The NCDA’s 2015-16 season is currently at its halfway point, and it has been quite the first half to the season! There have been more close matches / overtime games than I can ever remember for the first half of the year. No one team is too dominant for the rest, and many of the new up and coming teams are making serious progress. The stage is set for a very interesting second semester of dodgeball! Here is a brief overview of the situation in each region at the midway point in the 2015-16 NCDA season:
The Michigan Region has long been considered the top region in the country, and rightfully so. This year looks to be no different, as the state of Michigan is home to four of the best teams the NCDA has to offer. GVSU, CMU, MSU, and SVSU have all showed promise this season, and I would be very surprised if we don’t see a few of these schools make the final four come April.
The big difference in this season compared to the past is that the Michigan Region is absolutely wide open this year. Any of the four teams could end up on top at the end of the year, as each has shown flashes of greatness so far. Look for the Michigan Dodgeball Cup in February to be a very important tournament for the Michigan Region.
I have often mentioned my opinion that the East Coast Region has been stronger than the Ohio Region the last few years, and I think that by season’s end that very well might be the case, but as of right now the Ohio Region is the second best in the nation. For starters, Ohio State has very quietly put together a 9-1 record to this point in the year (the only loss being a nail-biter against Michigan State). The Buckeyes are poised to make a final four run this season if you ask me.
Behind the Buckeyes, Kent State currently sits at #6 in the NCDA standings. They don’t look as strong as they were a few years ago, but they’re still a team that could make some noise at Nationals. Akron and Baldwin Wallace are two teams that have made significant strides since last season and I am excited to see how they end up doing in the spring. Lastly, Ohio has come into the league and despite struggling, they managed to play 13 games in the fall, which bodes well for the future of their program!
East Coast Region
The first half to the 2015-16 season has been weird for the East Coast Region. Yeah, the best word I can think of to describe it is “weird”. Bottom line is that these schools have unfortunately not been able to play enough so far this year, and it may come back to haunt them in the spring. James Madison boasts an undefeated record, but they only have six wins!
In other news, there was a team leaving a tournament early causing less games to be played at the JMU Pumpkin Smash, and of course Towson ran into an issue causing them to have a shortened fall semester schedule. All in all, I still have high hopes for many of the schools from the east, but there is a lot of work to do if any of these teams expect to compete with the Midwest schools who seem to play double the amount of dodgeball matches.
Entering this season, I had very high hopes for University of Kentucky. I have only seen them once and it was with a limited roster, but I do expect a lot of improvement in the winter/spring from them. UK has some great catchers, and their transition play is better than I expected. While they still are young and inexperienced, I think they will make a strong push in the second half of the season. The same goes for a young WKU squad that will benefit from the return of Nick Johnson. Don’t be surprised if they look much better this April than they did a year earlier.
The last region to discuss is the Illinois Region. I only had the pleasure of viewing one of these schools in the fall and that was Wisconsin Platteville. They are a young team, but the top level talent is there for them to make another strong run second semester as they did in 2014-15. DePaul is a school from Illinois that I am looking forward to seeing in action in 2016. As many people know, their leader Niko Nodal is a great player, and there is some other talent scattered throughout their roster.
The first half to the season brought more questions than answers for College Dodgeball. The top of the league is crowded with teams of similar skill level. The regional hierarchy is more of an unknown for me than it has been in quite some time. The story of the 2015-16 season still has quite a few chapters left, and I am excited to see how it all ends up!