A Nationals Preview From Akron Alumni & Coach Adam Pfeifer

The moment we have been working/waiting for as players and staff and fans of the sport is finally upon us. NCDA Nationals 2023! Below will be some background on these matchups and why we want to see them happen as well as a small look into some of the teams attending nationals this year. Some of this WILL be played on Saturday or Sunday in bracket play.

University of Cincinnati

UC has been working hard for 5 seasons with a large number of their original members playing their last season in the NCDA. Along the way we have seen some very intense matchups that have built up quite the rivalry among the league in such a short time. Highlight match day 1 and receiving 58% in 2022 featured the number one seed The University of Cincinnati vs James Madison. I think UC underestimated JMU and lost their number one seed going into bracket play. They also match up this year in JMUs annual Beast tournament. This one came down to the wire and JMU came out on top once again in OT. I know both of these games are the ones that stick with you as a player on the losing end. These are both teams loaded with talented throwers and catchers and the league would love to see a revenge match or see if JMU can once again knock off the higher seeded UC team.

Next we have MSU with 33%. MDC champs vs the ODC champs. Arguably the best teams in their respective states going into nationals. MSU is still undefeated this season and UC would love to add another check to their resume and end that win-streak. They did meet up in the fall semester where UC did not look like the same team they have at any other match during the season. One thing we know is both these teams have a strong coaching staff that would and probably already have them ready for this matchup at nationals. If we don’t see it day one, this could end up being the championship match depending on how the rankings shake out.

Finally we have The Ohio state buckeyes in at 8%. UC took the game at the ODC this year but just a week later OSU found a way to beat them. With playing each other so often this season, these teams can almost tell you what the other is planning as the other moves up and down the court. Who would win this grudge match on Saturday or even Sunday and possible end the others season in the bracket?

Michigan State University

From many different this team received 66% and want to see MSU against OSU at nationals. These two teams have been in the league since its induction and have seen every score you can imagine. To include a 1-0 victory at Kent State for MSU back in the 2017 season. This match could be described to some as the veterans looking to make history with an undefeated season against this young team full of possible AA in the next three seasons. They matched up twice last year at nationals and at times were a lot closer that the score at the end of the match. Can MSU stick to their game and beat up on this young team or will we see the highlights OSU has provided all season and come out on top?

UC was also on their list with 25% and UCs coach does have ties to MSU being a former AA with their team. Their third with 8% is Penn State. This team is loaded with talent. Their biggest weapon is how deep their roaster goes. Another highlight reel team who took a point over MSU in under 1 min last year at nationals. They have pulled out many big victories this year and can argue they are now the big dogs on the east coast with their two wins over JMU this season. One thing is for sure, this would probably be the highest scoring game at nationals.

Ohio State University

As previously discussed, we have MSU and UC as matches we want to see for OSU. But we have more. Two more historically great teams from years past. OSU vs JMU would also be a high caliber matchup either day at nationals. Could this be a final eight or even final four matchup during bracket play. This could be a likely matchup that will happen and both teams will be playing their best dodgeball facing elimination. OSU will be very hungry but JMU is a different team at nationals that they are during the regular season. We could also see the largest 13th teammate for both these squads. JMU always travels well with family and friends but this years nationals will take place right outside OSU’s backyard. Who you got in this matchup?

But is their another? Which matchup would have possible the most momentum swings each point? The shift would go from thinking one team has a point back and forth with all the great catches we would witness. In earlier article for those who may not follow the sport as much as some, these teams are also BIG football rivals. In the past OSU has been the better team but this might be the best Penn State squad from top to bottom we have ever seen. This is a TOP want to see match at nationals.

University of Akron

Also previously mentioned in the same article and coming in at 66% we want to see Akron vs Grand Valley. Akron outside of Ohio has been very successful in their matches this season. This might also be the most experienced roaster they have ever had going into nationals.This may also be the youngest GVSU team we have ever seen at Nationals. Whats on the line in this game? Akron wants a real statement game at nationals. They have always under-performed on the last two days of the season and do not want this trend to continue. GVSU to my knowledge has never missed a final four at nationals and would need to secure this win to lock up a top seed and avoid the likes of MSU, UC or OSU early in bracket play. The loser of this game would make their run quite a bit harder in the round of 16 or 8. Next we have a tie with MSU and Penn State at 16%

Akron has shown they have the ability to make their opponents stop playing their style and cause confusion for the other team. They have also pulled off wins over teams most could not predict this season. In addition, the last time these teams meet up, Akron was able to come away with the win against both. MSU has not let any team change their style of play all season and would not want this match to be their first time and end in a loss.

