At the beginning of each season, every Michigan team has two goals in mind, one is obviously to win Nationals, but the other is to win the Michigan Dodgeball Cup, considered by many to be the most competitive tournament all season long. If you are looking for heated competition all day long, then I highly recommend you attend this tournament on good ole Valentine’s Day.
This year, Michigan Dodgeballer’s are foregoing a romantic day out with their significant other to play some good ole fashioned Dodgeball and for good reason. The MDC is often seen by many as the precursor to Nationals. How well teams perform here has a tendency to translate well into how far a team will make it at National’s. In year’s past, the MDC has typically come down to two team’s whose talent level far exceeded the others, however this year could potentially be the highest level of competition the MDC has ever seen. Currently, all four Michigan teams have a real shot at winning the MDC, which to my knowledge, has never happened before. Let’s take a look at each match-up taking place on Valentine’s Day and see what a leader from each Michigan team thinks the outcome will be. As usual, the teams in attendance:
- Grand Valley State University
- Central Michigan University
- Michigan State University
- Saginaw Valley State University
Game 1: Saginaw Valley vs. Michigan State
The only time these two teams played this season, SVSU won a closely contested match-up in overtime. Now I have to say, although this match-up was very close throughout the whole game, one major thing to take into consideration is the fact that this game was played back in October! Since then, SVSU has only played ONE game and that was against Grand Valley, a game they lost. MSU, CMU and GVSU have already played over 20 games each, Saginaw has played four total. That to me is a huge red flag. I strongly believe that the more games a team plays, the more they will improve as the season goes on. I have personally seen every Michigan team improve dramatically, except for Saginaw, because there is nothing to compare them to! Although I believe that Saginaw will be a little rusty, I am quite confident that with the amount of talent on their team, they will still put up quite a fight against every team they play this weekend. Unfortunately for them, I think their lack of games played will catch up to them this Saturday and prevent them from defending their MDC title from last season.
Jacob Leski (CMU): MSU 3 SVSU 2 (OT )
Kevin Bailey (GVSU): MSU 2 SVSU 1
Colin O’Brien (MSU): MSU 3 SVSU 1
Max Siler (SVSU): SVSU 2 MSU 1
Sean Smith (EC): MSU 3 SVSU 1
Game #2: Central Michigan vs. Grand Valley
Although I am a little biased, I have nothing but great things to say about this match-up, in fact I am very excited to see the outcome. Every game these two have played except for their match-up in Bowling Green has been incredibly close. A few key plays made by GV and a few critical mistakes by CMU have been the deciding factors in each of the 4 games GV won this season. This will be there 5th meeting of the season and one that I am sure many expect to be highly competitive. I applaud GV at their ability to close games out and use the clock to their advantage. In their last match-up, CMU had GV down to 2 players with 30 seconds left to play in the 1st half. Their ability to make smart plays and to think on their feet is the reason they did not lose that point, which would have changed the rest of the game. Time and time again, GV has made the right plays at the right time, whether they continue to do that this weekend will be the key to them winning. There is also a chance that their captain Kevin Bailey will be making a return, but I’ll believe it when I see it. For CMU, this team has only gotten better with every tournament. Their younger players are starting to make an impact on this team and I find it hard to see this team slowing down anytime soon. The key to them beating GV will be their ability to stay organized and effectively communicate with each other for all 50 minutes.
JL: CMU 3 GVSU 2 (OT)
KB: GVSU 2 CMU 0
CO: GVSU 2 CMU 1
MS: GVSU 4 CMU 1
SS: CMU 2 GVSU 1 (OT)
Game #3: Michigan State vs. Grand Valley
Michigan State has played Grand Valley a total of 7 times this semester and although they have lost all of them, this MSU team has either been within seconds of winning or blown out. Which is exactly why I have a hard time trying to figure out, which MSU team is going to show up. They are too inconsistent in their level of play, which has prevented them from taking a win against GV. Just like they did at their last home tournament, MSU is professing that they have a full roster again. However, at MSU’s tournament last semester, they were 2 men away from taking GV to OT, but instead had a dramatic meltdown after Captain Colin O’Brien was eliminated. This team has a tendency to self-implode once Colin gets eliminated, how they respond in the event that Colin gets eliminated will determine whether they win this game or not.
JL: GVSU 3 MSU 2 (OT)
KB: GVSU 4 MSU 0
CO: MSU 2 GVSU 1
MS: GVSU 3 MSU 0
SS: GVSU 4 MSU 1
Game #4: Central Michigan vs. Saginaw Valley
The last time these two teams played, Saginaw won 2-1. However, CMU had only 8 of their normal starters and the rest of their players were playing their first ever Dodgeball game. However, that should not take away from the fact that SVSU has two wins over MSU and CMU. As I stated earlier, I truly believe that their lack of game experience this season will come back to bite them right in the ass. To me, this game comes down to which team plays the smartest and makes the least amount of mistakes. I believe that CMU has many more talented players then SVSU, but as I have witnessed in my time in this league, SVSU rarely makes mistakes, which is why time and again they are a great team year after year. Whether they capitalize on potential mistakes made by CMU will be the true determiner of who wins this game.
