Power Rankings: Postseason 2018

Another year of College Dodgeball has come and gone.  Nationals 2018 held at Virginia Commonwealth was a huge success, and with it came plenty of upsets.  For that reason, the power rankings saw plenty of changes since last month as you will see.

Below is the official 2018 Postseason Power Rankings list produced by NCDA Executive Board members Jacob Leski (Director of Recruitment and Retention), and Kevin Bailey (Chief of Content).  For this Post-Nationals Power Rankings list, we included Hunter Ford (Director of Nationals) , along with Content Writer Colby Briceland.  Please keep in mind: these power rankings have no impact on the actual NCDA Standings.  And for those curious, yes the “way-too-early” 2018-19 rankings are coming soon…


1) Grand Valley State

Kevin Bailey: That was quite an impressive finish by GVSU.  After an up and down season that saw them lose a record 4 times to one school (CMU), the Lakers made sure to leave no doubt in anyone’s mind who deserved the national title.  The NCDA Championship Game was no contest.  GVSU rolled to a 6-0 lead before letting CMU on the board with under 2 minutes to play.  Overall, GVSU met “the expectation” again this year by winning the National Title, so the season was a success.  This team brings back all but 2 starters, so 2019 could be much of the same…

Jacob Leski: Congratulations to the 2018 National Champions. I will admit, I had my doubts about this squad. I thought CMU had their number and that the National Championship wouldn’t be even close. I was wrong about which team would dominate in the Title Game though. Credit is due to the leaders of this team, especially Brandon Meisel who did a fantastic job keeping his team composed throughout both days at Nationals. Hard to see any team winning a game next season against this squad, but then again, we thought the same thing for this season…

Colby Briceland: It’s no surprise to me that after a season of ups and downs the Lakers are back on top, (if you can call being in second place being down). The only losses this season coming from Central in the regular season. Grand Valley was able to take their rightful place at the top of the heap once again. I know people ask this question every season, but seriously, is anyone able to take the title away from this team?


2) Central Michigan

KB: As much as I loved seeing my alma mater (GVSU) take home the title, it certainly sucked to see those players from CMU come up short again.  I am a huge fan of what the Chippewas were able to do this season.  This group had an incredible year, losing only twice.  Unfortunately for CMU, those two losses cost them two very important trophies.  Side note: I was really proud of the CMU players for the way they handled themselves during the loss to GVSU.  When you come so close to a title, then the game is a blowout, often times the match will get very chippy (no pun intended).  This CMU squad handled that difficult situation with a lot of maturity, and there was no poor sportsmanship whatsoever during the blowout loss.  Much respect to the Chippewas for that.

JL: My heart breaks to see this phenomenal team lose a fourth straight National Championship. Having been a part of two of those four, it is never easy getting so close to winning it all, to seeing it fall in front of your eyes. Congrats to Joe Kobus being the only CMU player to start in 4 National Title games in 4 years. While many expected a drop-off like this year, give the leaders of this club time to mold a new class into a powerhouse once again.

CB: If Central walks away with anything this season, it was that for the first time in a long time, a team besides GVSU walked into Nationals ranked number 1. I know it’s all about the title, but Central can move on knowing that they had an incredible season. I for one thought this was going to be a rough year for the Chippewas and boy was I wrong. Mike Riley fired up this team, (pun intended), and what they did was nothing short of incredible. They had a rough road at Nationals with many scares, but they made it to the National Title Game AGAIN, but unfortunately fell short, again. We’ll see how next season goes after they graduate a large portion of their roster.

 


3) Bowling Green State

KB: Talk about putting it all together!  BGSU’s best squad ever really showed up to play at Nationals.  Big wins over East Coast powers JMU and Towson, and a spot in the Final Four were enough to push them to #3 in our final power rankings.  While they will lose a handful of stars to graduation, I expect them to compete for an ODC title next year.

JL: My bold prediction that this squad would make it to the semifinals stood correct! Making it that far is no small feat whatsoever. What a great season for this squad, the state of Ohio is relevant once again in the NCDA. Look to see this team build upon this season’s success for years to come

CB: Our in-state rivals managed to have the best season in team history. They were the talk of the town this season and did not disappoint. They managed to make the Final Four after a great season for the club. Taking out JMU on day one of Nationals and then beating Akron and Towson to make the Final Four was no easy task, but the Falcons were able to make their state proud.


4) James Madison

KB: The Dukes had a few very tough games at Nationals.  Two nail-biters against Central Michigan, and of course the loss to BGSU on Day 1.  Terrible to see Schilling’s career come to an end with a shoulder injury.  One of the most talented dodgeballers in the NCDA.  Looking forward, I expect JMU to get better.  They will be loaded with talent and depth next year.  So much so, that I predict they will make the National Title Game in 2019.

