Written by BGSU’s Adam Hynes
Even with the NCDA not having conferences or anything we still have each team placed into a category according to where the teams are located; this obviously being the regions. In no particular order we have the Ohio, East Coast, Illinois, Michigan, and Kentucky regions. These regions have their top teams, middle teams and low tier teams as any other league with conferences would have. With there being so much talent spread throughout the league and schools being spread apart it can be very difficult to say who the top region truly is. With Nationals coming this week, and the exciting pool play games on Saturday, it will be a good indication of who the true top region is. In this article I wanted to say what each region must do in order to stack up against every one and say that their region is the true top dog.
Michigan is arguably the best region in the NCDA with having three of the top five best teams in the country in their region. This region will be sending GVSU, CMU, MSU and SVSU. Each team has great opponents coming their way on Saturday however I believe the games to watch for the Michigan schools are: CMU vs. UMD and SVSU vs. JMU. Looking at the schedule for GVSU I don’t believe they will have a challenge all day on Saturday and will be looking to save their arms for Sunday and for MSU I believe their games will be fun to watch however I believe they have too much talent to be taken down by any of their opponents on Saturday. For CMU they are currently ranked 2nd in the country have a big challenge going up against UMD. CMU is looking to prove they are the best team in the country and beating UMD will prove so. To be the best you must beat the best and CMU has beaten GVSU too. I believe that CMU will be riding their momentum from the CMU showdown to help aid in any game on Saturday. For SVSU they will have a tough challenge going up against an extremely athletic JMU with all of their hard throwers. I believe SVSU will have to use more of defensive mindset going up against JMU and go more for catches and ball control. Once JMU has ball control they are extremely difficult to take down since it seems like their whole team can throw above 55mph. With a combine total of 12 games for the Michigan region I believe they will take 11 of them with JMU def. SVSU 2-1. Don’t get me wrong, that will be a tightly contested game until the end but with JMU already have beaten SVSU I have to lean more towards JMU in this game.
East Coast Region
As everyone knows the east coast schools have a difficult time traveling to other schools to play more games so they play each other a great number of times. This year of Nationals the East Coast will be sending five schools including: JMU, Towson, Maryland, VCU and Penn State. Out of all of these games for the East Coast I believe the most challenging ones are: UMD plays Ohio State and CMU, Towson vs BGSU and JMU vs Ohio State. JMU will be leading the pack for wins for the East Coast so it will be interesting to see how the rest of the East Coast can help JMU prove they are a tough region. UMD has great arms and coordination when playing at their best so in order to get passed Ohio State they will needed to focus on their coordination more anything else and with playing CMU it will be a battle for catches. UMD has the arms to match up against CMU but can they keep up with their catching game? JMU has Ohio State again and they previously matched up at Kentucky with JMU winning 3-1. The first point at the Kentucky invite for that game went JMU’s way very easily with JMU showing their strength in the number of throwers they had. However the second point Ohio state was able to maintain ball control and fight back with their top throwers leading the way. If JMU wants to win this game they will maintain ball control throughout the entire game and slowly pick apart OSU. They have the arms to do so and plenty of power. Towson and BGSU are a pair of teams that are very similar in terms of strengths. Both teams can keep up with their respective top school in the state (JMU and OSU) but have trouble getting by them. If Towson wants to win this game to help prove the East Coast is a power region they will have to come out early and fast with energy against BGSU and maintain ball control the entire game. They will have to play their “A” game against an opponent that is very similar to them. The top end of their performers will lead the way and the back end will need to help out the best they can to secure the win. Penn State and VCU are the back end of the East Coast squad coming and looking at their games they will have a tough challenge coming their way. If anything the experience will be the best thing they will receive and learn how to grow as a team. Out of the 15 games the East Coast has I believe they will win six games with the closest games coming from TU vs BGSU and UMD vs OSU. These games are so close that they could go either way but for my team since I have not seen Towson play in person I have to lean more towards them just for the “element of surprise” so to speak. So for these two games my prediction will be TU def. BGSU 2-1 OT and UMD def. OSU 2-1 OT as well. If these two Maryland schools can beat the two Ohio schools it will be without a doubt they can back up the statement that the East Coast is the second best region.
