What a month! February 2019 was arguably one of the most entertaining months in the history of collegiate dodgeball. From the absolutely chaotic WAR III tournament, to the always telling MDC, to the wild finish at ODC, and everything in between, February was special. With all the crazy games we saw this past month come some shakeups in the monthly power rankings. Below is the official March 2019 Power Rankings list produced by NCDA Executive Board members Jacob Leski (Director of Recruitment and Retention) and Kevin Bailey (Chief of Content). Please keep in mind: these power rankings have no impact on the actual NCDA Standings.
1) Grand Valley State
Kevin Bailey: Any questions on if GVSU was content with where they currently stand wen tout the door when Towson announced the lineup for their ‘Nationals Send-off Tournament’ happening March 30th. It will be great to see how the Lakers compete with Towson and JMU at this stage in the season. For now, they are the clear #1 team in college dodgeball, thanks to a 5th consecutive Michigan Dodgeball Cup title. The Lakers showed they weren’t perfect at that event (trailing MSU for a short period in the second half), but also showed they have a whole different gear that no other team can really match (taking two extremely quick points to take back the lead in that same MSU match).
Jacob Leski: Grand Valley was able to take care of business once again at the Michigan Dodgeball Cup. Unless Towson or JMU can make it very close with GV at Towson’s ‘Nationals Send-off’ tourney I find it extremely difficult not to pick them to roll to a 7th straight National Title come April. The one thing that continues to separate GV from their competition is their experience getting to the Finals and competing at their highest level of the season. They always show up when it matters most, which why I believe is why the dynasty of Grand Valley Dodgeball will continue.
KB: Not a perfect month in the W/L column for Towson, but a very productive one nonetheless. The Tigers tested themselves as much as any team has this season with the stacked slate of games they faced at WAR III. Towson ended up coming one OT nail biter away from leaving that tournament 4-0, but MSU was able to pull an upset. While it wasn’t ideal to fall to MSU, I know Towson has the talent/experience to learn from those experiences. Speaking of learning from a loss, TU was able to get some revenge on JMU (the only other team to beat them this year), earning at 3-2 win over their East Coast rivals at BEAST VIII.
JL: You can guarantee that Towson has their calendars circled for their showdown with Grand Valley. These two squads have yet to play this season, and it is safe to say that this could easily be the matchup in the National Title game. One thing Towson can not do is underestimate the rest of their competition. They haven’t proven anything yet, all that matters is how they perform at Nationals, and history has shown us that they tend to choke when it matters most.
3) James Madison
KB: Really unsure what to make of JMU at this juncture. They clearly have the ability to compete with top teams (see their win over Towson last semester), but they might not have quite enough to be considered at title contender (see 5-0 loss to GVSU, also last semester). We will know much more about the Dukes after March 30, where they will get another crack at #2 Towson and #1 GVSU.
JL: They desperately need a big win over GVSU or Towson to prove that they should be a favorite to make the Final Four. The Dukes strongly believe this is the best array of talent they have ever had (which in itself is a bold claim) and I want to agree with them, but they have to get a marquee win at Towson and make it to the Final Four to deserve that comparison.
4) Saginaw Valley State
KB: After the performance Saginaw had at MDC, one could argue this is the Cardinals’ best shot at making the National Title Game in a half decade (coincidentally they last made it in 2014). WAR III and MDC reaffirmed to me that this team is the best catching team in college dodgeball. That catching is their ticket to success over the next two months. Outside of a last second escape against Akron, it was a very impressive month of February for Saginaw.
JL: I have this nostalgic feeling that the Cardinals are going to surprise everyone once again at Nationals, but this time make it to the Finals, so long as they are not on the same side of the bracket as GVSU. In my opinion, Kyle Bruce is the 2nd best player in the NCDA behind Brandon Meisel, I am excited to see him show how much better he is than the rest of the talent in the league.