JL: They may have lost in the quarterfinals for a 3rd consecutive season, however this team took CMU into OT, which is an achievement in itself. Many believe that had Doug Schilling not gone out with a shoulder injury, it would have gone down to the wire. Congrats to Doug on a fantastic career, you will be missed.

Hunter Ford: I had reallllllllly high expectations for JMU at Nationals but unfortunately for the third year in a row we saw them finish 2-3.  That being said, two of those losses came against finalist CMU and one against semi-finalist BGSU.  The Dukes lose one starter from this past season, granted it is Doug Schilling.  We honestly could expect JMU to not drop a single point in East Coast play next year.


5) Saginaw Valley State

KB: Don’t know what exactly to make of SVSU’s season.  When they were on their game, they were a great team, but they also had times where they played down to their competition.  Credit to this team for their resiliency after losing two games on Day 1 of Nationals.  SVSU still managed to make the Final Four in 2018.  No one can deny them of that accomplishment.

JL: What a rollercoaster season for this squad. At one point they struggled to fill a full roster, to making it all the way to the semifinals at Nationals.

CB: In the preseason I had SVSU winning the national championship. While I was wrong, Saginaw Valley had a great season along the way. From skipping MDC, to having a rough day one of Nationals, they were able to take down Kent State and make the Final Four, again, falling to the eventual champs in bracket play. Watching how they rebound from their losses this season will be a story to follow next year.


6) Towson

KB: Still pains me to think about the way this team’s season ended.  Towson entered the season with a lot of hype, and while they were certainly a good team in 2018, they unfortunately did not finish the way they would have liked.

JL: It was hard watching how this squad fell in the quarterfinals. While they are still pointing fingers for why they lost, you can’t take away how great they played all season long. I expect this team to continue to grow as a club and make the quarterfinals once again next season.

HF: Towson arguably had the most heartbreaking loss in Nationals history.  While I feel for Towson and the departure of Michael Hinely, this team has established a standard and reputation in the East Coast than can be covered by most players stepping in the Tiger uniform.  They are the clear #2 in the East Coast still, and I have good reason to believe they will perform well under new captain David Gaure.


7) Kent State

KB: Kent unfortunately drops to #7 in our final power rankings.  While they looked poised for a Final Four berth following their win over SVSU on Saturday, the loss in the Quarterfinals to SV was not even close.  Still, Kent had a heck of a season, which included an Ohio Dodgeball Cup Title, and multiple wins over Michigan schools.

JL: I was very taken back at Kent’s collapse against SVSU in the quarterfinals. They had everything going for them leading up to this game, including a victory over SVSU on Day 1. A lot of questions about this squad will hopefully be answered come September.

CB: Kent State had a tremendous season. Winning the Ohio Dodgeball Cup, only losing to Bowling Green, Towson and a few Michigan schools is nothing short of amazing. They managed to go 3-0 on day one of Nationals, which is no easy feat. Come day two they once again lost to Saginaw Valley who appears to be this team’s weakness on Sunday of Nationals. Regardless of the outcome, Kent State had a season to be proud of.


8) Michigan State

KB: So, before you get to Mr. Leski’s section on MSU, I’d like to point out that he is not the first person to predict MSU to win the 2020 title.  I made that prediction first, back in February.  In fact I’ve mentioned that prediction in two separate articles this year.  If you don’t believe me, you can find it here and here.  Anyway, I was very impressed with how MSU improved throughout the year.  Earning a spot in the Quarterfinals is no easy task for a team with so much inexperience.  While the Spartans will lose a few stars this offseason, I still expect a better year from them in 2019.

JL: I have no idea what Kevin is alluding to…Anyhow, Rebecca Shappell and company led this very young team in a positive direction all season long. I expect for that trend to continue next season.

CB: We can all agree that this was a rebuilding season for the Spartans, but we also need to admit that it didn’t take them long to catch their bearings. State was able to recruit a strong rookie class, and groom them into good players in a matter of months. Who knows, maybe next year will be the year where they actually perform at MDC. All jokes aside, they were impressive despite the cards they were dealt.


9) Virginia Commonwealth

KB: Loved the way this team competed at Nationals.  VCU’s games against SVSU and MSU from Nationals were two of the most exciting dodgeball games I’ve ever witnessed.  This offseason we must bid farewell to a few VCU greats: Hunter Ford, Torao Ota, and club founder Shadeed Drakeford.  These players have laid the foundation for continued success at VCU.  Much respect to the three of them.

JL: It only fits that this team were the ones to blow everyone away on Saturday of Nationals. While they may have lost in overtime to a talented MSU team, this team should be ecstatic with how they finished the year.