JL: CMU 3 SVSU 1
KB: CMU 2 SVSU 1
CO: CMU 3 SVSU 1
MS: SVSU 3 CMU 2
SS: SVSU 3 CMU 2
Game #5: Michigan State vs. Central Michigan
As I stated in game #3, I am just interested to see which MSU team shows up, the one that can compete with anyone in the league or the one that makes critical mistakes that costs them points. These two teams have squared off four times this season, with MSU winning the first 2-1 and the second 2-0. CMU has won the last two games 3-0, one being at MSU when they had their “full roster”. Now I do not want to take anything from this match-up. The 3-0 score that took place in CMU’s two victories do not do MSU justice. There were many points that could have gone either way, but it seems that luck was on the Chippewas’ side. Because these two teams are tied in their series, the winner of this game can only feel good about where they are headed going into the final leg of the season. Regardless of the winner, these two teams will have the opportunity to play each other again at the CMU Showdown, where the competition will be just as intense as ever.
JL: CMU 3 MSU 1
KB: CMU 3 MSU 1
CO: MSU 2 CMU 1
MS: CMU 3 MSU 2 (OT)
SS: CMU 2 MSU 1
Game #6: GVSU vs. SVSU
Saving the best for last. This always heated match-up is the last game of the MDC and for good reason. I personally have never seen a game between these two that wasn’t extremely close and filled with great Dodgeball on both sides of the court. SVSU’s only two losses of the season are to GVSU, which is nothing to be ashamed about. The big question mark for me is whether Saginaw has the talent to keep up with the large amount of talent GV has. Just like last season, this game could very well be the determiner of who takes home the MDC this season. I personally hope that is not the case, but with how closely talented all of the teams are this season, it would not surprise me in the least. As I stated in game #4, the key to Saginaw winning will be their ability to capitalize on poor decisions made by GV. The problem is that GV rarely makes mistakes, which is why they are 24-0 so far this season. If GV sticks to their game, they should have no problem dismantling this Saginaw team that will surely be missing their players from last year by the end of the tournament.
JL: GVSU 4 SVSU 1
KB: GVSU 3 SVSU 0
CO: GVSU 3 SVSU 1
MS: SVSU 3 GVSU 2 (OT)
SS: GVSU 2 SVSU 1
JL: CMU 3-0, GVSU 2-1, MSU 1-2, SVSU 0-3
KB: GVSU 3-0, CMU 2-1, MSU 1-2, SVSU 0-3
CO: MSU 3-0, GVSU 2-1, CMU 1-2, SVSU 0-3
MS: SVSU 3-0, GVSU 2-1, CMU 1-2, MSU 0-3
SS: CMU 2-1, GVSU 2-1, MSU 1-2, SVSU 1-2
Trevor Nordberg– #36 almost single-handedly won GV the game against CMU in Chicago. Whether he will be able to repeat that amazing performance will be a big determiner if GV will be able to keep their undefeated record this season.
Jalen Gardner– This kid is a catching machine and plays smart all over the court. Rarely do you see this guy make a mistake, which is why he has been one of GV’s most consistent players time after time. If he can provide that spark GV will need then I have a hard time seeing them lose.
Mike Riley– This man can do it all. Catch, block, or throw he changes the game when he plays. How well he plays for the Chippewa’s could make or break on whether or not this team can go 3-0 this weekend.
Mike Heller- The Dan Bilzerian of the Chippewa’s is known for having a cannon and making smart plays, but if Central wants to go 3-0 this weekend, they will need him to also show off his catching abilities, which he has not done of lately, but don’t tempt him, cause he will make you pay.
Andy Lieblich– As I stated previously, this team has a tendency to collapse once Captain Colin O’Brien gets out. If the Spartan’s want to prevent that from happening I expect #20 to step up as an Assistant Captain should. He is one of the best catchers I have ever played against, but for him to be considered one of the league’s best he needs to start leading.
Alex Zajac– Just like I stated for Lieblich, this team needs someone to direct them and lead them once Colin is out. Being an Assistant Captain, I expect Alex to start leading this team not with just his skills but with his leadership.
Blake Grivetti– Blake is one of the few players in this league that I enjoy watching play. He knows how to play the game to his advantage. He rarely ever makes mistakes on the court, which is a reason why he is typically one of the last guys remaining for Saginaw for each point. He will need to play at his best this weekend for Saginaw to gain some victories.
Cody Putnam– Cody could easily be Saginaw’s best player, the downside of that is he makes critical mistakes time and time again that hurts his team when they need him most. Another big question mark I have for him is whether he can keep a level head throughout the day. He has struggled to keep his cool and lets other teams trash talkers get the best of him. If he can remain in control of his emotions I have no doubt he will help lead his team to a few victories.
As one can see by looking at the predictions made by 5 different individuals, 1 from each team and Sean Smith providing the East Coast opinion, this is going to be one hell of a turnout come Saturday night. The winner of the MDC could easily be anyone of these four teams, and whoever it may be, will have to go through some amazing competition to host the trophy at the end of the day.