5) Michigan State
KB: Seems like we’re learning new names each tournament for MSU. That’s because they have just that much young talent on their roster. The Spartans might not have had the greatest MDC performance overall, but they did turn some heads by taking a lead over GVSU in the second half of that matchup (first team to hold a 2nd half lead over GVSU all year). My take on this team: they are still inexperienced and inconsistent, but their ceiling is as high as just about any team in the country. Question is, how close to their ceiling will they get before April 14?
JL: Can “Bob Knight” rely on the rest of his teammates to step up when it matters most? They didn’t finish last at MDC for the first time in many years, so that deserves to be recognized. If the Spartans want any shot at making it to the semifinals, then they must rely on more than 3 or 4 players to do something productive, the team as a whole must contribute.
KB: Quite the up and down month for the RedHawks. They came so close to pulling the upset over Towson at WAR, but also lost a game to BGSU, and in turn lost the ODC. Miami needs to find a bit more consistency if they want to compete with the big guns of the Michigan / East Coast regions at Nationals. I’m still unsure if a Final Four appearance is in the cards for this much improved team.
JL: I really do not understand how this team lost to BGSU at ODC… All of the Ohio teams know each other well, thus making it more likely that games will be closer, but if you want to be considered anything of a threat/taken seriously, then you cannot have a loss like this happen to you. After this month, I feel safe saying that there are only 4 or 5 teams that have a real chance at making it to the National Title, and Miami is now without a doubt not one of them.
7) Central Michigan
KB: Alright, time to put it all together, Chips! It’s March, you now have just over a month until Nationals, and you are far from a finished product. They will take on SVSU later this month in what I consider to be one of the most intriguing matchups left in the 2018-19 regular season. CMU has a lot still to prove over the next 41 days. The last time this team failed to make it to the National Title Game, some of the players on their roster were in middle school. Let that one sink in…
JL: Damn! I hate watching my Chips struggle on such a big stage. The Chippewas have got to get it together this month, for a bad showing at Nationals would be incredibly disheartening for the future of this club. The last time this squad did not make it to the National Title game was in 2014 when they were ousted in the first round for a second year in a row.
8) Bowling Green State
KB: No team makes as large of a jump in the rankings this month than Bowling Green. The Falcons had a solid showing at WAR III, but really made their mark with their Ohio Dodgeball Cup performance. BGSU pulled off a big upset over Miami at ODC, then promptly followed it up by winning the 5-team tie-breaker OT roster tourney. With an ODC title in hand, this team can now set their sites on reaching the quarterfinals at Nationals, or maybe, just maybe, another Final Four.
JL: I just don’t get it. Considering the ODC was at BGSU, did they have insanely talented players show up that never travel? Did they finally come into their own? Were all of the teams that they played wearing blindfolds? I look forward to hearing how this squad pulled it together and shocked the league. I am sure I will hear things such as hard work and communication, and while I am sure that may be true, I am interested to see if this really was just a fluke or if they should be taken seriously for a 2nd season in a row.
KB: I liked what I saw fromm Ohio in February. This team might not be the most consistent yet, but they have a lot of potential. Their wins over PSU, VCU, and BGSU this month all bode well for this team’s chances at Nationals. They have more talent than most will expect, and they have an ability to ride the momentum wave at times.
JL: No, they did not move up in the Power Rankings because Caleb Arnold is back on the team…They moved up in the Power Rankings because they defeated the team that won the ODC. About all I have to say about this club.
KB: Solid month for the Zips. While they’ve dealt with a few heartbreaking losses recently (PSU and SVSU come to mind), they’ve also had a few big wins that showed this program has officially turned the page from their days of being a new NCDA school still trying to develop. Akron is a legitimate quarterfinals contender.
JL: What is supposed to be said of a team that constantly gets close to beating a great team, but chokes every time? I want to see them make it to the quarterfinals this year, and I believe they can do it, but it is difficult to imagine happening at this point.