HF: This was easily the Rams best performance at Nationals in program history.  While it will be tough to see the departures of myself, Torao Ota, Shadeed Drakeford, and Lakota Smith (who will be returning for the 2019-20 season after serving a year in the National Guard), this team was more well-balanced this season than in any year prior.  VCU will be able to reload instead of recover under new captain Wayne Shortt.


10) Kentucky

KB: This team jumps 5 spots on our list, all the way into the top 10.  Parise and Menchaca leave some very large shoes to fill, as both were fantastic players during their careers.  On the bright side, they packed this team full with young talent, so the future of UK Dodgeball is bright.

JL: Congrats to Ricardo Menchaca and Zach Parise on great careers with the Wildcats. They have seen the club at its best and at its worst. Here is hoping next season’s leaders can keep them moving in the right direction.

HF: I was genuinely impressed with the young talent of UK.  Everyone knew this was going to be a rebuilding year for the ‘Cats, but with a 3-2 finish at Nationals you can’t be too disappointed in this group.  While they will miss great players in Zach Parise and Ricardo Menchaca, the foundation of UK is still strong enough to keep this group going next season.


11) Miami

KB: Miami went from unranked to #11 over the course of one season.  Great work by the RedHawks.  Next year should be a big one in Oxford, Oh.

JL: There isn’t a team that improved more throughout the season then this team. Starting out the year towards the very bottom of the standings, they worked their way to an 11 seed at Nationals, which isn’t too shabby considering this is only their 2nd year back in the league.

CB: If someone told me that Miami would be one spot away from top ten after their second season back in the league, I would have told them you’re right. When I saw them play at Akron’s pink out tournament, I saw a turnaround in the program. And boy this young squad didn’t disappoint. They went 3-0 on two separate occasions and had an impressive showing against teams that are far more skilled than they are. This squad has what it takes to be a top tier team next season. And don’t be surprised when it happens.


12) Penn State

KB: I’m not sure exactly how they pulled it off, but PSU held a 2-1 lead over CMU during bracket play.  It was a wild game.  PSU has so many standouts during Nationals, Brett Miller stood out to me.  This kid is unreal.  He caught just about every ball thrown his way during their game vs. CMU.  I have a feeling he’ll be making a more than a few All-American ballots next season…

JL: The fact that this team was the 16 seed, was and still is mind blowing to me. They had a disappointing Day 1 showing, but backed it up on Sunday tied with CMU at the half! Lots of room for growth for this squad.

HF: PSU arguably had the best schedule at Nationals 2018 to make a big jump in the standings, equally so, they arguably had the worst schedule at Nationals 2018 to make a big drop in the standings.  While the latter occurred, I think it was clear to most teams that this was a talented group with a lot of potential.  Next year will certainly be a rebuilding year, and we’ll see if Jake Nasiadka is up to the task.


13) Virginia

KB: UVA heads into the off-season with a whole lot of momentum, and deservedly so.  This group plays extremely well together.  Jeremy Shaw is legit, even without one hand and one knee.  I’ve had several people I trust tell me Zane Durbin is a future star in this league.  I think UVA understands they have serious potential next year.  Can’t wait to see how they do in 2019.

JL: This team impressed me for a number of different reasons, but the main one being how talented they are at communicating with one another on and off the court. Give Jeremy Shaw credit for instilling this in this young team.

HF: The Cavaliers keep on chugging along in their quest to dominate the NCDA.  They have steadily been improving since their introduction season during the 2015-16 year, and they will be retaining everyone for the third year in a row next year.  Expect a lot from the likes of Zane Durbin and Ryan Kelly.


14) Akron

KB: If 2 years ago someone told me that Akron would be a top 2 team in Ohio, I would’ve been rolling on the floor laughing at them.  If someone had said that to me this year, I still would’ve called them crazy…. But if someone says that about next year’s squad, I wouldn’t have a real argument against them.  Akron is poised to have a heck of a year in 2019, just wait.

JL: Best finish in school history for the Zips! If I am not mistaken, they are returning everyone from this year’s squad. Look to see this team make some noise next year!

CB: After a rough season of low numbers at every tournament that they attended, they were able to take 12 to Nationals and had a great showing. The Zips were able to take down two squads that were far ahead of them in the rankings. This team has what it takes to become top talent in the league. What this team still lacks is depth. With a strong recruiting class the Zips will be a force to be reckoned with.


15) Maryland

KB: My sources tell me the Terps graduate exactly ZERO starters.  Oh boy.  UMD came on strong down the stretch this year, but next season will be when we see the true resurgence of UMD Dodgeball.  Oh by the way, Nathan Stock and Shawn Sullivan will be in the All-American discussion next spring.

