Power Rankings: February 2018

Happy Super Bowl Sunday everyone.  While the NFL crowns a champion later today, College Dodgeball still has a few months before they do the same.  It has been an exciting season so far, and things are really starting to heat up as we head into the late winter / early spring.  Listed below are the power rankings for the month of February.  Please note, these power rankings (produced by Jacob Leski and myself) have no impact on the actual NCDA Standings.  These are strictly opinion based rankings.  Enjoy:


1) Central Michigan

The Chippewas keep rolling! Hard to find any glaring problems with this team. Even after losing Kris Kohler, and Tyler Prill to graduation, this team has not skipped a beat. Their most dominant performance to me was their match this past weekend against Kent State. Kent went up 1-0 on CMU, but the Chips won 5-1. This has happened more than once for this squad this year, which tells me that if they get down they have little trouble coming back, a strong sign of a championship caliber team. Their only real weakness is their lack in numbers. This squad often travels with the exact amount needed to fill a roster. However, look to see this change soon, leaders are working with myself and CMU’s club sports department to get their numbers back to what they used to be. – Jacob Leski

Easy choice for the number spot here.  Central Michigan is having an unbelievable season so far.  The Chips, sitting at 18-0, have a chance to be the first team since 2009 GVSU to win a national title with an undefeated record!  I am very excited to see this team in action next weekend at the highly anticipated Michigan Dodgeball Cup.  They are the clear favorites at the moment, but certainly will be tested by Grand Valley and Michigan State.  We all know Mike Riley is on of the best players in the country, but in my opinion, the x-factor for CMU the rest of this season will be the production from players like Grant Webber, Bryce Belen, and Casey Bielec.  All three have the skills to earn All-American status this year.  And all three will need to play their best dodgeball down the stretch for Central to preserve their undefeated season. – Kevin Bailey


2) Grand Valley State

Have yet to play a game so far this semester. The Lakers have done terrifically well in the second half of the season in most recent history. What this team has going for them right now is their work ethic. The culture at GVSU is winning. Any time this team has had a slow start, they have always found a way to surpass their competition by working the hardest throughout the year. They rarely have a moment of complacency. Especially with Dylan Fettig at the helm, and Captain Brandon Meisel (many believe I don’t respect his leadership), this squad will continue to perform at an elite level and challenge Central Michigan’s path to a National title. -JL

Grand Valley has had an interesting year so far.  They have yet to take home a W against CMU, but are undefeated in all other matches.  My hope for this squad is that they keep their foot on the gas pedal at practice and continue to improve.  Just as has been the case the last two years, GVSU is not the best team in the country at the midway point in the season.  Will the Lakers stick to the script and develop into a national champion by the end of the year?  That depends on how accountable each player on the team is during the next few months of practice.  I think CMU will be the favorite at MDC, but GVSU is more than capable of finding their rhythm by Nationals. -KB


3) James Madison

The Dukes are a mysterious team to me. Their only losses are to CMU and GVSU, however the manner in which they lost both of those games concerns me. Their match against CMU was a nailbiter, one in which they were leading for most of the game. However, their loss to GVSU was a blowout. While some may say that this is simply due to matchups for each side, I am not buying it. Their match against GVSU was a fluke. This squad is learning quickly that they have the talent to compete in what I believe is the top tier in the nation (CMU, GVSU). After JMU, the level of competition falls off dramatically, and it’s not even close. -JL

James Madison remains third on our power rankings, but as Leski mentioned, this team is right up there with the top two.  The Dukes will certainly be in the hunt for a national title this April, which is something we couldn’t really say about the last few JMU teams.  This group is athletic, and as competitive as they come.  I expect a strong second half of the season for them. -KB


4) Towson

Their only losses this season are to a very talented JMU squad, and BSGU. However those matches against JMU looked like a JV team playing a Varsity squad. Hence why I stand by my comment that after JMU, the level of competition falls off dramatically. This team needs a big win. Whether that be over a team in tier 2 (Kent, SVSU, BGSU) they won’t be taken seriously as a title contender until they can get a win over CMU, GVSU, or JMU. -JL

Towson, as I mentioned previously, has quietly put together a 14-3 record this year.  Only issue for me is that they have not been able to win a game against a single team inside our top 9!  They desperately need that signature win, and they will have plenty of opportunities this winter to do that.  With all of that said, obviously Leski and I have some faith in them to get back on track, as we moved this team all the way up to #4 nationally.  Look for the Tigers to have a solid second half to the season. -KB


5) Kent State

Yes, they beat BGSU. But they got womped by CMU. While I do think there is a lot of talent on this team, I don’t believe anyone outside of the top 3 teams has a legitimate chance at winning the National Championship. The real question is, how old is Albert DePerro? Over 25 or under? -JL

I am very impressed with Kent for their dominant 4-1 win over Bowling Green.  Prior to last weekend, BGSU was the clear top team in Ohio, but that has all changed now.  Kent has put together some very impressive wins this year, taking down MSU, SVSU, and BGSU.  My one concern with them is they are still a bit inconsistent. (see their 5-1 loss to Central Michigan).  If Kent wants to make the Final Four this year, they will need to become a smarter and more consistent group top to bottom. -KB


