1. Kent State (21-7) 42 points
2. Kentucky (13-1) 26 points
3. JMU (12-4-2) 26 points
4. SVSU (10-5-3) 23 points
5. MSU (10-5-2) 22 points
6. GVSU (10-1) 20 points
7. Maryland (4-5) 8 points
8. Ohio State (4-7) 8 points
9. Towson (4-9) 8 points
T10. WKU (3-6) 6 points
T10. CMU (3-6) 6 points
12. Miami (3-12) 6 points
13. Moody (2-3) 4 points
14. DePaul (2-6) 4 points
15 BGSU (2-9) 4 points
16. RIT (1-3) 2 points
17. VCU (0-11) 0 points
18. Nebraska (0-4) 0 points
-Kent State, as predicted by many, is going to end up with the #1 ranking at the end of the regular season. The sheer amount of games they’ve played is insane, as they’ve played one less game than they did all of last season, and that’s including Nationals! 8 points is all the need to be the first team to 50 points in a season. Their problem is that they have a good chance of drawing one of the big Michigan schools on the first day of Nationals, but their improved play and attitude shows that they’re not afraid. With some big guns on their roster and some great blocking, the only questions that linger for Kent are their catching and their depth.
-Kentucky has the league’s best win percentage, but they also haven’t played this semester. They’ll get their matches in at the DePaul University Invite, but they’ve gone from chasing that #1 ranking to trying to hold off JMU’s pursuit of #2. If they have kept the roster they’ve had the first semester, and possibly added some new pieces or developed, they could be scary good. They’ve shown that they can go deep into Nationals as well, so they won’t be scared playing at home on Day 2 of Nationals.
-James Madison has come from seemingly nowhere to be neck and neck with UK for that #2 spot, and even though they didn’t have the BEAST II performance they wanted they could definitely earn that second ranking if they can pick up a few more wins. They have a talent laden roster, and have good strategy, and playing five games in one day should prepare them for Sunday at Nationals. After a dynamite first season, they could make a huge leap and win Nationals in their second season, something that hasn’t been done in the NCDA (not Midwest Dodgeball Conference) era.
-Saginaw has come back from the dead as they try and defend their championship. After starting the season off poorly, they have stormed through the competition, going 2-1-1 at the MDC and winning the BEAST II. Their depth may be an issue, but when you have a top 10 like they do, they can go far. They are one of the three or four best catching teams and they are looking to be the third team to repeat as College Dodgeball Champions (OSU and GVSU have previously done it.) The growth of players like Zach Phelps (SVSU #2-A), Mike Sharp (SVSU #6-A), and Max Siler (SVSU #38-C) has been instrumental to their play, as they have sufficiently replaced former Cardinal greats like Brettrager, Janick, Schian, and Stein.
-MSU is in the five spot by one point, due to SVSU’s 3 OT losses compared to State’s 2. They’ve had to deal with the injury bug this semester, but they should be firing on all cylinders at Nationals in April. The problem for the Spartans is what was said above with Kent State: they are likely to be the “sixth one seed” in a bracket that only has room for five. This means that they are likely to draw either Kent State, JMU, or Kentucky in the first day of Nationals. While they are 2-0 against Kent State this season, they are a combined 0-2 vs JMU and Kentucky. The Spartans will have to fight hard for their first National title, but they have the talent in place to do it. Their biggest problem is they don’t play a full 50 minute game, and instead they usually wake up around halftime. They’ll need to play to win if they want the championship.
-The 2013 Michigan Dodgeball Cup Champions, GVSU, may be the favorite to win the title. They may be sixth in the standings, but they have the second best win percentage, and their only loss is by a point at SVSU. They’ve won some close matches this year, so they’re definitely battle tested, but they have the depth, skill, and leadership to go toe to toe with anyone. They lost a couple players that played in the OT point against MSU in December at the semester mark, but they still had a good enough OT team to take down SVSU at the MDC. They could be the 4, 5, or 6 seed and have 3 tough games on Sunday of Nationals, but they’ll be ready for it.