Akron and Penn State met up once this season on Akron home court. They played very well all season on their home turf and were able to come out on top. Again, this is the only time Akron has bested this team in their four matchups. Did Penn State just have an off day, or does Akron have a system to control the big plays Penn has been able to make over other teams this season?

James Madison University

Their two most want to see matchups have been previously discussed but we have a third. Another Michigan team or someone else? No one other that the Home team at these nationals the Ohio University Bobcats. INTENSITYYYYY! These teams are full of electric, loud and passionate players on both sides. They also met up at this years Beast tournament and some might say, JMUs 13th teammate was a large factor in this one. It did give us one very cold highlight pointed right to the Dukes’ fans. This is the definition of a RED card probable game. We could see one for both teams in this matchup. Although JMU came out on top in their last match, OU has been working hard to clean up their play heading into nationals.

Grand Valley State University

This team has four want to see matchups at nationals. Who wouldn’t want a chance to knock off the defending nationals champions and not even a question most successful team in league history at nationals? Coming in with 33% is OSU. They met at Pink out earlier this season and GVSU came out on top. But this is not the same OSU team they faced. Both these teams have been taking the steps to improve over the course of the season. And oh yeah, GVSU also had an AA return to their roaster. I think this match would start out like a boxing match with both teams finding their range before the fireworks start. This would be one you wouldn’t want to miss. It would also have HUGE effects for the winner and the loser on day one.

Penn state comes in with 33% as well. They have met up twice this season, both on neutral courts with very different results. The first ended in a heart breaking OT loss for Penn and the second ended with GVSU on the losing end. This is probably a very even matchup on paper at nationals. One high flying team consistently looking for big plays with the other being slow and methodical waiting to find their openings.

Akron came in at 25 for GVSU voting.Interesting fact, since Akron has been in the league, GVSU has played them on day one at nationals every year except one. This was the only time GVSU did not come home with the cup. Could this be their lucky match to repeat nationals of the past?

The other team we want to see them play is UC with 8%. In their last matchup UC was able to get their first win over GVSU and don’t want to let GVSU get revenge. We have also seen a few other matches between them last season. At OU, UC had a one point lead with less than four minutes on the clock. GV was able top secure a catch and take that game into OT. GV came out on top and shut the door on that upset. This is also a final four matchup from nationals day two last year. GV came out hot to build a quick lead. UC tried to battle back late in the second half but ran out of steam and time. Even with the win in their last matchup, UC would love to beat GVSU again in the nationals spotlight.

Penn State University

Also having quite a few teams we want to see matches is Penn State. These teams have meet up numerous times over the past few seasons. One in particular really stands out. Before the start of the 2017 semester Penn state hosted an early spring tournament where these teams met up. Although i don’t think Penn State has anyone on their roaster who played in this game, OU does. This is one I am sure has stuck out. This was the year OU was starting to make waves in the league and really build a winning culture. How did it end? locked up at 3-3 and match went into OT. It was a back and forth OT which saw Penn State come out on top. This matchup could for sure see another OT to settle the score. Day two matchup of bracket play? It could end up being the best matchup of at nationals.

Finally we have BGSU with 8% of the votes. Two young and hungry teams waiting to make a splash at nationals. Both rely heavily on their big catching to win tough matchups. BGSU has been able to stay in quite a few hard games this season taking OSU and UC into OT. Penn State has done the same against UC and GVSU. Could we see a matchup filled with more clutch catching that successful throws? This is another matchup we saw twice last year at nationals. They split them with Penn State coming out on top in bracket play.

Ohio University

This team has some very young players who will be competing at a high level late into Sunday for the next few years, but also two of the most seasoned veterans in the league. They want to make a deep run this year. Penn State and the second team on their list is UNL with 41%. We go to see these teams matchup early last year in bracket play with OU coming out on top. But this was not your quiet round of 16 game. Both of these teams had a moment we thought they were going to get the win during game play. UNL wants to avenge that loss and we all want to see that game again. With both squads seeing highs and lows this season, who would you pick to come out on top?

JMU also came in at 16% on OUs list. Again, we would love to see this matchup!

