This will be interesting to see. In only their first semester officially in the NCDA, the University of North Georgia (UNG) will be hosting a tournament which features themselves along with Georgia Southern University (GSU), Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), and Western Kentucky University (WKU). As mentioned previously, UNG is brand new team, and so is GSU. These two teams previously faced each other in a doubleheader at GSU, but now both will get the chance to play against some veteran teams in the form of VCU and WKU. As I said before, this will be interesting to see, mainly because all of these teams currently sit in the middle of the pack standings wise. Currently, UNG, VCU, WKU, and GSU sit at #10, 11, 12, and 18 in the Gonzalez rankings respectively. Because of this, there are a lot of points to be gained this weekend for any team that emerges on top.
We will start with the Nighthawks of UNG. First things first, a big congratulations to this program for getting started and hitting the ground running hard. It is very difficult to get a team started, much less host a tournament in the first semester as well, so they deserve the praise and recognition for that achievement.
This team enjoyed two wins earlier in the semester with a 9-0 and 8-0 sweep of GSU. It was a good start for their team, and the momentum may play a factor this weekend along with the home-court advantage. A lot of people are curious, myself included, with how they will do against more established teams. There is some good talent on this team with some outside dodgeball experience. Kyle Dattelbaum and Liam Bartlett looked very impressive on the Livestream against GSU both in their play and leadership on the court. If this team focuses on playing smart and keeps their heads level throughout the weekend, they may be able to pull off an upset against VCU or WKU, and possibly both.
Like UNG, the Eagles of GSU are brand new to the NCDA. While they didn’t open up with the best of results during their home doubleheader, there were some positives to take away from it. For one, this team showed that they do not quit and they are always willing to play until the end. This mentality is going to be very important for them over the course of this season, and going into next season as well.
They come into this event as the relative underdogs, but I highly doubt they will play with an underdog mentality. Zach Rivera will be leading his team this weekend hoping to build up some confidence. The southpaw will have a lot of changes that need to be made over the course of the week in order to prepare his team for this tournament.
This will be the final tournament for the Rams and they are looking to make it a good one. They are 8-6 in varsity matches coming into this weekend with some good wins on the year including Akron and Kent State in overtime at the Pink Out 2 tournament. However, this team has not played since the Maryland Dodgeball Invite on October 29th after playing competitively for 5 consecutive weekends. We will have to see if the extra rest helps the team, or if it will cause them to go cold.
This team will have a lot of their top players present this weekend including Sam Lammie and Torao Ota. However, these players have never been a concern. What has been an issue for the Rams is getting a strong consistent play out the team’s full 15 player roster. Some key players will be making reappearances for the Rams including Jason Huang, Shadeed Drakeford, and Jeff Shackleford which should alleviate those concerns. VCU has never gone undefeated during a tournament, and November 19th might just be their chance.
The Hilltoppers have surprised a lot of people this year with their current performance (despite me saying they could be a quarterfinal team this year). WKU currently sits at 4-1 on the year, with the only loss being a 2-1 defeat from the University of Kentucky. Their last tournament appearance was at Akron’s Pink Out 2 where the team went 3-0 with victories over Bowling Green, Ohio, and Akron University.
Nick Johnson has done a great job with his squad thus far, and they have proven to be successful in the Midwest. He has been a key part of that success along with guys like Wilson Horner and Mani Weston. This will be their first time playing against UNG and GSU, and just their second time playing against VCU, with the last meeting at Nationals 2015 at WKU.
ZM: Gonzalez Exchanges will be mostly influential for each team. The potential for technical upsets are not out of reach for most of these matches, with each predicted upset exchange falling within the normal deviation of what we’ve seen in the past. If an technical upset were to happen, it would be more likely for any of these matches.
|Exchange if Upset
In general, I expect this to be a very competitive tournament. What I am most excited about though, is getting the opportunity to see these two brand new teams compete against two veteran teams. There is no clear favorite in this tournament which should make it that much more entertaining, and critical for rankings towards the end of the semester.