Possibly considered the “Pool of Death”, Pool D has four NCDA mainstays in #4 Saginaw Valley, #8 Ohio State, #11 Western Kentucky, and #16 DePaul.SCHEDULE
7:30 AM- WKU vs DePaul
7:30 AM- SVSU vs OSU
8:45 AM- WKU vs OSU
8:45 AM- SVSU vs DePaul
11:15 AM- OSU vs DePaul
1:45 PM- WKU vs SVSU
-Led by Max Siler, Torrie Peplinski, Zach Phelps, and Mike Sharp
-Biggest Win: Grand Valley
-Strength: Top 10 players. The Cardinals top 10 match up well with anyone in the country. Their top six is overtime tested and they can win close games.
-Weakness: Depth. SV’s depth isn’t as strong as it was last year, when SVSU won the National Title.
-Impact Player: Spencer Jardine (SVSU #77). As Jardine goes, so go the Cards. A lot is said of his great play, but his energy and leadership are huge for this young team.
-X-Factor: Experience. SVSU is coming off a year when they won the National Championship, and have played in many close games. They won’t be scared when it comes to clutch time.
-Led by Jude DuPart and Ryan Carlton
-Biggest Win: Kent State
-Strength: Defense. OSU has always been a great catching and blocking team, and this team is no different.
-Weakness: Inconsistency. The Buckeyes have played very streaky, but not in a good way.You can never know what OSU team is going to show up.
-Impact Player: Chris Stringer (OSU #34). Easily the best offensive weapon they have, he has one of the strongest arms in the league.
-X-Factor: Pace. If OSU can force their tempo on the opposition, and keep the games lower scoring, they can win.
-Led by Alex Sorrels and Johnny Thacker
-Biggest Win: Saginaw Valley
-Strength: Passion. WKU has some of the best passion in the league, and this helps them get a huge start to games.
-Weakness: Communication. They have a hard time talking on the court, which is one of the biggest facets of the game.
-Impact Player: Felix Perrone (WKU #76-A). Similar to Spencer Jardine at SVSU, Felix is the heart and soul of this Toppers team, and he is one of the best dodgeballers in the league.
-X-Factor: Adaptability. Alex Sorrel’s Hilltoppers can play any game style, whether its fast or slow, ball control or free flowing. If they don’t get a chance to impose their will on the game, this gives them a chance to compete with anyone.
-Led by Troy Dixon, Anthony Netzel, Brian Van Meter
-Biggest Win: Moody
-Strength: Unpredictability. With DePaul you never know what to expect, and while they can lure you in with goofiness, they can also blast you if you’re not ready.
-Weakness: Strategy. DePaul wings it on the court, and they rarely seem to have a set strategy in place like some of the top schools do.
-Impact Player: Brian Van Meter (DePaul #91-A). His chop throw can be nasty, and he clearly stands out amongst his peers.
-X-Factor: Athleticism. Believe it or not, DePaul has some extremely athletic players who would make the rosters on a lot of teams, and this will help them pull out some wins at Nationals.
WKU vs DePaul: Two totally different tempos go at it, with the Toppers’ slow pace facing the Demons’ speed. I think DePaul can make it a contest, but they might not have enough to knock off WKU.
SVSU vs OSU: Two teams who have had some bad blood in the past. A severely undermanned Cards squad knocked out the Buckeyes in October 3-2, so expect a fully loaded SV team to do the same.
WKU vs OSU: Both these teams will play a litlte slower, but WKU’s all around play should take down the more catching oriented Buckeyes. Watch out though for if some of Ohio State’s players get hot, they could turn this in their favor quickly.
SVSU vs DePaul: The Cardinals will control this one pretty quickly, and it should devolve into a for fun game pretty soon into the second half.
OSU vs DePaul: This is my upset pick of the Saturday portion of the tournament. DePaul is the more athletic team, and I think as thus they’ll out throw the Buckeyes. However, just like in the WKU/OSU game, if Ohio State gets hot they can catch their way to victory.
SVSU vs WKU: The marquee game of the Pool, this is a rematch of the huge upset that WKU had over Saginaw at the BEAST II. These two teams always play it close, and at Nationals 2011 they had a very heated battle. Watch for yet another classic game, but this time likely a SVSU win.
(courtesy of Shadeed Drakeford, VCU)
Winner of Pool D: SVSU. Spencer Jardine. That is all I need to say. Just kidding. On a serious note, they seem to be peaking at the right time. This could be bad news for the rest of the teams in this bracket. The younger players has been developing into their roles and the veterans are pushing the pedal to the metal. The seniors want to defend their championship and let this group and the league know that they’re still the champs. And if you want the championship, you have to beat the champs first.
Key matchup: SVSU vs WKU.
(courtesy of Sam Hiller, MSU)