In the spirit of March Madness, and with Nationals 2018 approaching soon, myself and other members of the content team have decided to put together some of our bold predictions for Nationals 2018. While Nationals has traditionally been dominated by a select few teams, there is a lot of reason to believe this year could be different with one of the largest and most talented fields in league history. I’ve provided each member’s predictions, as well as my personal brief summary of their predictions. Some predictions are bold, some are not, and others are just downright foolish…or so it seems. Let’s have a look.
GVSU Gets Bounced in the Final Four
I’m probably crazy for this pick, but hear me out. Right now the Lakers are the #2 overall seed if tournament play starts today. It is also not out of the question that JMU or Towson will be the 3 seed at this point in time. Both those teams I think have the best chance to put up a fight against the Lakers, enough so to pull off the upset. We even saw evidence of this at JMU’s BEAST VII. For sure there are a lot of moving pieces in this prediction, but nothing that is improbable.
The 11 Seed Will Make the Final Four
The last time we had an 11 seed upset a 6 seed was at Nationals 2015 when Towson upset Ohio State. For me to believe that an 11 seed will somehow make the Final Four now makes me seem senile, but again, I’ll try to defend my point. As it stands, the current 11-6 matchup is slated to be UNG v JMU. Based on my above prediction, I don’t think this is likely to stay that way, at least in JMU’s case. Right now MSU, UWP, UNG, VCU, Ohio, and PSU are in a tight race for the 9-14 spots. My belief is that MSU, VCU, Ohio, and PSU are the most likely teams to secure an 11 seed and here are my brief thoughts on each:
MSU – benefits from a tough regular season and winning culture
VCU – benefits from playing at home
Ohio – has strong catchers and doesn’t rely on a few players
PSU – arguably the most talented team overall from this group
Should one of these teams place themselves at 11, keep an eye out on that matchup.
Kent State Makes the Final Four
Not the most unbelievable thing. The Golden Flashes currently rest as the #4 team in the country thanks to their dominance over the Ohio Region. They seemed to turn the corner after their ODC championship, and look to be clear favorites to win out against the rest of their opponents in Ohio for the remainder of the regular season. Kent State has hit a wall at the Elite Eight the past couple years, most notably with a tough loss last year to SVSU. However, with an almost identical roster to last year’s team and more experience, they have championship contender written all over them.
CMU Wins the National Championship
Another meh “bold” prediction (just playing Colby). In all seriousness though, I talked about a wall with Kent above, with CMU it’s more of a wall that is covered in poison-tipped spikes, as tall as Mount Everest, and would certainly impress President Trump. The 3-time reigning runner-ups look more complete this year than last year, however. At 19-1 and an almost certain lock as the 1-2 seed for Nationals, they are in a great position to get their second ever championship.
UNG Goes 3-0 on Saturday
Finally, a fun prediction. The Nighthawks have been consistently dominant over their South Region opponents, posting a stellar 8-0 record for the season while outscoring opponents 61-2 (oh my goodness). On paper that’s astonishing and certainly shouldn’t take away anything from them. A 3-0 record on Saturday at Nationals could even bump up UNG to the #9 spot given the right opponents, which would arguably be one of the highest seeds of a second-year program in the NCDA’s modern day history (JMU was 3-seed in their 2nd year). While I won’t rule out the possibility, they will need a lot of favors in their scheduling to get this done, let’s just wait and see.
GVSU Loses One Game on Saturday
To qualify the President’s statement, here are the teams I think have the best chance of beating GVSU in order:
That’s a lot more teams than we’ve had in year’s past who could topple a titan like GVSU, and not nearly as far-fetched. A CMU victory wouldn’t be too surprising (though I doubt they’ll play each other), but a Towson win would do the trick and would almost guarantee a 3-seed if they can do it. I have SVSU and Kent lower on the list given that each have faced pretty significant losses, but they’re still here because there’s always a chance. A loss for GVSU to any team outside this list would be comparable to UVA basketball’s defeat to UMBC.
Kent Makes the National Championship
CTRL + V from Colby Briceland’s prediction.
OSU Plays Two OT Games on Saturday
Neat idea. Is it possible? Sure. The Buckeyes have played in four OT’s over the past two seasons, and would tie Penn State’s two OT record (maybe?) from Nationals 2017.
Championship will be at least a 3-Point Victory
Thanks to the reliable record keeping of Zigmas Maloni, here’s a rundown of the championship games from each Nationals since 2011:
2011 – CMU def GVSU 2-1 (And thus, Wes Peters was born)
2012 – SVSU def UK 4-0 (And thus, Wes Hopkins birthed the fastest arm competition)
2013 – GVSU def MSU 3-0 (Fun fact, GVSU and MSU were the 6 and 5 seeds)
2014 – GVSU def SVSU 3-2 (Kevin Bailey begins his MVP reign)
2015 – GVSU def CMU 2-0 (37 and won, seriously, GVSU went 37-1)
2016 – GVSU def CMU 1-0 (Kurtis DeYoung! Kurtis DeYoung! Kurtis DeYoung!)