6) Bowling Green State

Hard for me to take this team very seriously after losing to Kent 4-1. They have a lot of depth, but apparently struggle to show up when it matters most. If they can play (and not cheat) like they did against CMU, this team can go as far as the semifinals. -JL

BGSU invited themselves to the Michigan Dodgeball Cup a few weeks back.  Unfortunately for them, they aren’t a school in Michigan so that didn’t go over well.  Regardless, I appreciate that this team is continuing to make an effort to compete against great teams.  They clearly have some work to do after their loss to Kent State, but an Ohio Dodgeball Cup title is certainly not out of the question. -KB


7) Saginaw Valley State

Still shocks me this team isn’t a top 4 team. They have the talent to compete with anybody. While part of me still has faith they will be a final 4 team, that faith is quickly dwindling. When it comes to skipping the MDC, I understand why they are skipping. Do I agree with why they are doing it? No I do not, but apparently traditions are meant to be broken. -JL

I’ve made it very clear how I feel about SVSU’s decision to back out of the Michigan Dodgeball Cup.  It is very disappointing to see, especially from a team that has consistently competed so well at that event.  Obviously this isn’t the same SVSU team that used to make serious runs at the National Title every year, but I still am holding out hope that they can be a Final Four caliber squad come April.  This group is not short on talent at the top end of their roster.  I still believe they have the potential to make a solid run this year. -KB


8) Michigan State

Starting to like the direction this team is heading. Yes, they lost to SVSU 3-1, and Kent 3-2, but that is much better than their results earlier in the season. They are actually competing with teams. They did in fact beat Ohio 5-1, but it is hard to take that team very seriously, so take that win with a grain of salt. I would love to see this team challenge CMU and GVSU at this years MDC. While many expect them to go 0-2, they are going to give everything they have to upset one of these powerhouse teams. -JL

I have to admit, in the limited amount of game action I saw from them last weekend, I am very impressed with this young team.  Michigan State’s youth hurt them badly in the fall, but they now are starting to turn the corner.  I am so excited to see what they do at MDC against two of the best teams in the country.  Will they come away with an upset win?  That’s a tall task, but I definitely think they will put up a solid fight.  With the young athletic group of rookies on MSU’s roster, it looks like the future is bright for the Spartans.  As of right now, I’m calling MSU my favorite to win the national title… in 2020. -KB


9) Ohio

This may shock many, but I have one or two nice things to say about this squad. To start, just two seasons ago this squad went 0-29. Last season they went 9-22. Currently they are sitting at 12-10, and in 9th place in the standings. That is impressive. While they are probably feeling pretty good about themselves, I still see many glaring issues for this team. One being their inconsistency. They take a team like Kent to OT back in October, but at the same tournament, get smacked around by an awful UK team (awful is putting it nicely). They also got walloped by a rebuilding MSU team this past weekend. If the Bobcats want to start being taken seriously, they need to start performing at a consistent level against teams close to them in the standings. -JL

I have nothing new to say about Ohio at the moment.  Yes, the loss to MSU was ugly, but I put that more on MSU’s improvement than anything else.  The next month or so will be very telling for this program.  They will be tested at both WAR and ODC.  Can the Bobcats pull off another ODC Title?  It will take everything they have, but I know that when this team is on, they are hard to beat. -KB


10) Virginia Commonwealth

It is hard for me to place too much judgement on this team with their Captain being sidelined for the entire season so far. Yes, he has been coaching them on the side, but that does little compared to Hunter Ford actually being on the court. The ball is in their court to make a strong push in the second half of the season, especially with Nationals being at home, their opportunity to win is now. -JL

This is the time of year when VCU burst onto the scene last season.  I have high hopes for this squad to make similar improvements this year.  Hunter Ford making his way back into the lineup will be crucial for this team, as he is their leader on the court.  I’m pumped to see this group get a few statement wins this winter, leading up to Nationals which will be hosted on their campus.  It could be a very exciting spring for VCU Dodgeball. -KB


11) Stevenson

Love what Kris DeJesus has done with this team. They are competing at a high level and traveling more than they ever have. While they may be incredibly top heavy, this squad is not a team to a take lightly. Look forward to seeing them continue to grow not just as a team, but as a club overall. -JL

Big fan of the trajectory of the Stevenson program.  This team has continued to get better and become relevant in the East Coast Region.  Kris DeJesus gets all the headlines, and he deserves it.   This guy is one of the best dodgeball players in the country.  With that said, a shoutout is in order for former DePaul star Mario Romanelli, who has been a key contributor for Stevenson this year, most notably in their first ever victory.  I’d love to see this team earn a couple big wins at Nationals. -KB


