“Way-Too-Early Top 20” for the 2014-15 Season

ncda_logoThe 2014-15 College Dodgeball season is still many months away, but if you are like me, you are already looking forward to the coming season.  Much like espn.com makes annual “Way-Too-Early Top 25” lists for college football and basketball; I will be giving my list of the top 20 teams in the NCDA for next year.

I know for a fact that not everyone will agree with my rankings, so feel free to post your own opinions in the comment section below.  Here is my Way-Too-Early Top 20 for the NCDA’s 2014-15 season:

 

gvsu-logo1.  Grand Valley State

2013-14 Record: 32-1

2014 National Tournament Finish: Beat SVSU in Championship Game

GVSU must replace 5 starters from last season’s National Championship squad this year.  While the Lakers will lose many of their most important performers, the transition from season to season shouldn’t be very tough.  Look for a talented group of younger players to make a name for themselves in 2014-15.

 

2.  James Madisonjmu-logo

2013-14 Record: 19-6

2014 National Tournament Finish: Lost to GVSU in the Semifinals

James Madison comes in at #2 on my list just above Saginaw Valley for a few reasons.  The Dukes will return almost all of their starters from last season, giving them a more experienced team than they have ever had in the past.  JMU has improved as a team each of the three seasons that they have been in the NCDA.  After making it to the Final Four in 2014, their next step could be to reach the championship game.

 

3.  Saginaw Valley Statesvsu-logo

2013-14 Record: 22-6

2014 National Tournament Finish: Lost to GVSU in Championship Game

Saginaw Valley State is always near the top of the standings by the end of the NCDA season.  Don’t expect that to change next year.  The Cardinals may lose a few of their better known players, but new captain Nathan Council is just one of the many leaders on this team.  This group will once again rely on their stellar teamwork and communication to remain a top tier team in the NCDA. SVSU should be favored to make another deep run at Nationals in 2015.

 

4.  Michigan Statemsu-logo

2013-14 Record: 10-13

2014 National Tournament Finish: Lost to SVSU in the Semifinals

MSU is making a habit of improving dramatically in the 2nd half of the season.  They have made it to the Final Four two straight years, including an unexpected appearance in the National Championship Game in 2013.  Next year should see the Spartans once again make the Final Four, but don’t be surprised if they perform much better in the first half of the season as well.  MSU will be forced to replace only 2 or 3 starters.  That’s bad news for MSU’s opponents next year.

 

5.  Central Michigancmu-logo

2013-14 Record: 8-13

2014 National Tournament Finish: Lost to UK in the first round

Before you yell at me for putting a team that lost in the first round of the national tournament in my top five, hear me out.  Just to make this clear: CMU RETURNS THEIR ENTIRE ROSTER!  Keep in mind many of those players were in their first season of dodgeball in 2013-14.  So it won’t come as a surprise to me when the Chippewas make huge strides next year.  No, this team isn’t as talented as their 2011 National Championship squad, but it should be the best CMU team in a few years.

 

6.  Kent Statekent-logo

2013-14 Record: 23-7

2014 National Tournament Finish: Lost to MSU in the Quarterfinals

Kent State might be replacing more key players than any other team in the nation next year.  Yet, I have Kent as the top team in the Ohio Region, and #6 team in the NCDA because of their consistency.  Sure, the Golden Flashes will be without several star players next year, but the strong teamwork and intensity that Kent always brings to the court will help them remain relevant in the NCDA in 2014-15.

 

7.  Ohio Stateosu-logo

2013-14 Record: 7-8

2014 National Tournament Finish: Lost to WKU in the first round

I was really tempted to rank Ohio State above Kent State as the top team in Ohio for 2014-15.  The Buckeyes will return many of their top players from last season.  OSU should be a much more experienced team next season, and if they play their best, they are a very dangerous opponent.  I have high hopes for OSU come next fall.

 

8.  Marylandumd-logo

2013-14 Record: 9-10

2014 National Tournament Finish: Lost to GVSU in the Quarterfinals

Fun fact about UMD’s first ever appearance at Nationals in 2014: the only team they lost to was eventual champion GVSU (twice).  Expect Maryland to have a breakout season in 2014-15.  This group, like many of the top ranked teams, will return the vast majority of their roster.  No, the Terrapins are not on the verge of a National Championship season in my opinion, bit they should take another step as a program next year and make a serious run at the national tournament.