2017 – GVSU def CMU 2-1 (#5Peat)
So we haven’t seen a 3-point lead at Nationals since 2013, what makes Kevin confident now? The world may never know.
Sunday Will have the Most Upsets of any Nationals
Big if true. There were six “upsets” during Nationals 2013 bracket play which looks to be the current record. I use the term upsets loosely though, because that season teams were ranked based on NHL points (2 for wins, 1 for OT loss, 0 for normal loss) which basically only favored teams that played a ton of games, regardless of overall record or level of competition. With a potential 26 team bracket this season and a truly deep field, this is certainly not out of the question, though it will be difficult to see seven upsets unless a low seed makes a deep run.
Miami Goes 3-0 Saturday
The Redhawks have been a pleasant surprise this year. They are currently 9-7 overall, and even won their home tournament back in November. This would be an exciting prediction, and I think people are gonna like what they see out of Tom Morand and Dominic Tyburski.
UNG Gets Two Wins on Sunday
I like it. UNG has some solid players on their squad, and I talked about their dominance thus far in an earlier paragraph. The biggest question will be can their arms keep up with them over the course of the weekend. This was an issue for them during Sunday play last year. If they have built up some endurance, I could see it happening with some favorable matchups.
MSU Makes the Final Four
While this has certainly been a rebuilding year for the Spartans, they have arguably played the toughest schedule out of any team in the country. This includes multiple games against #1-4 GVSU, CMU, SVSU, and Kent, along with two tough losses against #7 BGSU. The tough level of competition can only make them better, and may make teams feel more confident against MSU than they should be.
UNG Will Make the Quarterfinals
Let’s keep the UNG train rolling! So far we’ve got: 3-0 on Saturday, two wins on Sunday, and now, a quarterfinal projection. Depending on where they’re seeded, this falls in line closely with Dylan’s prediction. If they maintained their 11 seed they would most likely make it to the second round after playing the 22 seed. After that would be a matchup with the 6 seed which is currently JMU…oh no.
Only Two Michigan Teams Make the Final Four
Now I’m not a betting boy, but if I had to guess which two teams Leski has making it, it’ll be GVSU and CMU. That leaves MSU and SVSU out of the picture. With MSU it’s understandable given their down year, but SVSU has been on the rise after an impressive showing at the War. The biggest question for them is seeing if they can avoid the injury bug. They rely pretty heavily on a few players to make a majority of their throws this year, so if they have Final Four aspirations they will need some more help from their support players.
BGSU Will Make the Final Four
This is probably one of the better bold predictions on the list. The Falcons have had some big highs, and some big lows this season. As of right now, they are the 7 seed for Nationals which means should they make it to the quarterfinals they are likely to face off against either CMU or GVSU, depending on who gets the 2 seed. BGSU had a strong performance against CMU earlier in the year so it’s not unthinkable for them to pull off the win here.
UWP Makes it to the Elite Eight
The Pioneers have some big expectations it seems per their leader’s predictions. They are currently ranked #9 and are 10-6 this season. The tough thing to figure out with this team is how they will fare against evenly ranked competition. All their wins this year have come against DePaul, UNL, and SIUe, none of which are in the top 25, but they have been convincing wins. On the other hand, their losses have been less than close and against the current top 3 teams (GVSU, CMU, SVSU). So there’s a giant question mark on how they’d do against every team between. This is why we love Nationals.
SVSU Gets Bounced in the Elite Eight
For the Cardinals the key is going to be making sure they secure a top 6 seed. Should they do that, it should be another Final Four run for them. However, if they fall to the 7 or 8 seed that will be a big issue because they would likely play GVSU and CMU in the Elite Eight. With the 3-7 seeds being so close, one or two losses Saturday could seal their fate.
SVSU Loses Two Games Saturday
Jeez Erik…don’t poke the bear. Well, I guess this is bold predictions for a reason. The teams I think have the best chance of defeating SVSU are GVSU, CMU, Towson, JMU, and BGSU. It is likely they could play one of the latter three teams Saturday, but assuming SVSU is at full strength I don’t see them losing twice.
Nebraska Wins Two Games Saturday
First off, can we acknowledge that the University of Nebraska is travelling all the way to Richmond, VA to play dodgeball. Mad props for that. Now as far as the prediction goes, I haven’t had a chance to sit down and watch a ton of film on these guys. From what I have seen, I wouldn’t rule out a win or two. The teams I think they’ll match up best with are GSU, UCF, and NSULA. As with many of the above predictions, a favorable schedule is the key.