Michigan State University will open the college dodgeball season this weekend, hosting a tournament with six schools in attendance. All four Michigan teams will make their way to IM West on MSU’s campus this Sunday, along with two Ohio schools: Akron and Bowling Green State.
This will certainly be an interesting mix of teams, as we finally get to jump back into dodgeball with this being the first tournament since Nationals 2017. There are many intriguing storylines to follow at this event.
Below are a few storylines that I think we should all keep an eye on. But, before I get ahead of myself, here is the schedule / format for the event:
Pool A: GVSU, CMU, Akron
Pool B: SVSU, MSU, BGSU
12:00 p.m. – GVSU vs. CMU, SVSU vs. MSU
1:15 p.m. – Akron vs. CMU, MSU vs. BGSU
2:30 p.m. – GVSU vs. Akron, SVSU vs. BGSU
3:45 p.m. – Three-Seed A vs. Three-Seed B, Two-Seed A vs. Two-Seed B
5:00 p.m. – One-Seed A vs. One-Seed B
Which Michigan team will start the season hot?
You’ve all heard enough about each of these Michigan schools already. All four will be in attendance to start the season off. I like this because, unlike in seasons past, it will feel like all four schools are on a level playing field from day 1. I don’t mean that each team will be even on talent and skill, but rather that no team has a head start over any others by starting the new season earlier in the fall.
We all have an idea of what to expect heading into Sunday. It’ll be great to see a few marquee matchups this early in September. The two Michigan v Michigan games we are guaranteed to see will be GVSU vs. CMU and MSU vs. SVSU. Both of those games will take place during the first round (12:00 p.m.). It won’t be long until the first blood is drawn in the Michigan Region.
My last thoughts on there four teams as we prepare for a great tourney on Sunday: Will anyone be able to upset the Lakers? Who will start the new season as a bigger threat to GVSU’s empire, SVSU or CMU? And lastly, how strong will MSU be after losing so many star players to graduation? Sunday will certainly bring us some answers.
Is Bowling Green for real?
I have extremely high hopes for the Falcons of Bowling Green State University this season. Last year BGSU turned some heads with the success they had down the stretch, especially at Nationals. BGSU played tough against eventual champion GVSU, tying the game with the Lakers during a back and forth first half. They also had a strong second half when they took on James Madison. It was clear to see that this team had the talent and team coordination to compete with the best of the best. On top of that, BGSU showed the rest of the league they can come out on top in clutch situations, as they did in an exciting first round win over Penn State. Those were two evenly matched schools, but BGSU was able to come away with a big win.
Now turning our eyes to this new season, I hope to see BGSU take the next step as a program. Choosing to travel to Michigan in September to play against some of the best teams in the nation is a very bold decision, but it is exactly what I like to see from a team that wants to improve. BGSU has already proven to the rest of the NCDA that they are serious about winning this year. Testing themselves against MSU and SVSU will only help their process of improvement. The Ohio Dodgeball Cup is a long ways away still, but if BGSU can hold their own on Sunday, I will definitely consider them an early favorite to take the trophy at ODC. This weekend will give us some answers on just how good BGSU is right now, and how much potential they have going forward this year.
How much has Akron improved?
Just as I said about BGSU, I am impressed with Akron for choosing to drive up to East Lansing for what is likely going to be a tough tournament for them. It is no secret that the Akron Dodgeball program is not on the same level as the teams they will be facing in pool play. They have the luxury of getting pooled with the two schools that made it all the way to the NCDA Championship Game last spring… yikes.
Despite what is likely to be an 0-2 record in pool play, Akron still has the chance to show the NCDA a lot on Sunday. This group has a strong top group of players. It is exciting because they now are also experienced dodgeballers, with several years of NCDA Dodgeball under their belt, and some Elite Dodgeball experience as well. Akron may lose their first two games this year, but if they can compete and maybe steal a few points from GVSU or CMU, that will prove they are an improved bunch. This tourney might not leave Akron with a great record, but it will give them some very valuable experience heading into the fall.
My Tournament Predictions:
GVSU def. CMU 3-0
SVSU def. MSU 3-1
CMU def. Akron 4-1
MSU def. BGSU 3-2
GVSU def. Akron 5-1
SVSU def. BGSU 3-1
BGSU def. Akron 3-2
CMU def. MSU 3-1
GVSU def. SVSU 3-1
*Note: with the NCDA moving from 15 v 15 to 12 v 12, don’t be surprised to see games that are a bit higher scoring. See you all on Sunday!