11) North Georgia
KB: Nothing new here. I’m dying to see this team play.
JL: Not much coming out of this team for quite some time. They are sitting in a good spot right now, but if they have any hope of making it to their first ever quarterfinals appearance, then they must play more. They have a tournament coming up at the end of the month, and it appears UCF will be in attendance, will be good for this squad to play a new team.
12) Virginia Commonwealth
KB: After starting WAR III with so much promise (beating UK soundly, and Kent in OT), the Rams’ month went off the rails. A blowout loss to Ohio wasn’t ideal, nor was Virginia nearly upsetting VCU in their overtime match at BEAST VIII. VCU enters the final month of the regular season with plenty to still prove.
JL: I am not quite sure why the Rams agreed to go to Towson’s tournament where they will get pummeled by the top 3 teams in the country. This team is a shell of its former self. Just goes to show how great of a leader Hunter Ford truly was to this organization.
13) Penn State
KB: While we dropped them one spot in the rankings, I do want to point out I have a lot of optimism for this team. They are top to bottom one of the most athletic teams in the country, and they do a great job catching. Those traits will help them later this year and at Nationals. But will it be enough to pull an upset and make it to the quarterfinals? As of now, their predicted Round of 16 matchup would be against #4 SVSU.
JL: Once again, a very middle of the road team that can hang with anyone. Now that does not mean they will win, but they always bring it to every team that they face. A shame that Nationals won’t be in Happy Valley this year.
14) Kent State
KB: Beating Ohio at ODC, and keeping it close with SVSU at WAR are two nice results, but let’s not get things twisted, this was a bad month for Kent. Anyone remember the last time this team was ranked 5th in their own region? I’m pretty sure the answer is never… until now.
JL: I literally have nothing positive to say about this squad right now. So I will leave it at that…
KB: No surprising results from this team at WAR. I’m still not sure what this teams potential is. Hopefully we find out over the next few months.
JL: Hope to see them playing again soon. Little coming out of this camp, praying that the departures of Zach Parise and Ricardo Menchada don’t prevent this team from competing on a more consistent basis.
16) Ohio State
KB: Ohio State found their way into a 5-way tie for the ODC Championship in February. Surprising feat for a team that is still below .500 on the year.
JL: I am rather surprised that they did not win the ODC once it went into a 6v6 tournament. Their top 6 may be one of the best in the nation, a great opportunity to win the ODC was lost.
17) Cleveland State
KB: Cleveland State might not have earned any wins over ‘Power Ranked’ teams last month, but they did prove to the league that they are continuing to improve. I am excited for this team’s future.
JL: Even though they went 1-2 at the ODC, this team continues to improve with each tournament that they attend. Excited to see the finished product this unit will be, come mid-April.
KB: UMD jumps in-region rival UVA this month, after taking down the Cavaliers at BEAST VIII. I can’t wait to watch this team surprise people at Nationals 2019.
JL: UMD is team along with the one below, that needs a statement win to be taken seriously at Nationals. The best thing they can do for themselves right now is to travel outside of the East Coast and play teams in the Midwest in order to see where they truly stand amongst the rest of the league.
KB: If you would’ve told me UVA would enter the month of March with only two wins under their belt all season, I would’ve called you crazy. Well, here we are. Virginia hasn’t reached their potential this year, but forcing OT with VCU at BEAST has me cautiously optimistic that maybe they can turn a corner over the next 1.5 months.
JL: As they always do, this team has failed to live up to their potential, and I have begun to lose faith in what they are capable of achieving. Last year they went into Nationals with some steam, would like nothing more for them to do the same once again.
20) Wisconsin Platteville
KB: UWP is the class of the Midway Conference right now. No question about it. I can’t wait to see how they do at the Miami tournament this month, and of course, at Nationals.
JL: As sad as it is to say, UWP has a firm grasp on the rest of the Midway Region. While that may not be saying much, this team has done a great job of building up their younger players into formidable opponents.