The 2015-16 NCDA season is still many months away, but it’s never too early to talk about dodgeball. While their won’t be a single match played for roughly four more months, I have still decided to give my thoughts on where teams stand heading into the new year of dodgeball. Here is my way too early top 20 for 2015-16:
GVSU comes in at #1 on my list but I may be a bit biased as I am a member of this team. To be fair, it is hard for anyone to pick against a team that has amassed an 85-4 record over the past three seasons, each of which ended with a national title.
GVSU will have a strong core to build around for next year with Captain Kevin Bailey, and Assistant Captains Aaron Terenzi and Austin Morley. The Lakers also will bring back Anthony Incrocci who emerged as one of the best catchers in the league at Nationals, and a sophomore class filled with talent and potential. Overall, GVSU’s loses five starters from last season.
CMU gets the nod at #2 on my list for a few reasons. This group plays smart, organized dodgeball, which is something that can go a long way in the NCDA. The Chippewas improved dramatically last season, and they bring back the majority of their starters.
Central had three players earn 1st-Team All American honors last season. Two of those players (Wes Peters and Brett Hadwin) are no longer on the roster. For most schools, losing two All-Americans would be devastating to their future success, but CMU will do just fine if you ask me. If I had to choose right now, I would predict another GVSU vs. CMU final at next year’s Nationals.
JMU will look much different next fall. The Dukes lose two All-Americans in Brent Gromer and Joey Carrdella, not to mention many other seniors that played in their final college dodgeball game at Nationals 2015. Despite having so many holes to fill, I believe JMU will still be a force to be reckoned with.
Brent Gromer beat me to the punch when he spoke out about the bright futures that a few particular JMU players have in this league (Tanner Weaver and Doug Schilling). I’ll take it a step further and predict both of them will end up on the 2016 All-American Team, but they won’t be the only JMU players excelling on the court next season. The Dukes are still loaded with talented athletes, so 2015-16 won’t be a rebuilding year by any means.
Overall, I don’t expect Captain Ben Sizemore to let his team slip from their throne atop the East Coast region. Will JMU finally get over the hump and win it all next year? Only time will tell.
Michigan State’s streak of consecutive Final Four Appearances came screeching to a halt in April when SVSU pulled the quarterfinals upset over the Spartans. While MSU didn’t go as far in the NCDA tournament as in years past, I still think that the 2014-15 MSU squad was one of the best they’ve ever had.
Colin O’Brien, Alex Zajac, Noe Galaviz, Kameron Caldwell, the list goes on and on. This team has some serious talent returning. Not to mention they will add former CMU captain Wes Peters next fall. I fully expect MSU to return to the Final Four in 2016.
I’m told Ohio State will only be losing three seniors going into the 2015-16 season. That is awesome news for the Buckeyes, and terrible news for the rest of the league. Ohio State might have struggled on day two of Nationals and suffered an early exit once again, but the Buckeyes had a quality season in 2014-15. Led by Captain Josh Conner, the Buckeyes have returned to relevance in the NCDA, and I have a feeling next season will be a breakout year for them.
OSU has much better arms than people may give them credit for, and when they are playing their game they are very difficult to beat. The Buckeyes will likely be the top team in Ohio again next year, and they will be in good position to make a final four run come next April.
All aboard the Towson bandwagon! Yeah, I just put the Tigers one spot away from being a top-five NCDA team heading into next season, and you can’t blame me for it. This team is coming off the most successful two-day stretch in program history that involved several close games against Michigan schools, an extremely impressive win over BGSU, and of course one of the biggest upsets of Nationals 2015 when they took down heavily favored Ohio State in bracket play.
Credit the leaders of this team for getting them to where they are as an NCDA team. Sure TU took a giant step forward at Nationals this spring, but they have a long way to go in order to be considered an elite NCDA team. If they continue to improve the way that they have been, it could happen sooner than expected. Towson was one of the most enjoyable teams to watch at Nationals, and I can’t wait to see how they compete next year.
Ranking SVSU this low could end up being the biggest mistake on this list for me, but as of right now that is where they stand. SVSU will have to replace a few key players from last year’s squad. If the Cardinals are able to reload as well as they usually do, then they will end up much better than seventh in the NCDA.
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned about SVSU in the past, it is to never count them out. Saginaw went 0-4 at a tournament in late March then came back a few weeks later and stormed their way to a Final Four appearance before losing in a tight game against GVSU. The fact of the matter is: when Saginaw is playing well, they are a tough matchup for any team in this league.
Maryland had one of the more disappointing performances at Nationals of the sixteen teams in attendance, but I won’t count them out completely. Despite not having any big victories at Nationals, UMD did show flashes of greatness.
Maryland enters 2015-16 at #8 on my list and #3 in the East, but trust me they have the ability to finish much higher if they can perform well. UMD Captain Rohan Mittal is one of the top arms in the NCDA, and he is backed by a group of players that do a great job of controlling the pace of the game. UMD is certainly not a dominant NCDA team just yet, but they have the ability to compete with anyone in the league.
UK was easily one of the pleasant surprises of Nationals 2015. The Wildcats not only pulled a day-2 upset over Maryland, they also had a tie game going into halftime against GVSU. Kentucky undoubtedly proved to me that their team has a lot of fight, and I assume they will carry over the momentum from Nationals into next season as they look to get back to being an elite NCDA team like they were in 2012-2013.
Kent State grabs the last spot in my top ten for a few reasons. First of all, The Golden Flashes always seem to bring their A-game when they play tough opponents. Also, last season was a bit of a rebuilding year for Kent, but they were still able to maintain their team cohesion on the court.
Kent State is one of the more dangerous teams to play against in the NCDA because they are very good at building off their own momentum and taking over the pace of the game. If Kent State’s younger players from 2014-15 can improve, I expect this team to be much more competitive next season.
Rounding out my top 20:
- Bowling Green State
- Penn State
- Wisconsin Platteville
- Western Kentucky
- Virginia Commonwealth
- Baldwin Wallace
- North Texas