JL: This was my favorite team to watch at Nationals. They played with composure and did a fantastic job communicating with each other. This team lives off pumping each other up, which is fun to watch. This is another squad that will be returning everyone next year.

HF: UMD showed they have the ability to compete with anyone, but their youth showed big time at Nationals 2018.  They had the ability to go 3-0 on Saturday, but instead collapsed against BGSU and Akron in the second half of both games.  The ‘Terps are just like UVA in that they are losing no players next season, in what will most likely be the most competitive season in East Coast history.


16) Ohio State

KB: Farewell to one of the greats (Jeff Starr).  Watching his career end during their overtime loss to Maryland put me in physical pain.  Starr’s talent and leadership will be missed next year for Ohio State.  The good news: there is enough young talent on this team to make me optimistic they will improve.  Ben Johnson and Dylan Greer will be two headliners next year in the Ohio Region.  That’s a very promising 1-2 punch for OSU to build around next season.  I am very excited to see what the next chapter of OSU Dodgeball involves.

JL: The fighting Jeff Starr’s are no more after this season. They will have to go back to simply being the Buckeyes unfortunately. On a brighter note, this club has the potential to improve tremendously next year barring any departures other than Starr. Congrats on a great collegiate career, now you can focus solely on being a Gamecock.

CB: The Buckeyes had a rough season this year, no doubt about that. With injuries and low numbers plaguing this squad all season, many were surprised at how well they competed at nationals. I for one, was not surprised. I know what this squad is capable of and they have the talent to be a competitive squad.


17) North Georgia

KB: Nationals was not kind to North Georgia, as they lost several close games, including their 1st-round duel with Virginia.  Not the ideal finale for one of my favorite ballers in the NCDA: Kyle Dattelbaum, who had a major hand in our league’s southern expansion (see Leski’s section).  People tend to forget that UNG is remarkably only in its second year as a program.  While they will be losing their first true “star”, I expect UNG to continue their rise in the NCDA.

JL: Tough finish for Kyle Dattelbaum, who single-handedly had the greatest impact on the South Region, more than anyone in this league. Credit to him for building up a region from scratch and solidifying a strong culture in his team’s program. Job well done.

HF: I knew it was going to be a tough Nationals for the Nighthawks when I found out they were coming shorthanded.  Despite the 0-4 finish, I have good expectations for UNG next season.  I have seen first hand what they are capable of with a full squad, and they will be more than up to the task next season to assert their dominance over many South Region rivals.


18) Wisconsin Platteville

KB: This was another school that had an unfortunate finish to their season.  UWP was the best team from the Midway Conference all year, but unfortunately when they faces some stiffer competition, they weren’t able to get any big wins.  After a 1st-round victory over CSU, Platteville had to face eventual champion GVSU in the next round.  Tough draw.  UWP’s young squad will be better next season.

JL: Damn, what an awful finish to the season for the Pioneers. Going 1-4 on a weekend in which many thought they would do far better.

HF: The Pioneers could’ve fared better, but honestly they had about as tough a draw as they could’ve gotten in hometown VCU, an underrated OSU team, and dominant East Coast power Towson on Saturday.  Their lack of a consistently strong strength of schedule showed, but this will give them a good learning opportunity for next season.


19) Cleveland State

KB: CSU earned a big win over GSU on Day 1 of Nationals.  Despite facing some tough opponents the rest of the way, that win solidified them in my top 20.  Congrats to Cleveland State for making the trip to Nationals and performing well!

JL: It is great to see this squad make the final power rankings to finish the season.

CB: After their second season Cleveland State comes in at number 19. Not bad for a second year program. This team should be proud of all they accomplished this season. With more teams joining every year, the competition from the bottom of the league to the top keeps getting closer and closer. The Vikings already have a few wins under their belt. Let’s see if they can break through next season.


20) Nebraska

KB: I am pumped to see where this program goes over the next few years.  They may not have earned any program-changing victories at nationals, but they passed the “eye-test” enough to earn a spot on our Postseason Power Rankings.  Next year should be an exciting one for the Huskers.

JL: Congrats to the Cornhuskers on attending their first ever Nationals, expect them to be a staple for years to come.

HF: I had the privilege to officiate this team’s game against Miami on Sunday (until I got pulled aside for other duties) and I was thoroughly impressed with this group’s ability to work as a team against a strong opponent in Miami.  It was great to see them at their first ever Nationals, and they surprised me in a lot of ways.  Going forward it will be tough for them to schedule strong opponents given their geographical limitations, but if they can keep the same energy I saw in Richmond then they have solid footing for years to come.


 

Author: Kevin Bailey

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

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