Disclaimer: These rankings have zero impact on seeding for the National Tournament or actual ranking. They provide insight into where teams are currently performing during a given part of the season.
Here it is. The final power rankings of the season. Hope you all enjoy it on your ride down to Lexington and get a kick out of it as much as I did writing it. I tried to insert as many “Dodgeball” quotes as I could, comment how many you think you found. First to guess it correctly gets “Two expired movie passes and a free body massage from Peter LaFleur.” But for real, see how many you can find.
For those easily offended, please do not read any further…
1. Grand Valley State University LR: 1
The 4x defending National Champions are peaking at the right time, having not lost once in 2017. Not quite sure there is anyone in the league other than GVSU faithful that would like to see them win another championship. There remains a major issue however, this will be their first Nationals without the Kevin Bailey in 4 years…I smell disaster approaching. I’m just kidding. But not really. Ok, I am. But seriously though, watch out…
2. James Madison University LR: 3
The Dukes keep rolling. They are in a great spot going into Nationals. However, they face a daunting schedule on Saturday. They will face off against Kent State later in the day, and SVSU early on in what many believe will be the best match of the day. Two teams that are known for trash talking and very talented going head to head; what could be more exciting than that? Look for Doug Schilling and company to make a deep run on Sunday and carry-on the strong legacy of JMU dodgeball.
3. Towson University LR: 4
The fighting Jon Shaw’s continue to plug away at the rest of the league. They already have a win over one Michigan team. Can they make it two, maybe more? They certainly have the talent and the drive to do so, but some question how deep of a run they can make with so little experience on Sunday. Can they make a deep run? Absolutely, but as former alum Sean Smith said to me, “I’m not crazy and I’m not a guy!” Not sure what Sean was trying to prove by saying that, but regardless, all eyes will be on this team when they take on GVSU on Saturday. Good luck gents, now is your chance to make history.
4. Central Michigan University LR: 5
As Colin O’Brien put it back in February, “Don’t poke the Bear.” There are a handful of people in the league that believe the Chippewas are an average team, and do not deserve to be in the top 5 let alone the top 10. Just because old man Donald Peters hates on his Alma Mater, does not mean they are as bad as he says they are, not everything he says is gospel. But anyways, a solid portion of CMU’s best players are graduating this year. Look for them to make it a third straight National Title appearance and this time to bring home the hardware. The last time GVSU went on a 4-peat, CMU was the team to stop them in their tracks, here’s hoping they are good at repeating history.
5. University of Kentucky LR: 6
With the large amount of Wildcat fans known to show up to their games in years past, home court advantage is for once (unlike MSU’s) a true factor in determining the winner of a match. This team is hungry. Many of their players from last year returned and are in their final season. They lost last year to CMU in overtime on Saturday of Nationals and have been waiting to make up for that ever since. Do they have what it takes to shock the Chips? Absolutely. Especially when there is only 40 minutes to play in one match. This is a must watch game. Maybe they will crack the Final Four, we know damn well their basketball team couldn’t…just have to wait and see!
6. Saginaw Valley State University LR: 7
What I picture my friends over at SVSU saying when they see I have them in 6th: “Are you out of your Goddamn mind?! What are you smoking over there Leski? You do remember that we went 2-1 at MDC right? Dude you have finally lost it.” My rebuttal: “First off chill out. That 2-1 performance was 7 weeks ago! Sitting on your ass after MDC until Nationals hasn’t paid off for your squad very well in years past. Prove me wrong!!” I do look forward to hearing Cody Putnam’s comments on this and if the rumors are true, seeing him play once again. Always great to see him carrying on, even if it’s only on one leg. This team is more than capable of winning it all, their big guns just cannot tire out on Sunday too early.
7. Michigan State University LR: 2
Where the hell do I start with this team? Glad to see my good friend Colin O’Brien has returned to his former self. However as many know, MSU is entering Nationals on a bit of a cold streak. Losing a large majority of their games in the second half of the season. On the bright side of things, their Day 1 schedule of Nationals plays out perfectly for them. If they can go 3-0 they can expect to jump to the 4 or 5 seed on Day 2, which would be huge for them, potentially getting to avoid another Michigan team in the Quarterfinals. I have heard rumors that for the first time in many years they will have their top 15 at Nationals, and yes Anuj “The Boy Wonder” Vyas will be in attendance.