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Although we have only seen this team play once outside their region, this is a talented and very skilled team. I think The War was a shock to them seeing so many different teams with a much different play-style. But who else do we want to see them play? Coming in at 66%(!) we have BGSU. This matchup sees two very good catching teams facing off. I don’t think these teams have ever matched up over the years but it would be one to watch. Could BGSU pull off the upset or would UNL show us they have been practicing hard and are ready to get their name back in the same conversation of a sleeper final four team like they were last year in their match against OSU?

Next we have another young teams whose matchup with UNL came to 8%. That is last years nationals hosting Western Michigan. Two different stories for these two in the spring semester. WMU has been moving up in the ranking and pulled off two upsets against SVSU. This would be a test match for WMU for sure. On paper this would seem to favor UNL by probably 2.5 but it would be and interesting matchup. Heading into nationals closely ranked it would significantly play a big role in their seed heading into bracket play.

University of Wisconsin-Platteville

Next we have another west coast team. And their matchup are perhaps the most wanted by some on their list than any mentioned above. Coming in at 41.7% is The University of Maryland. As much as we want to see this matchup, both of these teams want to play each other this season. Both of these teams have matchup against Akron at The War and both showed they can hang around with many teams when they are at their best. It also features two very league active coaches. They both have so much passion for the game and want to see their teams succeed. I think this one will come down to confidence. Which team believes when the numbers get low, they can finish the points and come out on top with the victory.

Second on their list come in with some more recent bad blood. The Saginaw Valley Cardinals came in at 33.3%. These two met up earlier this season and we were all lucky enough to see an exciting match down till the last second. OT was once again the deciding factor in this match. Many thought SVSU was going to carry their momentum closing out regulation and take the W. Fortunately for UWP, they stole it back and were able to best SVSU. Coming into nationals ranked 12th and 14th, this matchup would help one of these teams get away from facing a top 2 seed in the round of 16.

Another matchup we want to see would be UWP facing WMU. At almost 17 % I think this would be a very interesting matchup. WMU has been playing very well leading up to nationals and would love to add another name to the list of defeated schools this season. WMU has just broken into the top 10 before nationals and would love to keep their momentum going. This is still a very new and young team in the league. UWP has shown over the years to be a very tough opponent at nationals. Outside of their region they travel very far. The extra sleep may help them pull the upset with their more experienced roaster.

Saginaw Valley State University

The next team on our list has had some troubles this year and especially in the spring semester. Dropping two losses to WMU in which they were favored. But who else do people want to see them matchup with at nationals? Two teams come in at 41.7%. Those teams are BGSU and previously mentioned UWP. Lets look into the BGSU match. These two teams have been around the league for quite some time and seen many matchups. BGSU is located relatively close to some of the Michigan schools and usually makes their way north to go up against the top regions best teams early in the season. These teams are very different from previous ones. Both are very young and find themselves sitting outside the top 10 without a signature win this season.

The final team we would like to see face SVSU is the orange hot team UMD. UMD finished the season 3-2 with their only loses coming to JMU and Akron. They feel like they were able to compete in both these games but they struggled with last minute wins over Miami of Ohio and Cleveland State. You have to wonder which team would show up against SVSU. Because SVSU will take advantage if the Terps come in and think this is an automatic W. This is the same SVSU team who too OSU into overtime on day 2 in the round of 16. They can turn it on and make numerous catches when they need to.

For our next school we have Bowling Green. Half of our responses want to see this young group take on UNL and they would love the chance at pulling that upset. Again, this would be catch central!

Bowling Green State University

Western Michigan come in second at 33.3% of all votes. People want to give this team a chance to prove themselves and finish off a higher rankled team. No more mortal victories with taking a point or taking a high ranked team into OT. Although This is no juggernaut team in WMU, they have done what they needed to do to secure a top 10 spot and this would still be a big win for BGSU on Saturday or Sunday depending on how the ranking work themselves out.

University of Maryland

Our third East coast team on the list is The University of Maryland. They have looked very competitive in some matches and other have looked relaxed and willing to give away the win. Their first we want to see game would be another matchup with Miami of Ohio. Although the Terps came out on top in their last meeting at the War, it came down to a last second decision not to step out of bounds with the score tied up 2-2. There was less than 5 minutes left in regulation. If UMD wants to repeat this outcome they need to keep their foot on the gas against Miami. But will Miami be the same team come nationals?

