Power Rankings: March 2023

Team writeups provided by the NCDA Power Ranking Panel

1) Michigan State – The clear #1 team in the country, Michigan State continued their historic season at the Michigan Dodgeball Cup where they went 4-0, including a clutch comeback victory over Grand Valley State in the final match of the day. There is plenty of dodgeball left to be played, but the Spartans are currently on pace to be the first school since GVSU in 2009 to be undefeated National Champions. Led by the likes of Jack Girling, Barry Butler III, Josh Kramer, and DQ McClean, this MSU roster has an insane amount of experience to go along with a solid group of talented young players. Expect MSU to remain the NCDA favorite heading into April.

2) Cincinnati – Cincinnati passed another test over the weekend, coming up victorious at the Ohio Dodgeball Cup. Brett Liming had a massive day for the Bearcats, but he was not alone. This roster is one of the deepest in the country, and like the #1 Spartans, they boast plenty of experience. Cincy held the slight edge over #3 James Madison despite losing an OT match to the Dukes back in January. It seems the voters value Cincy’s consistency and high floor, but make no mistake: this team also has the upside to win it all come April 16th.

3) James Madison – The Dukes did not play in February after a strong performance at their home tournament at the end of January. Since JMU are not attending WAR IV this weekend, it’s possible we may not see them in action again prior to Nationals. However, expect this veteran group to be ready to make a title run despite the long break between tournaments.

4) Grand Valley State – Sitting at 13-6, regardless of how the rest of the season goes (and this team is still a contender), this regular season has been the worst in Grand Valley’s storied history as a program. Six losses total, a failure to win the MDC, several losses to out-of-region schools including their first loss to JMU since Nationals 2013! It has been a tough go this year for the defending champs. The Lakers failed to bring in a loaded recruiting class, and their depth is not what it should be. All of that said, this team is still not out of the title hunt. After going up 2-0 against MSU at the MDC, the Lakers went cold and lost the match, but that first half spark proved this team still has that extra gear. Will they have enough arms, and consistency, to win another title? Time will tell.

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5) Ohio State- After a 3-0 performance at Viking Royale and a 2nd Place finish at the Ohio Dodgeball Cup, which included an electric win over Ohio and a one point loss to Cincinnati, the Buckeyes jump up 3 spots in the power rankings to #5. This young team keeps improving due to the constant improvements every tournament from rookies Nick Kemer and Alden Prohaska, while Derrek Kemper returns to the BOTM form he showed as a rookie last year. This team will face more tests this weekend including UNL and a rematch against UC. They might be power ranked outside the top 4 right now, but with the arm talent and clutch catching the Buckeyes have, this team has Final 4 upside and more.

6) Penn State – Penn State did not play this past month. However, they have a huge opportunity coming up at WAR on Saturday. A 3-0 this weekend, which would include a win over #1 Cincinnati, would eliminate any doubt that the Nittany Lions are a contender come April. Be on the lookout for second year players Hunter Stewart and Cloud Tapia-Manon to try cementing themselves in the All-American conversation with huge plays on Saturday.

7) Nebraska – UNL comes in at #7 and for a lot of people in the league the question is how good are they really? They are 5-0 on the season and their toughest opponent to date has been UWP. This is a unit that is hungry to prove that they are a top team. Fortunately, after this weekend we will get an answer to as how good they really are as they will be traveling for the War this weekend where they will be playing three top 10 teams in UC, Akron, and OSU. Hopefully the Cornhuskers put on a show and make a big statement this weekend to add to the chaos that Nationals should bring.

8) Ohio – Since reaching the heights of the #1 spot in the country, the Bobcats put together some disappointing showings at both the Beast and ODC. Whether it’s a breakdown in communication or forgetting the identity that brought them success, Ohio needs a reset mentally. With a bit of time to prep for hosting Nationals, they’ll look to regain the great form they had in the first half of the season.

9) Akron – Akron stays at #9 in the power rankings after a solid showing at the Ohio Dodgeball Cup. The Zips pulled off an impressive win in the 3rd Place game over Ohio University. Their other matches at the tournament were a 6-1 win over Bowling Green State, and a 7-0 defeat at the hands of eventual champion Cincinnati. Akron has a lot of work to do to get to ‘title contention’, but with some solid wins this year over the likes of Penn State and Ohio, this team has shown the ability to play up to their competition.