8. Penn State University LR: 8
A lot of hype surrounding this team heading into Nationals and I apparently bought in by predicting them to go 3-0 on Day 1. If they do that they have a very good chance of jumping all the way up to the 7th seed, which would be a historic achievement for this young program. To achieve this though, they will have to defeat three opponents equal to them in talent. The one weakness I know about this team is that the word “Ball control” is not in their dictionary. In fact if you asked them their thoughts on throwing 5 and keeping 5 on a ball’s over they would respond with “Wait, you don’t have to throw all 10?” It’s a bold strategy Cotton, let’s see if it pays off.
9. Kent State University LR: 9
Bets! Bets! Place your bets! Will Jacob Leski receive over/under a total of 10.5 rude gestures, comments, cold shoulders, etc. from members of Kent State’s Dodgeball team throughout the weekend? Pool closes at 8am EST on Saturday of Nationals.
Ok, ok, back to the content. This team has a lot to prove after losing to Ohio at the ODC. Yes, I know they didn’t have all of their starters. Tell me a team that hasn’t used that excuse after losing to or barely beating a below-average team? There aren’t many. All joking aside, I do believe this is a good team. They ALWAYS bring their “A” game to Nationals. I have always despised playing them at Nationals because I know what they are capable of and I do not see it any different this time around.
10. Virginia Commonwealth University LR: 9
I like this team. However, I feel safe in saying that many teams in the league do not. They had a red hot start earlier in the year, especially when they took a good MSU team to overtime at the Beast. Since they started tooting their own horn, they have taken a small downfall. Did they have the right to start talking smack to top-tier teams? Not necessarily. To quote Hunter Ford, “Necessary? Is it necessary for me to drink my own urine? No, but it’s sterile and I like the taste…” But, they do deserve the chance to back it up. Hence why they were by far the most requested team for Nationals. As the saying goes, “Talk shit, get hit.” Can the Rams back it up? We will certainly find out. If I was them, I would pray Shaka Smart makes a guest appearance and leads them to a miraculous Final Four trip.
11. Bowling Green State University LR: 13
I love to poke fun at Ohio teams as much as the next guy, but as sad as I am to say this, I don’t really have any material to use against them, which is unlike me. That tells me one thing, this team is ready to take it to whoever they play. While I do not expect them to beat GVSU, I predict a competitive game. Nationals is BGSU’s chance to prove to everyone that they are a force to be reckoned with and I want to buy in, but the Falcons need to give me something to buy into more than a win over another Ohio team. Make a statement this weekend. That simple.
12. Ohio State University LR: 12
Jeff Star turns 31 this weekend at Nationals. Make sure you wish him a happy birthday.
13. Western Kentucky University LR: 11
The mighty Hilltoppers are not expected to do much this weekend. However, if my little birdies are correct, this is Nick Johnson’s final season. He has been a poor-man’s Felix Perrone to that program, which is a huge compliment. He has hosted a Nationals and has kept them competitive for 3+ years. Shit, now I think about it, maybe Felix Perrone is a poorman’s Nick Johnson. Yeah, I like the sound of that better. Good luck Nick, hope to see you and your squad make some noise at Nationals and prove to Felix why you are his superior in life.
14. University of Wisconsin-Platteville LR: 10
Not too many things from Wisconsin are better than UWP dodgeball other than cheese, beer, football and cheese. Damn they make good cheese. Sorry, getting carried away. Lot of respect for the work Erik Zander has done for that program all the way out on the west side of Lake Michigan. They have played a total of 14 games, which may not seem like much to a team from the Midwest or the East Coast, but with the limited amount of competition in their area currently, that is a large feat. I did overhear Erik Zander say that they paid off their Nationals entrance fee in Canadian Dollars and saved themselves some money. Good for them.
15. Ohio University LR: 15
If you think VCU is disliked throughout the league then you clearly haven’t heard of the Ohio Bobcats. Boy have they pissed off the masses. Yes, they won the ODC. Huge accomplishment for a new program, not taking that away from them one bit. But damn, they started acting like they just won the National Title and began talking smack towards teams like CMU and MSU, claiming they are historically top-heavy. It was an embarrassing takeaway from everything they have done in two short years. I have a lot of respect for Caleb Arnold and have to give him credit that when he went on his rant it was less than 12 hours after his 21st birthday. So yeah…I will leave it at that.