We would also like to see matches for them against previously discussed, UWP and SVSU. We know Both UWP and UMD want this to happen. But there is a forth. This young team is receiving a lot of love and apparently people want to watch them play WMU! Both of these teams have some very active members who have faced off against each other outside of the NCDA. UMD players were able to get the wins in all these matchups. They will see each other in the coming year in and out of the NCDA. So with both the teams on the rise, who would come out on top in our 12 v 12 format?

Miami University

We have another Ohio team on the list. This team seemed to making great strides to end the 2022 season and we have seen glimpses in the 2023 season. They seem to be a first half team that really makes their opponents work for the win. There are three teams we want to see them play to end 2023. UMD came up at 50% and I am sure this came from their exciting match less than two months ago at the war. I think Miami has the arms to win this match but they can’t let Maryland catch them sleeping again in the closing of the match.

With 33.3%, you guessed it, WMU. Another two teams with a pretty similar roaster in terms of dodgeball experience in the league. Sitting just one point ahead in the championship points ranking, but Miami has played more matches. And both are probably very close in their strength of schedule. They sit pretty close in the conversation of middle teams in their respective states percentage wise with Ohio have eight active schools. This would be a very exciting matchup. This Miami roaster was going blow for blow against UNL last year at nationals and took a point over the national champions GVSU day one. This one could also be a potential OT game that would be very exciting to watch.

Finally for Miami we have UNL. National ranking says UNL should beat Miami pretty easily. But, that what we thought last year. If Miami can come out hot in the first half and control the pace of the game this could be the upset of the day. These teams also matched up in 2018 Nationals twice. Both these teams were on opposite ends of ranking going in. UNL was unheard of making their first appearance outside their region. Saturday saw a 4-1 victory for Miami, but UNL made them work on day two. This one came down to the wire again with Miami trailing in the second half. Miami was able to overcome this and pull out the comeback to win 3-2. Would Miami be able to give us exciting match in the brackets like the UNL v OU game from last year or even pull off the upset? Ill tell you top seeded UNL would love to be on the other end of that bracket result this time around.

Western Michigan University

We have finally reached our most popular team on this list. Western Michigan. We have discussed these matchups between Miami, BGSU and UWP who ended up on their list for voting. Can we just all agree any match involving this team would be exciting. As the newest Michigan team in the league, we want to see if they can carry on the dominance of Michigan in the league and become a household name when they attend a tournament. This team hopes to continue their trend. Just remember good teams win, but great teams cover the spread!

University of Virginia

UVA is a team most people involved with the league have not been able to witness play in person in quite some time. They do have a few interesting want to see matches due in part to previous matchups. Coming in first is Kent State with 50%. Some of you may not know this but UVAs founding father was a former Kent State Alumni. Shout out to all those Alumni who have stayed active to help support new and existing teams and keep the league growing and getting more competitive. Who would he root for in this matchup. His OG team or the team he helped start. Although I don’t think there are any active players on either roaster from that time it is still an exciting x-factor to this matchup. These two have also struggled to get into the win column many times this season. Sitting at 17 and 18 going into nationals, this would have a large impact to both of their ranks going into day two.

This team’s second most match we want to see is against Cleveland State. CSU received 25% of the total votes against UVA. I don’t know if these teams have matched up in the past and have never meet up at nationals since both have come into the league. Both have seen some success and both have matched up this year against UMD. UVA is 0-3 against UMD being outscored 10-4. But they did keep it close in one match losing a close one in a 2-1 loss early in the season. CSU on the other hand had the lead on UMD but was not able top hold them off in regulation heading into OT. CSU also fell to UMD 4-3. Both of these teams have victories this season , but are still seeing the loss to their roaster from COVID. I think a close match and possible OT could out of this game. CSU does have significantly more matches played and have travel quite a bit more to compete. Would that season experience help them squeak out a win?

The next school is not one mentioned on this list yet. Norther Georgia. They have not been talked about much this season due to an almost total rebuild. But these teams did match up in the past. And let me tell you it was one probably one of the most competitive games of the day at VCU nationals. So much so, the game ended in a 2-1 victory for UVA. It will be very interesting to see how UNG is able to compete at nationals this year. Coming in at 17 and 20 nationally ranked, there could be a nice jump for UVA if they were able to win this matchup. UNG is also much higher in the Gonzalez rating Recuse they have not had the opportunity to play yet this season.

Kent State University

The Kent state Golden Flashes. This is almost a whole new team to the league. They have a few veterans from before COVID who have stuck around to join, but for the most part they are very inexperienced. UVA is first on their list at 41.7%. for the reasons stated above we would love to see which young team would come out victorious.

