The following article was co-authored by Chief of Content Kevin Bailey and Erik Zander (UWP Captain).
This Sunday, Grand Valley State University will host one of the most anticipated late season tourneys prior to Nationals. In attendance will be some of the top dodgeball teams in the country. GVSU will obviously be there to protect their home court. Central Michigan will also be in attendance, looking to avenge their most recent loss to the Lakers. Along with these two top teams, Michigan State will make the trip to Allendale as they look to make some improvements heading into Nationals. Wisconsin Platteville will travel around the coast of Lake Michigan up to GVSU’s campus after competing in Chicago just last weekend. And lastly, Saginaw Valley State will be in attendance, with an opportunity to play against GVSU and CMU for the first time since the fall. Along with these five NCDA teams, there will also be a Grand Valley Alumni Team participating in the tournament, with exhibition games scheduled vs. CMU, MSU, and GVSU.
Below, Erik Zander and Kevin Bailey will discuss each official matchup at Rectification, and will provide predictions as well:
For starters, here is the tournament schedule for Sunday (GVA = Grand Valley Alumni):
Round 1 – 11:00 a.m.
GVSU vs UWP
Kevin Bailey – Instead of just talking about how GVSU will outmatch UWP in this game, I’ll give you a little bit of a rant. As Colin O’Brien mentioned to me earlier this week, most teams in this league talk the talk but refuse to walk the walk (UWP is not one of those teams though). For Nationals 2018, a combined ZERO teams requested either GVSU, CMU, or SVSU! ZERO! Platteville is one of the few teams who will never shy away from taking on the bullies that are the Michigan schools, and that is a credit to the leadership on their team over the past few seasons. They made the trek to CMU in the fall to play in a tourney featuring GVSU, SVSU, CMU, and JMU. And now, they’re the only non-Michigan team bold enough to come to the Rectification hosted by GVSU. Yes, a few Ohio schools played at the GVSU Guantlet and MSU’s early season tourney in the fall, but I figured I should give a shoutout to UWP for their continued effort to take on the best of the best regardless of the disadvantage in talent they have against those teams. Prediction: GVSU def UWP 5-1
Erik Zander – This will be a fun match up for the day for both teams to get started on. The last time these two teams played GVSU beat UWP 5-2. This time around Platteville is looking to make things closer this time. Everyone is excited to play and full of energy. I’m going to predict that the score will be GVSU defeats UWP 4-3. This will be a high scoring game and for some reason Platteville loves the number seven this year.
SVSU vs MSU
KB – We had the chance to see this matchup earlier in 2018 at the Ohio Winter Showdown. SVSU came away with a 3-1 win. Both squads have improved significantly since that game though, so there is no guarantee we see the same score. I think MSU will make a couple points close, but the experience and top end talent on SVSU’s roster will be the difference maker. Prediction: SVSU def MSU 4-0
EZ – MSU is a team that is building confidence and with every match they are only getting better. When a team is starting to build confidence, it can be dangerous for any team that has to play them. If they are taken lightly, even at the beginning, it can make them a challenge and be a mistake that can cost SVSU the win. SVSU needs to come out strong and control the tempo and speed of the game to prevent MSU from getting into a rhythm. MSU will need to rely on their young freshmen to make big plays to take the load off for their veteran players. My prediction for this game is that SVSU will defeat MSU 3-1.
Round 2 – 12:15 p.m.
GVSU vs CMU
KB – As has been the case for about the past half-decade, any event that features both CMU and GVSU will have this matchup as the most anticipated of the day. CMU holds a 3-1 lead in the season series, but the most recent matchup saw GVSU absolutely run them out of the gym by a score of 5-1. Central will make the necessary adjustments to prevent a blowout, but at this point int he season, the Lakers are starting to hit their stride, so you have to play mistake-free dodgeball to even have a chance against them. My predicted X-factors in this game will be Nick Watson and Bryce Belen for CMU, and Blake Clevenger and Nolan Stanko for GVSU. None of those four will be the MVP of the match, but the winner of the game will be determined by how well those four individuals play. Prediction: GVSU def CMU 3-2
EZ – How will this match go? It is a bit of a toss-up for me. In the last meeting between these two squads Grand Valley dominated CMU and showed why they are the reigning champs of the NCDA. I think a big part of their success last time was that they brought the energy and CMU lacked it. Also, their captain Michael Riley did not have a great game and I think that if he can perform at the level he knows that he can play at CMU will be tough to beat. This is a tough prediction to make, but I will take GVSU defeating CMU in overtime 2-1.