-There is a big drop from the sixth ranked team (GVSU) and the seventh ranked team (UMD), a 12 point drop in fact. There is also what is considered by many to be a clear cut top six, and then some teams that could make some noise at Nationals if they get a good bracket or if they play well:
- Ohio State has been inconsistent this year, but the brand name of Ohio State and their two National Championships can go a long way. Adding to that is their great catching and some power arms. This team is very comparable to the 2010 team that went to the Final Four, but unfortunately the rest of the league has gotten better than they were in 2010.
- WKU knocked off SVSU with some heroics from former captain Felix Perrone (WKU #76-A) and that’s the WKU we’ve been waiting for for years. That is probably the biggest win in program history, and it could be a momentum builder for the team. If they can carry that momentum they should have the talent for at least a National Quarterfinal appearance.
- Towson has the talent of a top 10 team, they’re just a little light on strategy right now. They have the time to develop a gameplan, and if they get a good draw at Nationals they could also go to the National Quarterfinals.
- CMU has one of the best players in the country in Bryce Corrion (CMU #00-A), two of the best catchers in the country in Brett Hadwin (CMU #4-A) and Wes Peters (CMU #27-C), and then some unknowns. Those three make one of the best “Big Threes” in dodgeball, but they need the rest of the team to be ready to roll if they want to get some wins at Nationals. If they can, they can catch their way to the Quarters.
-The rest of the league can definitely get some wins at Nationals as well, they’d just be more darkhorses to win it:
- Maryland has had a good season, but they may be tired out by the amount of games played at Nationals. They also will be playing a lot of these schools for the first time, as the vast majority of their matches have been against East Coast schools.
- Miami has 3 wins this season, but also 12 losses. The good news is that they’ve won 3 of their last 7 games, which is a great improvement. They also played fairly well last Nationals.
- Moody is 2-3 on the season, and they have one of the best players in the league in Ryan Pattison (MAD #10-A). If they can grow from the CDO and play well at Nationals, they could pick up some a couple of wins.
- DePaul has the talent to be a top 10 team, they just have to want it. If they want to go to the Quarters, they can. I have a feeling they’re going to be the DePaul we all know and love though and walk out Undefeated.
- BGSU is in a similar position as Moody, with a great player, some other good players, and then some developing ones. If they get hot, they could also get some wins.
- RIT picked up their first win in program history at the ODC, and they could continue that play and get a win at Nationals as well.
- Nebraska has gotten a lot better from last season, but they need a full roster and to develop more teamwork if they’re going to try and get a win at Nationals.
-Then there are the teams who haven’t played a game this season, but still could show up for Nationals:
- WIU was a good team at Nationals 2010 and 2011, then fell off last year a little bit. If they can rediscover what they had they could definitely sneak up on teams.
- K-State hasn’t played since Nationals 2011, where they went 0-4. They were in a tough group with SVSU, WKU, and BGSU however.
- Northwestern State is always a unique team, as they have the most lady dodgeballers of any team in the country. They also have some guys who are really athletic. If they can harness that athleticism, they could win a game or two.
- Wisconsin-Platteville has been in the league for a long time, yet they rarely play outside of Nationals. They usually have a good team, but the lack of game experience hurts their cause.
- North Texas is joining the NCDA, and have not yet played a game. If they go to Nationals they could be a complete wild card team.
This has been one of the biggest and best seasons yet for the NCDA, if not the best. Nationals 2013 at UK could be a revolutionary tournament for the league. Will the state of Michigan hold onto the title? Or will “The World” step up and claim it for their own? Can SVSU repeat? Can UK become the fourth title winner to win the title at home? Can original teams MSU and Kent State win their first championship? Or will a new blood win it? This should be a great end of a great season.
Nationals 2013 at Kentucky: April 12th-14th.