 

9.  Towsontu-logo

2013-14 Record: 9-8

2014 National Tournament Finish: Lost to UMD in the first round

I’ll put Towson at #9 on my list, one place below their rival UMD.  The Tigers are a team with tremendous upside heading into the season.  I expect them to improve as a team and have double-digit wins heading into Nationals.  Towson’s 2014-15 campaign should be the best of their team’s 4 year existence.

 

10.  KentuckyKentucky-Logo

2013-14 Record: 6-7

2014 National Tournament Finish: Lost to SVSU in the Quarterfinals

Following two east coast rivals in the rankings, I’ll put two rivals from the Kentucky Region.  I don’t know how many of UK’s players will be returning next year.  The fact that they brought nine first year players to Nationals certainly bodes well for the future of this team.

 

11.  Western Kentuckywku-logo

2013-14 Record: 4-10

2014 National Tournament Finish: Lost to JMU in the Quarterfinals

WKU comes in below UK in my rankings by the slimmest of margins.  The impressive performance by the Hilltoppers at Nationals 2014, is just the type of momentum that will help them start next season strong.  While WKU only earned four victories last season, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they double that number in 2014-15.  Nationals will be held on WKU’s home court, which will give them a slight advantage when the season’s final tournament rolls around.

 

12.  Wisconsin Plattevilleuwp-logo

2013-14 Record: 7-5

2014 National Tournament Finish: Lost to MSU in the first round

Ranking UWP this low is probably a mistake, but not knowing how many of their players were returning, I had to rank both Kentucky schools ahead of them.  Believe me, Wisconsin Platteville can compete with the best teams in the NCDA.  They proved that several times last season with tight games against SVSU, MSU, and CMU.  If the majority of their top players return in 2014-15, then UWP will have a good shot at being a top 10 team.

 

13.  Bowling Green Statebgsu-logo

2013-14 Record: 3-13

2014 National Tournament Finish: Lost to JMU in the first round

The drop off from #12 UWP to #13 BGSU is pretty significant.  Still, I expect BGSU to be a far better team next year than what we saw in 2013-14.  If they can get a strong rookie class to build on the talent of their top players, then Bowling Green could be a much more competitive team this year.

 

14.  DePauldepaul-logo

2013-14 Record: 2-21

2014 National Tournament Finish: Lost to Kent in the first round

DePaul is another team that is a mystery to me in regards to the number of starters they have returning.  This team should still be good for #2 in the Illinois Region behind only Wisconsin Platteville.

 

15.  Miami (Oh)miami-logo

2013-14 Record: 0-13

2014 National Tournament Finish: Lost to SVSU in the first round

Don’t assume that Miami will go win-less again next year.  The RedHawks were much better than their 0-13 record showed last season.  I expect Miami to pick up a few wins in the first half of the season, possibly at their home event: the RedHawk Invite.

 

16.  Virginia Commonwealthvcu-logo

2013-14 Record: 0-6

2014 National Tournament Finish: Did not attend

VCU only competed in six games this past season and did not attend Nationals.  My hope for this team is that they get far more games scheduled in 2014-15, and possibly get a few victories along the way.

 

17.  Penn Statepsu-logo

2013-14 Record: 0-3

2014 National Tournament Finish: Did not attend

Another team that did not make the trip to Columbus for Nationals.  PSU showed some promise in the one event they competed in last fall.  They should give VCU some competition as the two lower level East Coast squads.

 

18.  North Texasunt-logo

2013-14 Record: 1-3

2014 National Tournament Finish: Did not attend

UNT is not a very well known team in the NCDA right now.  This group could get a few victories next season, depending on how many events they are able to attend.

 

19.  Northwestern Statensula-logo

2013-14 Record: 1-0

2014 National Tournament Finish: Did not attend

Technically NSULA was undefeated last season (1-0).  But missing out on Nationals was not an ideal situation.  With the season’s final event being held at Western Kentucky in 2015, I expect that NSULA will be able to make the trip.

 

20.  Nebraskaunl-logo

2013-14 Record: 1-2

2014 National Tournament Finish: Did not attend

Rounding out the top 20 is Nebraska.  This group struggled down the stretch last season and was not able to field a team for the national tournament in April.  If this team can bring in a good rookie class, then they should have a rebound season in 2014-15.

 

Author: Kevin Bailey

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

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