10) Wisconsin Platteville – Platteville comes in at #10, gaining a lot of experience from February. On the first weekend of the month, they traveled to Allendale and faced GVSU and MSU, which gave their rookies valauble experience that will help them grow. The Pioneers also took part in the Zanderthon Throw-Down last month and were able to against some tough alumni, which is only helping them get more comfortable on the court. UWP hopes these experiences will translate well for them at the War this weekend and rest assured they will battle every point and game to the end.

11) Bowling Green State – The Falcons are a young group on the rise at this point in the season for sure. Their 2-1 performance at the Ohio Dodgeball Cup has not gone unnoticed in this month’s rankings. While it’s certainly fair to say they aren’t ready to hang with the true league contenders, and probably aren’t ready to push for a quarterfinals spot at Nationals yet, the future is bright. There is a lot of young, unrefined talent on this roster and it will be fascinating to see them continue to grow the rest of this season and beyond.

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12) Saginaw Valley State – Saginaw Valley State had some missed opportunities this month, with a close loss to Western Michigan in a game they were favored, as well as a tough loss to GVSU where they nearly tied the game late. Saginaw has the same standouts as we’ve come to know, with Joe Barber, Cole Machiela, Bryce Stevens, Chris Rucker, etc. leading the way. SVSU’s key moving forward will be their depth.

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13) Maryland – UMD travels for their first out of region pre-Nationals tournament maybe ever this weekend at WAR. Despite being down All-American hopeful Adam Butz and some other veteran starters nursing arm injuries, the Terps believe they can win each game this weekend. With a schedule of Miami, CSU, and Akron, a 3-0 would be tough. However, don’t doubt a squad with the desire to prove themselves outside the East Coast for the first time this season.

14) Western Michigan – Western Michigan moves up to #14 after a historic day for the program at the Michigan Dodgeball Cup in February. With a monumental win over Saginaw Valley State, and an expected win over upstart Central Michigan, WMU finished 3rd at MDC, and earned the respect of many across the league. Look for this team to continue to improve heading into the home stretch of the season.

15) Miami – Coming in at 15 this month are the RedHawks of Miami. Another young team, loaded with arm talent but lacking so far in an understanding of on-court strategy. It will be fun to watch as this team matures (keep in mind, they’re made up of mostly freshmen and sophomores) to see their grasp on the game and pace of play increase. We expect only good things from Miami, and they’ve shown consistent improvement in new ways each time we’ve seen them play this year.

16) Virginia – UVA is in a similar situation to JMU tournament wise. They have not played since BEAST the last weekend of January and do not currently have another tournament scheduled before Nationals. It is hard to know where the Cavaliers stack up to the teams ranked around them and the rest of the league as a whole. UVA has only played one match not against the East Coast this whole season. We reckon they will be surprising one way or another at Nationals in April.

17) Central Michigan – CMU finished the day 0-4 at the Michigan Dodgeball Cup, but the tournament wasn’t vacant of highlights for the Chippewas. This program is still recovering the a short inactive stint post-pandemic, but they have some talent scattered throughout their roster, and some senior leaders that helped guide them through their comeback season. It seems unlikely CMU will attend Nationals, but this program is back and in a good place heading into 2023-24!

18) Kent State – Kent is an extremely young team with a lot of first year players, but they are making the right moves in getting in as many games as possible. This is going to give them the experience they will need over the next few years and once they are able to get a few more players on this squad they are going to be fun watch. Watch out for the golden flashes in the next few years.

19) Cleveland State- Cleveland State finds themselves still in the top 20 in our rankings, but close to falling out after last weekend’s performance. We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again. This team needs arm talent. They are a smart group of players, just lacking in overall talent to be able to keep up with more athletic teams around the league. If this group can recruit 4-5 legit arms this fall, look out for them to put the pieces together sooner rather than later.

20) Concordia – Concordia got a lot of experience this last semester and it looks like the next time we might see them in action is at Nationals. They have great leadership and are working hard to get the funds to make the trip, and we are confident they will. They are determined and working hard to put in the time to get their first win ever as a club. Go Falcons!

Author: Kevin Bailey

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

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