Team writeups provided by the NCDA Power Ranking Panel
1) Michigan State – While their last match was over two months ago, the Spartans have put in a lot of work on their own time and hope to finish the fall semester just as strong as they started. Michigan State heads into the weekend with three big matchups at the Dr. Peter Broe Classic and looks to prove just why they are the unanimous #1 among the power rankings. Between the triple headed All-American offensive threat of Jack Girling, Barry Butler and Alec Deen coupled with a well-versed defensive core, MSU seems incredibly solid on paper. The real test will come down to rookie development. It comes as no surprise that the Spartans have recruited well, but their top rookies in Nick Fedewa, Matt Barriball and Zach Van Fleet will be paving the way and look to shine in key roles this weekend. If they continue to develop, you can expect these three to become new household names in the NCDA.
2) Ohio – Another impressive month for the #1 ranked Bobcats in the books. Their only hiccup at Pink Out came in the form of a heartbreaking OT loss to JMU, but Ohio quickly shook it off and took care of business the rest of the day. They earned a 6-0 shutout of previous #5 seed Penn State and vexed Cincinnati once again to vault to the top of the standings. To be the best you’ve got to play the best, and so far this group hasn’t shied away from taking on top talent when able. That’s the mark of a team looking to stay at the top.
3) James Madison – JMU finally earned some respect from those outside the East Coast. Going 2-1 with an OT win vs Ohio and a commanding win against Grand Valley, it’s safe to say no one will view them as a non-contender. Although they seemed to take their foot off the pedal a little bit dropping a game to Akron at the end of the day, the Dukes are a squad that can beat anyone on any day. What is also a good sign for this squad is the return of Evan Eschenburg back in his vintage form. Something to also note about this team is the emergence of Nick Foss, maybe the best catcher in the league, adding to this already stacked, veteran core.
4) Grand Valley State – GVSU had an interesting showcase at Akron’s Pinkout tournament with a close win over OSU and an even closer win over Penn State that went into overtime. The juggernauts ended up losing to JMU 4-2 with an easier looking win on JMU’s side. What does this mean for GVSU? It means they are not as perfect this year as in years past. GVSU now has good competition and needs to be able to keep up their style of play with these other juggernaut teams. Looking forward to see how they fair in the Dr. Peter Broe Classic with a 2022 Nationals rematch with MSU.
5) Cincinnati- Cincinnati remains in the 5 spot for the third straight month. While this is a very respectable rank, the Bearcats think higher of themselves. While they own quality wins over OSU and PSU, UC has not yet beat a team ranked ahead of them. With a veteran heavy roster, it is safe to assume the Bearcats will be able to figure things out pick up big wins down the stretch, and when they do pick up some momentum, opposing teams better be on notice.
6) Nebraska – At the Pioneer Classic, the Cornhuskers came in and took care of business. They put up several points against their opponents and did not drop a single point to any of them. They got their rookies some valuable play time that only makes them a tougher team to beat. UNL is a great catching team which will carry them far come nationals. The experience of playing teams outside their region was extremely beneficial as they are only going to get tougher to compete against. This is team that will be fun to watch next semester as they compete once again at UWP’s home tournament and hopefully the War tournament.
7) Ohio State – After their fourth consecutive 2-1 performance, Ohio State has remained relatively idle in the power rankings once again. This team has had ample opportunities to break through against top teams in the league, but have yet to come through when they need to. The Buckeyes are a few crucial plays away from being a real contender, and they will look to turn this narrative around at WMU in December. Until then, they will remain outside the top 5 in the power rankings.
8) Akron – Akron finished the month of November with a very impressive 3-0 performance at the Pink Out. With all of their wins being over teams in the top 11, the Zips have catapulted themselves into the top 10 of the power rankings for the first time this year. When their top players PJ Antalek, Clay Egleston, and Jeremy Faircloth are firing on all cylinders, this team looks nearly unbeatable. If they can turn these flashes of greatness into consistent play, they will be contending not only for an ODC title, but a national championship as well.
9) Penn State – Well, Pink Out was a disastrous showing for Penn State. Playing a ridiculous schedule of UC, GVSU, Akron, and OU led to them suffering 3 resounding defeats and an OT loss to GVSU. Watching PSU gives the impression of a team without an on court leader or super star player. All the other top teams across the league have a couple big time players who are well known around the league. Don’t get me wrong, Penn State has plenty of talent. They just need some of their top players to go from good to great if they want to be a team that hangs with the best.
