Chief of Content. Former Captain for Grand Valley State University (#4).

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