*This is the first of three previews for the Spartan Invite. Previews from Colin O’Brien and Jacob Leski will be published in the near future.
This Sunday, Michigan State University is set to host the annual Spartan Invite at IM West. Michigan State along with Grand Valley State, Central Michigan, DePaul, Bowling Green State, and Kent State will take part in a big-time tournament.
As we close in on the end of the fall semester, this tournament will likely determine who the top dog in the NCDA is at the halfway point in the season. All eyes will be on the matches that take place between MSU, GVSU, and CMU. Each of these teams has beaten the others at least once so far this fall. The circle of parity at the top of the league is more severe than in years past, but there is still over half a season left. If any of these schools has plans of distancing themselves to become the #1 team in the league, this tournament will certainly be a strong stepping stone in that effort.
Bragging rights will be on the line Sunday when MSU, GVSU, CMU, BGSU, DePaul, and Kent face off in the annual Spartan Invite. Here are my predictions for this weekend’s matches:
10:30- MSU vs. GVSU, BGSU vs. DePaul
The first round of games at the Spartan Invite could actually end up being the closest matches of the day. On the main court, the host school will take on Grand Valley State in what will be their fifth duel this season. Right now these teams are tied at two wins in their season series so a lot will be on the line when they face off. Expect a fairly low scoring battle between these two powerhouse schools in a game that will go a long way in determining who the top team in the NCDA is as we finish up the first half of the season.
The second match may not garner as much attention as MSU vs. GVSU, but Bowling Green State facing off against DePaul is going to be a good one if you ask me. BGSU has played far more games this year compared to DePaul, so I am going to give the edge to the Falcons in this one, but don’t be surprised if it is a close game. DePaul’s top end talent is usually on par with some of the best teams in the league, they just have lacked depth. If DePaul can force this game into overtime, they should come out with a victory, but I will predict BGSU holding onto a lead to win in regulation.
GVSU def. MSU 2-0
BGSU def. DePaul 3-2
11:45- MSU vs. CMU, GVSU vs. Kent
Round two of matchups at IM west will include a rematch from last week’s overtime game at the Death Valley Invitational (MSU vs. CMU), along with a matchup we have yet to see this year (GVSU vs. Kent). I’m going to make a not so bold statement and say that MSU and CMU will once again come down to an overtime period. The Spartans and Chippewas both have very good top-end talent so an OT match between the two teams should be a thriller to watch. Despite the Spartans holding home field advantage I am going to give this one to the Chips by the slimmest of margins.
In the other match, GVSU will take on Kent State for the first time this year. I expect this one will go GVSU’s way by a decent margin. I haven’t seen the Golden Flashes play yet this season, so the element of surprise is something that could swing the game in their favor.
CMU def. MSU 3-2 (OT)
GVSU def. Kent 4-0
1:30- MSU vs. Kent, GVSU vs. BGSU
The third round at the Spartan Invite features two Michigan vs. Ohio matchups. MSU takes on Kent, while GVSU plays BGSU. I don’t think either of these matchups will be too intense, with both Michigan teams being heavily favored. Don’t be surprised if either Ohio team manages to take appoint, but at the same time don’t expect an upset.
MSU def. Kent 4-0
GVSU def. BGSU 5-0
2:45- MSU vs. DePaul, CMU vs. BGSU
Round four at MSU will include a few matches with a clear favorite. MSU is the likely victor in their game against DePaul, while Central Michigan should be able to handle BGSU. I expect both DePaul and Kent to rely heavily on their top players in these games. If the favored school is able to take out the top opposing players, the points will end quickly. If Kent and BGSU are able to keep their top guys alive, then these matches could end up closer than expected.
MSU def. DePaul 4-0
CMU def. BGSU 4-0
4:15- GVSU vs. CMU, DePaul vs. Kent
The second to last round of games will certainly be one to watch. For starters, GVSU takes on CMU. Not much really needs to be said about this one. These schools have faced off twice since last season’s national title game and both matches have gone into overtime. My biased opinion is that this one won’t require OT.
DePaul will take on Kent State in a game that I actually think will be tight to the finish. If DePaul is able to bring their full roster this game could end up being a great one to spectate. Look for Kent to hang on for a close victory.
GVSU def. CMU 2-1
Kent def. DePaul 3-2
5:30- CMU vs. Kent
The final game of the tournament pits Central Michigan against Kent State. With both teams struggling to finish off the tournament with sore arms, don’t be surprised if the group with better depth runs away with this one. I would predict CMU takes this last match based solely on the fact that their back end talent is superior to that of most teams, including Kent State.
CMU def. Kent 3-1