10) Wisconsin Platteville – Platteville rebounded really well at the Pioneer Classic going 3-0 after having those two tough losses against UNL. UWP is slowly putting it together and are working on getting this unit to the next level. There is a lot of work to be done, but they are ready for the challenge. They will get an opportunity to see where they are at as a unit at the the Dr. Peter Broe Classic, going against top teams like SVSU, MSU, and OSU. Don’t be surprised as the year goes on if they get some big wins and cause problems for the best teams in the league.
11) Bowling Green State – Bowling Green finds themselves moving up this month taking part in Akron’s Pink Out VII. After a dominant win againt Cleveland State, the Falcon’s could not buck the trends from earlier this year. The second game of the day came against Akron where they were unable to capture their first win against the Zips this season. Game 3 showed a glimpse of what could be for the Falcon’s future. Captin Evan Brown lead the come back against a very good Ohio State team but the team ultimately fell in overtime. The Falcon’s this first half of the season have shown plenty of potential, but they have not been able to get over the hump. For a younger team like Bowling Green, they need to pick up a signature win if they are looking to compete for an ODC title. Once the Falcon’s get rolling they have the pieces and players to be a serious threat; we need to see a win over a team like OSU, Akron, Ohio to get that started.
12) Saginaw Valley State – Saginaw Valley did not play at all in this month. Hopefully they can still be the good team we know they can be when they come back to action on December 4th. SVSU has a hard lineup ahead of them with MSU, GVSU, and UWP at that early December event. Maybe we’ll be seeing some upsets from the Cardinals.
13) Towson – Towson did not play at all in the whole month of November which led to them dropping a few spots. We will see them play Penn State and Maryland this weekend in Happy Valley. We still do not really know much of what this team will be. They have a few top players, but their supporting cast is very much a mystery at this point. I think we will definitely have some more to say seeing their results from this weekend.
14) Miami – Miami continues their rise this season coming to the 14th spot. The Redhawks took care of business going 2-1 at the Pink Out VII with wins over Kent State and Cleveland State. This young team keeps getting better and are finding their rhythm as a team. Rookie Phillip Hampton has become a key contributor on offense and the rest of their rookie class continues to develop. The Red Hawks are looking to continue their upward trend heading into the spring semester. Picking up a key win over a higher ranked Ohio region team could be the key for them to take the next step.
15) Virginia – UVA played one game this month vs a short handed UMD squad and picked up a 3-1 win. Although this may not shoot them up the rankings much, it is a massive victory for this program. For a team that barely played at all last season, this first win in over a year is huge. UVA has a lot of talent for a squad that is ranked so low. Time and experience is what will make this team better. They must attend as many tournaments as possible to continue their progression into a respectable squad.
16) Maryland – UMD had an fairly unimpressive showing at UVA. However, I think this should be taken lightly given they played with 10 players and missing some of their best on what is already a top heavy squad. This team is getting better slowly, but there are still way too many mistakes for a club that thrives on winning with thin margins. The Terps top 3-4 players are equal to those of any squad in the NCDA, but the support needs to get more consistent. There are flashes of people stepping up, but not enough to put togehter wins against top squads. They will be back in action this weekend vs Penn State and Towson.
17) Western Michigan – The Broncos had a good showing in November getting their 2nd ever win in program history over CSU with it being 4-1. WMU struggles to close out points over tough opponents so it’ll be interesting to see how they are able to play in their home tournament, the Dr. Peter Broe Classic. With an opposing lineup of CMU, OSU, CUW, and Kent, the Broncos are in for a good treat hopefully being able to add to their program wins.
18) Cleveland State – CSU is a young team that is learning how to paly the game and each passing tournament they keep getting better and more comfortable on the court. They are team that excels at catching and are not afraid to go for catches. If they can add a few more powerful arms to their squad, they should be able to compete at an even higher level and make their matches much more interesting. They are just missing a few pieces and that is all it will take for them to put the pressure on their opponents.
19) Kent State- This is a very young team that is showing a lot of promise. They have a lot of decent throwers and really good catchers. The thing for them is to just get more experience so that they can minimize the mistakes so they are better able to compete. They are led by Vannessa Hudson who is a strong thrower and catcher and if she keeps playing the way she does, they will be getting wins next semester and causing trouble for the teams of Ohio.
20) Concordia – The new team in the league makes it on their first power rankings list ever. This is a unit that is very athletic and have a lot of talent and are excitied to be a part of the league. CUW will be in action again this weekend after impressing the teams at the Pioneer Classic with their skills. With them getting tournament experience, they should be able to better compete with teams next semester and really challenge their opponents. Do not be surprised if they go 2-1 on the weekend.