Tournament Recap + Big Picture Outlook following the 2024 MDC

Michigan State holds up three fingers after capturing their third-consecutive Michigan Dodgeball Cup title. PC: Kris Haas

EAST LANSING, MI – Michigan State University was victorious on Saturday at the Michigan Dodgeball Cup (MDC), earning their third consecutive title at the annual event. The Spartans rolled through their early opponents, beating Central Michigan (6-0 win), Western Michigan (6-0 win), and Saginaw Valley State (6-0 win), before a clash with Grand Valley State (3-2 win).

With the 4-0 record on the day, MSU moved to 17-2 on the season, and 5-2 against Top-10 opponents. The Spartans maintained control of the Michigan Region, winning their third-straight MDC Title as mentioned above, and they firmly positioned themselves as serious National Title contenders. All-in-all, a solid weekend for those in East Lansing.

For the other schools in attendance at MDC, it was a bit more of a mixed bag. Central Michigan (0-4 at MDC) wasn’t able to secure a victory at the event, but had some bright spots, including a near comeback against WMU. While we’re on WMU, the Broncos didn’t have their best day, losing a close match to SVSU and finishing 1-3 overall. Saginaw Valley State picked up the key win over Western to stay at the 3-spot in the region, but otherwise had a subpar day, unable to truly hang with the ‘Big Two’ in Michigan. Lastly, Grand Valley State failed to hang on to a halftime lead against MSU for a third straight season, extending their title-less MDC streak to 3 seasons (the previous record was… 1). Let’s dive into each of these teams before getting back to the Spartans, and a big picture view after the 2024 Michigan Dodgeball Cup:

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Way-Too-Early 2023-24 Power Rankings

Team writeups provided by the NCDA Power Ranking Panel
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1) Ohio State – Ohio State will head into the 2023-24 season as the number one power ranked team. They’ll return 10 starters to a team that was an overtime away from a final four appearance, which is more than every other team that played in the quarterfinals. The two departures will be All-American Ryan Ginsberg and All-Ohio player Ben Dardia, both of whom plan to stay with the club as coaches. The corners for the Buckeyes will stay intact, headlined by two All-Rookie players on the right and Ethan Lehmkuhl on the left. The Buckeyes will still need a strong recruiting class to beat the best of the best, but that shouldn’t be too much of a concern as they have had two All-Rookie players each of the past two years. Look for this team to use their experience early on but continue to improve throughout the year in hopes of their first National Title since 2006.

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Opinion Article- Top Jerseys In The League

The thing that can separate teams from looking cool/ professional or looking basic/ unassuming. Here President/ Captain of WMU Dodgeball and Kent player Mitchell Porter give their favorite jerseys a shoutout.

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Power Rankings: April 2023

Team writeups provided by the NCDA Power Ranking Panel

1) Michigan State – Michigan State remains #1 in the country after a month without any action leading up to Nationals. The Spartans will look to keep their undefeated season alive next week in Athens, OH, attempting to become the first team since 2009 GVSU to finish a season as undefeated National Champions. Nationals will be the final tournament for a handful of Spartan Legends, all from the same star-studded 2019-20 rookie class. Those players include Barry Butler III, Jack Girling, Josh Kramer, and DQ McClean. This group looks to finish off impressive careers at MSU and add to an already strong resume of 2 MDC Titles and a National Runner-Up finish in 2022. This core is not alone for Michigan State, with other young stars on the roster including a rookie duo as good as any in the country (Matt Barriball and Nick Fedewa). Michigan State is one of the very best programs in collegiate dodgeball history, but the one thing they have never accomplished is winning a national title. 2023 looks like their best opportunity yet to do so. Can the Spartans cap off the season on top, or will they make a deep run but fall short like countless seasons of the past? We will find on Sunday, April 16 in Athens.

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My Central Region Overtime-6

The college dodgeball championship is right around the corner and the excitement heading into nationals is growing. Nationals will have some of the best games of the year, which means there is a good chance that we see overtime matches. Overtime matches usually constant of a team’s six best players on the court and they can be on the court for many different reasons. Below let’s take a look at some of the top players from the central region that I think you might want to consider having in your overtime six.

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5 Matchups Everyone Wants to See at Nationals

With nationals just around the corner, we thought it would be a great time to highlight some matches we have not seen this season. The following are five matchups that many fans are hoping to see at Nationals. There have been plenty of fantastic ones this season with lots of out of region travel, but there are still more we would love to see.

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Power Rankings: March 2023

Team writeups provided by the NCDA Power Ranking Panel

1) Michigan State – The clear #1 team in the country, Michigan State continued their historic season at the Michigan Dodgeball Cup where they went 4-0, including a clutch comeback victory over Grand Valley State in the final match of the day. There is plenty of dodgeball left to be played, but the Spartans are currently on pace to be the first school since GVSU in 2009 to be undefeated National Champions. Led by the likes of Jack Girling, Barry Butler III, Josh Kramer, and DQ McClean, this MSU roster has an insane amount of experience to go along with a solid group of talented young players. Expect MSU to remain the NCDA favorite heading into April.