12) Kentucky

When it rains it pours. This club lost so much talent from last year that many thought they would struggle heavily. The fall semester went rather well for them, beating other competent teams in a respectable fashion. However, after this weekend, there is little doubt they are in a massive rebuilding stage. Being able to barely beat Ohio State tells me everything I need to know. -JL

I’m on the same page as Mr. Leski here.  I want to see this team make some improvements because they are clearly rebuilding.  I ranked UK’s rookie class two years ago as the best in the nation.  Well, I guess they haven’t done a good enough job retaining / developing those players because they would all be unstoppable upperclassmen now.  I hope UK can turn the page on a tough season and get some big wins in the coming months. -KB


13) Wisconsin Platteville

This team is only going to get better as the year goes on, and that is because of their decision to play tougher competition in the fall semester. While they may have gotten tossed around by Michigan schools, it will pay off for them in the long run because they know what they need to work on to be the best. -JL

I have a lot of respect for those leading UWP’s team over the past few years.  Despite a less than ideal location when it comes to their distance from other NCDA schools, this team has been sure to schedule plenty of matches.  As mentioned above, this team will continue to improve and benefit from the experience they gained in the fall.  Trust me, this is not a team to take lightly come Nationals. -KB


14) North Georgia

They have not played much, primarily due to their location, but from what I am seeing on this semester’s schedule, they plan on traveling to NSULA, and hosting their own tournament so far. I also expect to see them at Nationals as well. In my opinion, of our newest additions to the NCDA in the past two years, UNG and Miami have the brightest future out of all the clubs. -JL

The southeast is an exciting new region in the NCDA, and UNG continues to be the top team from the area.  It will be interesting to see this team compete more in the winter/spring, not to mention if they get the opportunity to compete against some other young teams like NSULA, Georgia Southern, and Central Florida. -KB


15) Miami

While Miami may be not be considered a “new club” this is only their second season back from being a defunct club as of last year. I credit the leaders of this organization for establishing a winning culture in the club, but one that knows how to have fun. I expect them to continue to improve consistently throughout the year. -JL

Miami’s signature win so far this year was over Ohio.  I’m curious to see if they can back that win up with another big performance in the second half of the season.  I’m intrigued by this team’s upside since they are so young.  Nationals will be a great opportunity for them to grow and improve. -KB


16) Nebraska

As of now, the Cornhuskers plan on attending Nationals for the first time ever. That will be an amazing achievement for this club, especially considering the trip from Lincoln, Nebraska to Richmond, Virginia is 19 hours without stopping by car. Regardless I look forward to finally seeing this group play. -JL

I have never been more excited and optimistic about the future of Nebraska Dodgeball as I am right now.  Credit the leaders of this team for getting them heading in the right direction.  The future is bright for UNL.  I’d love to see them pull an upset over a more experienced squad at Nationals. -KB


17) Penn State

penn state logo

Easily the biggest disappointment of the year. Many expected the club to continue off where they were last year, and they have let everyone down. Personally, I think the damage is done for this club. Their best bet at this point is to play as many games as possible to better prepare themselves for next season. -JL

I won’t go as far as my partner did by saying they are the biggest disappointment of the year.  Sure, PSU has failed to schedule as many games as we had hoped they would, but the jury is still out on this squad.  A solid winter semester, and an impressive showing at Nationals would save their season.  Hopefully they can put it all together before the end of the year, they certainly have the talent to beat plenty of the teams ranked ahead of them on our list. -KB


18) Ohio State

I find it hard to believe that Jeff Starr is not among the talk of “The Best Players in the NCDA” on a more consistent basis. Yes his team is down this year, but there is still no denying he is a very talented player. This squad is very much in the rebuilding stage, but that is no surprise to anyone. -JL

The Buckeyes sit at a very underwhelming 2-9 so far this season.  That shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise though.  They are young and inexperienced, so 2017-18 was bound to be a rebuilding year.  My predictions for the rest of the year: Buckeyes improve significantly and send off Jeff Starr with a well-deserved All-American distinction (after coming up one position short the last two years).  -KB


19) Virginia

Very similar situation to Penn State. Many people, myself included, thought that this club was going to turn it around this year and make some noise. Nothing has been further from the truth. They have been an utter disappointment and I am embarrassed that I thought they were going to make something of themselves this year. Prepare for next season, this was one was a scratch. -JL

Once again, Leski needs to calm down a bit here because Virginia still has plenty of time to prove themselves worthy this year.  I predict this is another team that really turns it around this semester and come April they will be in better position to get a few wins at Nationals. -KB


20) Oregon State

They plan to be playing again soon. Their matches with Gonzaga got rescheduled for March. The University of Oregon is in the early stages of starting a team as is the University of Idaho. That is all I will say for now on our West Coast expansion. -JL

The West continues to expand, and as of now Oregon State is our pick as the best of the bunch.  The next tourney out west could change all of that.  I’m ready to see these new teams in action so hopefully they film the matches.  Shoutout to Mr. Leski and everyone else who has been involved in those expansion efforts out west.  Exciting times to be a college dodgeball fan. -KB


 

Author: Kevin Bailey

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

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