MSU vs UWP
KB – This is quite honestly one of my favorite matchups scheduled for this Sunday. Both squads have been hovering between 8-12 in the NCDA standings. Also, MSU is #8 in the most recent Power Rankings, while UWP sits at #12. Well, this weekend will be a huge “prove-it” moment for both squads. The keys to this game will be the following: is Erik Zander healthy? If so his on-court presence will help keep UWP’s still inexperienced group in order. That will give UWP a better chance to win. On the flip side, the question is simple: will MSU’s young and talented freshmen listen to the leaders on their team and play smart, controlled dodgeball? MSU has the advantage from a talent perspective, but they need to play together as one cohesive unit if they plan on closing out enough points to earn this win. Prediction: MSU def UWP 4-3
EZ – This match up I’m most excited for. It has been a while since these two teams have played one another. The last time these two squads met was back in the younger days of Colin O’Brien and it was at Nationals at Ohio State University 2013-2014 season. Both teams have young squads which should make for an interesting matchup. It may well come down to the experienced veteran players on the court. In this game I will give the edge to MSU as they have more experience playing against tough competition like the other Michigan teams. The score will be close though, MSU defeats UWP 3-2.
Round 3 – 1:30 p.m.
GVSU vs SVSU
KB – GVSU titled this tournament “rectification” for a reason. Rectification is defined as “the action of putting something right”, and that is exactly what they intend to do when they finally get the chance to play SVSU after the Cardinals were absent from MDC. SVSU has other plans, as they believe themselves to be the best team in Michigan now. The key in this game won’t be the arms for SVSU, but rather their catching ability. Can Nick Hazergian, Kenny Mize, Kyle Bruce, perform on Sunday against top teams like GVSU? It will depend on how many big catches they can make. Prediction: GVSU def SVSU 4-2
EZ – I’m interested to see how this game turns out. SVSU has a lot to prove in this match. If they can beat GVSU or put up a close fit it will show the league that they are in fact a top three team in the nation. They have not played the Michigan schools yet this year and it will be interesting how they handle. Everyone says that they are strong second semester so I guess we shall see if that continues to roll for them this tournament. GVSU can help their case that they are the #1 team by putting a beat down on SVSU. Grand Valley plays CMU before this and let’s hope they do not use all their energy up. My prediction is that GVSU defeats SVSU 3-2.
CMU vs UWP
KB – Central Michigan will clearly have the upper-hand in this game. One thing I have been impressed with about CMU is their depth when it comes to arm talent. They have plenty of live arms on this roster, and I think the game against UWP will give some of those less well-known players an opportunity to shine. CMU will win this game with ease, but UWP will once again benefit from playing the best there is, and they will steal a point in the second half. Prediction: CMU def UWP 5-1
EZ – This will be the last matchup of the day for Platteville and I will be interested to see how my teammates handle playing three games in a row. I hope they do not get lazy and not keep the intensity. My biggest hope for this game is that we can show CMU that it is worth their time playing us and I hope that they do not let up on us and play us tough throughout the match. If they run up the score like last time, then by all means please do, we will learn a lot more from that then if you hold anything back on the court. This time around I think that Platteville will play much better and CMU will defeat UWP 5-1.
Round 4 – 2:45 p.m.
CMU vs SVSU
KB – The timing of this game will have a major impact on the outcome. Since it is the final match of the day, the result will be different than if it was game 1. If CMU drops their game earlier in the day to GVSU, it will be interesting to see how they recover form that to play another great team. If CMU wins that earlier matchup, they will be riding the high and will likely knock SVSU out cold. On the flip side, if Saginaw pulls an upset over GVSU in the round prior to this, all bets are off as the Cardinals would be playing for a chance to be the undisputed winners of the tournament. I think CMU’s depth and experience will be the difference. Prediction CMU def SVSU 3-2
EZ – For this match, I believe that CMU will have no problem taking it to SVSU and getting the win. SVSU will just have played GVSU and will be tired. With CMU’s strong throwers and top catchers, I do not see SVSU being able to keep pace with them. If SVSU can keep up and make throw for throw and catch for catch this game could be a close one. My predictions for this match are that CMU defeats SVSU 4-1.