16. DePaul University LR: 16
Not entirely sure what to expect from this team. They have always had solid talent year in and year out. Their problem has always been that when it comes to being serious and closing out a point versus fooling around and having fun, they ALWAYS choose the latter option. Nothing wrong with that, just one of these days I would like to see them utilize that talent they have at their disposal. Niko Nodal was one of the most under-used talents to ever play in the NCDA. I think that is how he would have wanted to go though. But as always, they know how to have a great time at Nationals.
17. Akron University LR: 17
I will never predict Akron to do well because when I do expect them to win they lose, and they lose bad. So I am kinda doing them a favor. A lot of respect for what Adam Pfeifer has done with this program. Hope he does not fight anyone this weekend, but if he does someone get it on camera because it would not be pretty for his opponent. Hope to see them pick up a victory on Saturday and at least one on Sunday.
18. University of North Georgia LR: 18
They have great throwers, great catchers, great blockers. You want it they got it! Ok, I honestly don’t know a damn thing about this team other than that they have lost two of their three best players due to graduation. I will say that I have mad respect for Kyle Dattelbaum being able to get his first year program to make it out to Nationals already. Not an easy task. Just ask the other new programs that are envious of them and Cleveland State. When I am not cheering on my Chippewas, expect to hear me screaming and hollering for this team.
19. University of Virginia LR: 19
Going to start referring to Marty Knauf (Captain) as Buzz Killington Jr. for not being able to make it out to his teams first ever National Tournament appearance. Really excited to see this team perform. Their veteran leadership will be huge for them, especially on Sunday. Glad to see another team representing the East Coast.
20. University of Maryland LR: 20
This program is a shell of what it used to be, but do not get me wrong, Justin Anderson has this very young crew headed in the right direction. They will turn some heads on Saturday. Their young guys just need to listen to their leadership who have been here before. Welcome back to Nationals boys. “Crabcakes and Football. That’s what Maryland does best!” First to name that movie gets a nice cold beverage on me. Good luck Terps.
21. Miami (OH) University LR: 23
“The boys are back in town! The boys are back in town!” The RedHawks are back ladies and gents, riding on the back of Captain Kyle Shaw. They are just happy to be back. Hell yes they want to win some games, but give this group some props for reviving this program and going them to Nationals in one short year. Let’s Go!!
I will believe it when I see it. I am praying that Marteece Pennington comes out of the woodwork and shows up for the Demons. For those that do not know who that is he was a predator on the court for them 4 years ago when they were at Nationals at UK. Regardless, looking forward to meeting the guys and girls of this once defunct team make a resurgence at Nationals.
Beyond happy to see another new team attending Nationals. They are just happy to be there as well. Ready to play some dodgeball and get their clubs name out there. As Matt Klembara once said, “We’re better than you. And we know it!”
24. University of Nebraska-Lincoln LR: 21
Working with the Cornhuskers over the summer to get them more involved in the league and get them more competition in their general area.
25. Stevenson University LR: 22
Captain Kris Stevenson will be in attendance. Take some time out of your ever important day and take a moment to get to know him. Great leader and truly loves the game.
26. Baldwin Wallace University LR: 24
Anonymous response to BW backing out of Nationals: “Well, I guess if a person never quit when the going got tough, they wouldn’t have anything to regret for the rest of their life. But good luck to you, Baldwin Wallace. I’m sure this decision won’t haunt you forever.”
27. Northern Illinois University LR: 25
Rumors are swindling that this young program is looking to co-host Nationals 2018 with DePaul. Expect them to make a splash next season under captain Clint Summerfelt.
28. University of North Texas LR: 26
A lot of turnover at UNT this offseason. Will be working with their new leadership to keep their program going and to find them competition in the Lone Star state.
29. Georgia Southern University LR: 27
Captains Zach Rivera and Zach Frangi (Mr. Irrelevant) along with another teammate are attending Nationals to help ref and get their teams name out there. Happy to have them in attendance.
30. University of Wisconsin-Whitewater LR: 28
Avi Manthe and company will be attending Nationals to help ref as well. Rumor has it they can be seen reading the dictionary when they are not reffing. I will believe it when I see it.
Looking forward to keeping the great work up with this new program. Lots of potential.
32. University of Pittsburgh LR: 27
If you can dodge a wrench you can dodge a ball. That was a gimme. Really hope to see this young club get back into the competitive scene next year.