Michigan Region 2019-20 Season Preview

2019-20 Projections:

*All regional rankings based off the content team’s preseason power rankings

Order of Finish:

  1. Grand Valley State
  2. Michigan State
  3. Central Michigan
  4. Saginaw Valley State
  5. Western Michigan

Michigan Region Player of the Year: Ben Smart (GVSU)

Michigan Region OT 6:

  1. Ben Smart (GVSU)
  2. Payton Schuster (MSU)
  3. Jacob Georges (MSU)
  4. Alex Jonauskas (GVSU)
  5. Eric Nelson (CMU)
  6. Jack Hilt (MSU)

Team Previews:

Grand Valley State

2019-20 Projections: National: 1 /// Michigan Region: 1

Location: Allendale, MI

2018-19 Record: 28-1

2018-19 Finish: #2 in Power Rankings, 2nd at Nationals

Season Preview: The goal when you play for GVSU Dodgeball is simple: win the National Championship. After coming up just short a year ago,ending a 6-year title run, the Lakers are ready to get back to where they believe they belong. 

Players like Coda Gallagher (8), Nolan Stanko (11), and Nick Hehl (40) will be counted on to play a bigger role in GVSU’s offense this season. PC: Mad City

Good News: GVSU will still have star power on their roster despite losing plenty of their leaders from a year ago. Ben Smart was a 1st Team All-American a year ago, and he will be joined by plenty of other players who will be household names in the NCDA this year including Alex Jonauskas and Nolan Stanko.

Bad News: The list of departing seniors is as loaded. The Lakers will have to figure out quickly how to manage without stars like Meisel, Krafft, Stockdale, Reyes, Wondergem, etc. The new stars on this team have some massive shoes to fill.

Our Call: New captain Josh Hill has been handed the keys to the most successful program in College Dodgeball history. All eyes will be on him as he looks to lead the Lakers back to a title in a year where they have plenty of big names to replace. GVSU has the potential to once again win it all, but it won’t be easy.

Michigan State

2019-20 Projections: National: 2 /// Michigan Region: 2

Location: East Lansing, MI

2018-19 Record: 13-9

2018-19 Finish: #5 in Power Rankings, T-3 at Nationals

Season Preview: Exciting times in East Lansing. The Spartans were one of the most improved teams in the country a year ago, finishing in the Final Four a year after their team barely made it past VCU in the Round of 16 at Nationals. 

Payton Schuster enters his second year as the captain for Michigan State with a talented and experienced team with National Championship aspirations. PC: Mad City

Good News: Captain Payton Schuster has plenty of weapons at his disposal this year, with loaded Sophomore and Junior classes on the roster. Players like Dennis Sullivan, Jack Hilt, and Jacob Georges all have the potential to be in the All-American discussion this year.

Bad News: The dodgeball gods haven’t seemed to be on the Spartans’ side over the years. Whether it’s their awful track record at MDC, or their inability to get over the hump and win the National Title when they have an experienced squad, MSU has had their fair share of bad luck in the past. Here’s to the 2019-20 version of the Spartans ending that streak of unfortunate results…

Our Call: The table is set for Michigan State to be a title favorite in 2019-20. They have the talent and the experience. The Michigan Region is once again stacked, so don’t be surprised if MSU loses some games along the way, but the bottom line is this team has the potential to win MSU their first ever NCDA National Championship come April.

Central Michigan

2019-20 Projections: National: 4 /// Michigan Region: 3

Location: Mount Pleasant, MI

2018-19 Record: 15-11

2018-19 Finish: #3 in Power Rankings, T-3 at Nationals

Season Preview: Anyone who thought Central Michigan would fall back to mediocrity after losing a giant graduating class at the end of the 2018-19 season came away thoroughly disappointed following last season. CMU was able to piece together one of the best recruiting classes in the country and remain one of the top teams in the sport, coming up just short against GVSU in the Final Four. The Chippewas enter 2019-20 with hopes to take it a step further this year.

Jared Brown was one of the top rookies in the country last fall, and should take another step forward in 2019-20. PC: Mad City

Good News: Central Michigan returns nearly their entire starting lineup from a year ago. Their loaded rookie class from 2018-19 now has a year under their belt. CMU should start 2019 in much better form than they did a year earlier.

Bad News: The Chips lose a pair of 1st Team All-Americans. Austin Brege and Casey Bielec were two of the top arms for Central last year, so the Chippewas will have plenty of offense to replace. 

Our Call: This team looked very cohesive towards the end of last year, and if they can pick up where they left off, they will be good enough to beat any team in the country. Don’t be surprised when Central Michigan remains a top 5 team throughout the entire season.

Saginaw Valley State

2019-20 Projections: National: 7 /// Michigan Region: 4

Location: University Center, MI

2018-19 Record: 10-12

2018-19 Finish: #7 in Power Rankings, T-9 at Nationals

Season Preview: Saginaw Valley State enters the 2019-20 season in an interesting spot. They finished 2018-19 as arguably the fourth best team in the region, and a few of their stars departed. Despite that, this team still has plenty of talent and depth to compete with the top schools in the league.

Players like Noah Womack will need to step up this fall to replace SVSU’s many difference makers who departed during the offseason due to graduation. PC: Mad City

Good News: Jake Bruce took a big step forward last year and will be a star in 2019-20. Dylan McDonald and Bryce Stevens are two more players that could be in the All-American conversation if they have the breakout years they are capable of having. The overall depth on SVSU’s roster is still better than most teams in the league. If SVSU schedules enough games, they will have the experience and team chemistry to once again be a threat to win big tournaments like MDC, WAR, and Nationals.

Bad News: A few All-American level stars departed this offseason. Kenny Mize and Kyle Bruce were two of SVSU’s most productive players last season. SVSU will need new players top step up and be top end players on this team.

Our Call: Following a year where they lost in the Quarterfinals (worst finish among Michigan schools at Nationals), preseason hype surrounding the Cardinals seems to be lower than most years. With that said, SVSU was a deep team a year ago, and will return plenty of starters. Don’t be surprised when they are once again contenders in 2019-20

Western Michigan

2019-20 Projections: National: 29 /// Michigan Region: 5

Location: Kalamazoo, MI

2018-19 Record: 0-3

2018-19 Finish: Unranked in Power Rankings, did not attend Nationals

Season Preview: Western Michigan enters year two as a member of the National Collegiate Dodgeball Association with some much needed experience under their belt. After going 0-3 in 2018-19 and failing to field a team for Nationals, expectations are higher in Kalamazoo this fall.

Good News: Experience is everything, and WMU finally has some, after competing at the Michigan Dodgeball Cup in 2019. Captain Peter Broe is a dodgeball veteran, both in the NCDA and Elite. His leadership will certainly speed up the development of their younger players.

Bad News: WMU needs to increase their roster size. They didn’t have a full 12 for MDC last year, and had to drop out of Nationals due to low numbers as well. If they can increase their club size, plenty of issues will dissolve with it.

Our Call: The Broncos are in a difficult position. A new program trying to find their way in the toughest region in the NCDA. Western will need to schedule more tournaments this year if they hope to make big improvements. If they can get a good recruiting class, it will be interesting to see how much they progress.

Author: Kevin Bailey

Current NCDA Chief of Content. Former Captain for Grand Valley State University (#4).

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