The next team we want to see them play is 2 schools splitting the rest of the votes with just over 29% is UNG and Concordia-Wisconsin. Both of these would be solid matchups against KSU. We have all heard that CUW has some very athletic players on their team and will only get better the more they play. KSU showed they can run up the score when they are the better team on the court and score in bunches. With these three teams being closer on the rankings heading into nationals, KSU would have a nice shot at breaking into the top 16 with wins against these teams. The league as a whole would love to see strides made at this nationals for KSU to return as a top Ohio team in the future once again.

Cleveland State University

The final Ohio school on our list is Cleveland State University. CSU is another program that has had an upsetting season up to this point. They have had traveling issued with most of their roaster in attendance but they have been able to play. And play a lot! Second most games played in the league behind OSU. Playing against other teams will only make you better and this experience will only help the team and players themselves moving forward. We want to see them play CUW! 50% of the votes are in for this matchup. Although CSU won 7-0 in their matchup in the fall semester, CUW was at their first ever tournament and has had 5 month to work on their skills and improve as a team. Will experience win it for CSU or will CUW get their first win in the league?

Two other schools received votes for matchups against CSU. UVA as previously mentioned and UMD. In their last match, CSU probably looked the best they have all year. For about 40 minutes that is. They were working together as a team and controlling the pace of the game. It would be an exciting game to watch if CSU can perform the same and possible pull out the win this time. UMD would look to win this one big and show last time was a fluke.

University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky is other team that is still feeling the after COVID dodgeball life. This team has struggled to enter a tournament with a full roaster on the court much less any subs. But they have a few very skilled players who have helped them compete regardless of what the scores of these have shown. Another team looking for their first win of the year heading into nationals. Three teams received votes to match up against UK.

CUW, UVA and UNG. Of all the teams attending nationals this year, I believe these are the best three shots UK would have at securing a win. Lets not forget, this UK team, with only 8 players managed to score points on Akron, BGSU and SVSU last year on day one at nationals. In addition they had Akron down to 4 players with the score 2-1 in favor of Akron and threatened an overtime in the first set of matches. Any one up against this team, do not think they won’t put up a fight. Hopefully along with other teams mentioned, UK can get some momentum in Athens moving into next season.

Concordia University-Wisconsin

We would like to see this team play! And play anyone. As the newest team heading into this years nationals, we would enjoy seeing what they have moving into the future. One of two teams located closer to UNL and UWP. A four team tournament in that region would be a huge step moving forward. But the teams we want to see them matchup against this year are, UVA with 41%, UNG and CSU tied with just over 29% of the votes. A little revenge may be in order against CSU. But what about UVA and UNG?

UVA has more experience but I doubt anyone on the UVA roaster could point out one player by name on CUW and what they are for their team. This uncertainty against a new opponent could favor either one of these teams. UNG in the same argument. Who is on their roaster? Are they a catching or throw heavy team? I personally would love to see UNG v CUW because one of these teams would come out with a W at nationals. The last newly added team to the league, The University of Central Florida showed up and got their first win at VCU. Will history repeat itself?

University of North Georgia

The last team on this list for games we want to see attending nationals is the University of Northern Georgia. No one but maybe a few alumni know anything about this team. The last time they attended nationals, they walked onto the court with a South region MVP and a group of very athletic teammates to join. Will they come in and shock the league with some crazy play? The odds say no, but its great to have them back in the league competing. We would like to see them match up against CUW, UK and UVA at nationals.


Finally, I wanted to talk briefly about three other teams. Sadly, these teams are not able to attend nationals 2023. Central Michigan, Towson and University of Illinois Chicago. Two former Nationals champions and one brand new team. We did see all three of these teams active during the current season. UIUC is brand new to the league and we are happy to see even more growth in the West and in the league. With another team closer to UNL and UWP they should have more chances to compete in the future. When it comes to CMU and Towson, we all hope they can come back next season and continue their growth heading into the future. We want to see Towson compete against JMU and Penn State in the east coast. Get that argument going again for them to be the best region in college dodgeball. As far as CMU, there were some who hated seeing them and GVSU play for the cup every single year but this was excitement when it came to college dodgeball. You had some of the best players to ever step on the court come from CMU and we hope to see them return to that once again.

We all hope to see some of these matchups happen but the real truth is, the league has worked very hard the past two years coming out of COVID and we are all ready for next weekend and to see all the matchups happen. Lets hope for another Catch heard around the world!

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