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Power Rankings: December 2022

Team writeups provided by the NCDA Power Ranking Panel

1) Michigan State – While their last match was over two months ago, the Spartans have put in a lot of work on their own time and hope to finish the fall semester just as strong as they started. Michigan State heads into the weekend with three big matchups at the Dr. Peter Broe Classic and looks to prove just why they are the unanimous #1 among the power rankings. Between the triple headed All-American offensive threat of Jack Girling, Barry Butler and Alec Deen coupled with a well-versed defensive core, MSU seems incredibly solid on paper. The real test will come down to rookie development. It comes as no surprise that the Spartans have recruited well, but their top rookies in Nick Fedewa, Matt Barriball and Zach Van Fleet will be paving the way and look to shine in key roles this weekend. If they continue to develop, you can expect these three to become new household names in the NCDA.

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Power Rankings: November 2022

Team writeups provided by the NCDA Power Ranking Panel

1) Michigan State – The Spartans starting off the season strong was something few doubted. October ended with a convincing 3-0 record against Ohio, Cincinnati and Cleveland State. The triple-headed offensive threat of #2 All American Jack Girling, #6 All American Barry Butler III and ROY Alec Deen showed that they can be an unstoppable force. Girling and Butler III proved early that they deserve consideration for MVP candidacy and have a great communication front in Captain Josh Kramer and Assistant Captain DQ McClean. MSU has recruited well, yet again, and have another strong rookie class including a ROY front-runner candidate in Nick Fedewa and dark horses Matt Barriball and Zac VanFleet. Their rookies proved that they’ve learned strategy early and can further help round-out this powerhouse program. Roster depth and player development will be key if the Spartans look to take home a National Title come April. One has to wonder if the Spartans will let early victories get the best of them to take their foot off of the gas or if they’ll continue to push themselves through the season?

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Power Rankings: October 2022

Team writeups provided by the NCDA Power Ranking Panel

1) Michigan State – Textbook start to the year for the Spartans. MSU travelled to JBBBIII and went undefeated with convincing wins over two top 5 programs (Cincinnati and Ohio). Pretty solid resume if you ask us. Michigan State proved to everyone they are in the title conversation. With plenty of veterans on the roster paired with some young talent, this feels like a team that will progress quite a bit this year while maintaining more consistency than MSU teams of the past. So when can we expect that first GVSU vs. MSU matchup?

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Power Rankings: Postseason 2022

Team writeups provided by the NCDA Power Ranking Panel
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1) Grand Valley State- Back on top for the… *checks notes* 11th time, the Lakers once again saved their best for last this season. In a year (especially Day 1 of Nationals), where the league seemed more wide open than ever, of course the Lakers ripped through everyone in bracket play (by a combined 20-4 score) to win the title. Ben Smart was sensational on Sunday of Nationals, Josh Hill’s cannon arm was on full display (per usual), quite honestly the entire team put it together when it mattered most. The unsung heroes of this season might be the GVSU rookie class, led by Matt Budai and Ryan Paddock. Don’t look now, but GVSU only loses a few starters, so this might be the start of another title streak for the Lakers.

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Comparing Resumes of the NCDA’s Top 5

The following article was prepared by Kevin Bailey, Wes Peters, and Kathryn Mays.

With the March 2022 Power Rankings just released, the top 5 teams in the NCDA deserve a deeper dive. It seems at this point in the season, the top 5 teams in the league have separated themselves a bit from the rest of the pack. 

With Cincinnati winning the Ohio Dodgeball Cup, Michigan State winning the Michigan Dodgeball Cup, James Madison putting the hammer down on the rest of the East Coast, Grand Valley State boasting a 13-2 overall record, and Ohio State chugging along as a title contender and up to #3 in the Gonzalez standings, these 5 teams all have had stellar campaigns thus far.

Let’s take a closer look at each team’s resume to get a better understanding of where each squad stands heading into the final month of the collegiate dodgeball season! We will cover these teams in the order in which they were ranked in the March 2022 PR:

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Power Rankings: March 2022

Team writeups provided by the NCDA Power Ranking Panel

1) Cincinnati – The Bearcats climb back to the top of our Power Rankings for March, after sitting at 2nd for two straight months. In February, the Bearcats took home the Ohio Dodgeball Cup and dismantled SVSU, Towson, and Cleveland State at their appearance at The War V. This team is one of the deepest teams in the league, and seem poised to make a deep run Sunday at Nationals. One stop left for the Bearcats before Nationals, however, as they host the Clifton Heights Classic on March 26th. Will they be able to close out the regular season sitting atop the Power Rankings and Gonzalez Standings? We shall see, as there appears to be an upstart Bobcats team from Athens, Ohio who may have something to say about that.