The Kentucky region is only having two teams there with that being the host school of Western Kentucky and University of Kentucky. Both teams have some interesting match ups this year at Nationals but I believe these are the best games to watch regarding the Kentucky region: UK vs MSU and WKU vs. DePaul. I believe these are going to be the games to watch for that MSU is going to be a tough match up against any team on Saturday and Sunday. UK has plenty of arms to go along with a stellar catching group. At the Kentucky invite against my team of BGSU we took the first point with much ease however the second point and third point Kentucky’s catching game was at an all-time high. They made 12 team catches against us to go along with their 7 catches to help secure the 2-1 win over us. I truly believe Kentucky can catch just as well as MSU can and it shall be a great game to watch. I have not seen DePaul play this year but I have heard good things about them and I have played against WKU and they will have a full roster to go against every opponent at Nationals this year. WKU is an underrated catching team, their captains can catch extremely well and so can some of their back end players too. What they do lack are strong arms on their team from I have seen. They do have that power thrower who can aid extremely well in team throws. For WKU to win this game they will need to find that power thrower and lean heavily on their catching game to swing the game in their favor. The Kentucky region has six games total and my prediction for them is that they will win only two games. Both teams get to play VCU and those should be good quality wins for both teams. MSU has more experience playing tougher teams on a regular basis so I think that will give them an advantage over UK with MSU def. UK 3-1 and DePaul can catch just as well WKU. If DePaul plays a serious match for 50 minutes this will be a closer match than people may think. I give DePaul an edge in this one 2-1.
This year of Nationals the Illinois region will be represented by UWP and DePaul. This is where my knowledge of these comes into play as me not knowing much about that at all besides watching YouTube videos and word-of-mouth things too. Both teams will have some challenging matches going to into Nationals this year but the ones I believe that will prove the region’s strength are: UWP vs. BGSU and DePaul vs. WKU. After watching videos of both teams I can say that UWP has a lot of good arms that the league doesn’t know much about. They have about five or six good arms that when combined will make excellent team throws. DePaul in my opinion like stated previously is a much underrated catching team. I would not say that are as good as a CMU or GVSU but they can hold their own with any team when playing competitively. For these games UWP can be dangerous if they have ball control with their strong arms but it seems they lack coordination and throw alone a good majority of the time. For this reason I believe BGSU def. UWP 2-1 but it will be a good match to watch no matter what. I see DePaul pulling out the victory in this against WKU for their good catching abilities who I believe catch a little bit better than WKU can. I predict DePaul def. WKU 2-1. Out of the six games the Illinois region has I predict they will win two games. The Illinois has a lot to prove at Nationals as it seems that the league believes they are still the weakest region in the NCDA.
The Ohio region has three teams representing at Nationals and the teams are Ohio State, Kent State and Bowling Green State University. The Ohio region has the hardest schedule of games at Nationals this year collectively with both Ohio State and Kent State both playing two games with teams in the top five of the country and with BGSU being credited the most fair schedule talent level wise. Since the Ohio region has so many games that can be considered close and highly contested it is hard to say which ones will be the most important ones for that all of the games will be important for the state of Ohio to prove they are a powerhouse region like the East Coast or Michigan. The best games to watch will be: OSU vs. UMD, Kent vs. MSU and Towson vs. BGSU. Ohio State has a great team combined with hard throwers and above average catching level to compete with the top five of the country. They will need their captains to step up develop a game plan against each team to prove they are a top five school. Playing against UMD they match up extremely well with throwers and catchers so it will be fun to watch them play. Even with Kent State having a “down year” this team can still compete with anyone in the country. Kent State still has power throwers with a catching ability that in my opinion is as good as MSU. These two teams will be very exciting to watch as they match up well with catching level. Towson and BGSU are the most overlooked teams in the country. Both of these teams can compete as Towson has taken UMD in overtime more than once with UMD being a top five team in the country. BGSU has played Ohio State very competitive this past year keeping the game close throughout the whole match. BGSU has had a night and day improvement from last season to this season by having a slightly better record and winning the Ohio Dodgeball Cup too as well. BGSU will be sending a team that is mainly 1st year NCDA players that have made a huge contribution to the team. It will be very interesting to see how the Ohio region handles the pressure of having the hardest schedule. If the Ohio teams can beat the east coast schools, it would then bring up the question of who is the true second best region in the country. JMU will likely go undefeated in pool play but can their neighboring schools help out JMU in solidifying that the east coast is the second best region?
I am beyond excited to play at Nationals this year for that there are so many games to watch and amazing matches that will be played. The talent level for each match is even and the atmosphere will be electric the entire weekend. So many storylines to follow too: will GVSU win their third title in a row? Will CMU shock the world and take the title like they did four years ago at this very stage? Will JMU be able to take the title away from a Michigan school? How many upsets will there be on Saturday? Will any small schools make a name for themselves? Who is the strongest region in the NCDA? Only time will tell this coming weekend. And like most people who are going this weekend to Bowling Green, Kentucky I’m sure I can speak for you too in saying: “Can’t Wait”.
Final Four Predictions
GVSU vs CMU
CMU def. GVSU 3-2 OT