Team writeups provided by the NCDA Power Ranking Panel
1) Michigan State – The Spartans starting off the season strong was something few doubted. October ended with a convincing 3-0 record against Ohio, Cincinnati and Cleveland State. The triple-headed offensive threat of #2 All American Jack Girling, #6 All American Barry Butler III and ROY Alec Deen showed that they can be an unstoppable force. Girling and Butler III proved early that they deserve consideration for MVP candidacy and have a great communication front in Captain Josh Kramer and Assistant Captain DQ McClean. MSU has recruited well, yet again, and have another strong rookie class including a ROY front-runner candidate in Nick Fedewa and dark horses Matt Barriball and Zac VanFleet. Their rookies proved that they’ve learned strategy early and can further help round-out this powerhouse program. Roster depth and player development will be key if the Spartans look to take home a National Title come April. One has to wonder if the Spartans will let early victories get the best of them to take their foot off of the gas or if they’ll continue to push themselves through the season?
2) Grand Valley State – The Lakers still look like their past selves in this early 2022 season. They put on a show at the Sagnasty Classic going 3-0 against SVSU twice and WMU once. With only allowing 4 points againt them in 3 games while scoring 13 is an impressive 9 point differential. The Lakers love to play agressive on the backline mainly lead by the leadership of Ben Smart and Tyler Peach, but when they want to run down a team they will. Very impressive showing of working as a team to make great team throws and the veterans of this team know when to step up when needed. Will be exciting to see if they retake the number one spot after having more tournament time.
3) Ohio – Ohio had some concerns coming out of the John Betters Bobcat Bonanza III. They showcased their top-flight talent but their lack of cohesion caused them to stumble against an elite opponent in MSU. However, their showing at the Kentucky Invitational proved that they acknowledged these shortcomings and addressed them. In their rematch with Ohio State, the Bobcats’ communication and organization was much stronger, leading to less careless throws and greater court awareness. On a day when veteran Caleb Arnold was being heavily targeted early in games, the young guns stepped up and proved they can hang without his presence if needed. The Pink Out will be their best chance to confirm that they are a legitimate threat.
4) Penn State – Penn State is a team that did not play a single game in October. Riding high off their stellar performance at Maryland Madness keeps them at the 4 spot for now. We really do not know what to expect from them going forward. The Nittany Lions play fast and seem to thrive on chaos which can throw off a team not prepare for it. November 5th at Pink Out is this clubs best chance to really show the league what they’re made of. I do not know if they asked for this or this schedule was by chance, but Penn State has by far the most difficult one this weekend. With matches against Cincinnati, GVSU, Akron, and Ohio, this could be a make or break showing for them as a title contender. We know this club is good, but can they be great? We will get a better idea of that in just a couple days time.
5) Cincinnati- The Bearcats find themselves in an interesting position coming into November. They still have the talent, strategy, and transition game to be title contenders, but a lack of communication and consistency has led to some careless mistakes which became relevant in their losses against Ohio and MSU. If Cincinnati is able to clean up their inconsistency and play their game the way we know they can, expect them to climb back up in the rankings. The team has a tough schedule at Pink Out this Saturday with matches against Penn State, Miami, and Ohio. We hope to see that captains Cory Heitmann, Ryan Engelman, and Isaiah Montgomery will have this team ready. With a supporting cast of dangerous throwers like Brett Liming and Matthew Rosinski, Kevin Skiba snagging every catch like he’s done in the past, and a clean up on communication, Cincinnati can cement themselves back on top as title contenders.
6) Nebraska – The Cornhuskers picked up where they left off at nationals and go their first two wins of the season. They played well together and created several problems for UWP. They are one of the top catching teams in the league there is no questioning that. UNL is putting the effort in to show the league that they are a top 5 team and they shouldn’t be doubted. As a team, they are planning to get more games in this year before nationals and they have a chance next weekend to do just that at the Pioneer Classic.
7) James Madison – The Dukes had a great bounce back at Towson Throwdown with 3 dominant wins. Although none of those opponents were top contenders, so their ranking didn’t change much. Like Penn State, the opportunity for them to gain some respect is at Pink Out. With another tough schedule against Ohio, GVSU, and Akron, they can throw themselves right back into the title conversation. Last time this team traveled to Ohio early season, they came out disorganized and sloppy. I trust that captains Nick Spear and Trent Shaffer will have them ready this time. JMU always has throwers. If the supporting cast in the middle led by Patrick Kaczmarek, Jason Ball, and Nick Foss snag every catch like they did at Towson, not many can come close to beating them.
8) Ohio State – Ohio State has started the year with three straight 2-1 performances. The Buckeyes are still looking for their first big win against a title contender and 3-0 performance. This is a very young roster and is still waiting for Ryan Ginsberg and Derrek Kemper to be able to pinch throw again. This team will be tested with a match against GVSU this weekend and plans to travel to Penn State for some east coast games. OSU will have their chances to prove they are a title contender but will need to see improvements before they can be put in that conversation. Will this young roster be able to improve enough to be a contender come April?
9) Wisconsin Platteville – The Pioneers started out great on the season going 3-0, but at the Cornhusker Clash took some tough losses to a good UNL team. Platteville has the capabilities to compete with the top teams they just have to put it all together and keep working hard in practices to build chemistry. Their next action is the Pioneer Classic where they hope to build some momentum and start looking like the top team that they know they are capable of being.
10) Towson – Towson had a decent, but expected showing on their home floor. The question for this team is still whether or not the supporting players can develop into stars come Spring. Garrett Abbott and Nate Urlock will always be on point. Who’s up next though? That’s the question they’ll have to answer if they want to find themselves player in the quarterfinals again at Nationals. It is unfortunate we won’t get to see this team in action until Happy Valley Throwdown in December. Hopefully they can work on their game till then and be ready to make some noise when the opportunity presents itself.
11) Akron – Akron is so close to being a top 10 team. They have all the pieces they need to be a top 10 team: great throwers like PJ Antelek and Matthew Young, solid catchers like Clay Egleston and Wyatt Robinson, and a strategy that has kept them close in matches against tougher teams like OSU and Cincinnati. However, there have been a few instances of inconsistency where the Zips have made careless throwing mistakes and all of a sudden they had lost ball control. If they can work on being more consistent while on offense and have players like Ryan Curtis and Cooper Sites step up, expect Akron to make a statement in the very near future. This team has their toughest schedule yet at their home tournament this Saturday going up against BGSU, Penn State, and JMU, so this tournament will be a good indication as to where they stand in the league this season.
12) Saginaw Valley State – The Cardinals had a good showcase at their home tournament going 1-3 on the day. They beat WMU 8-0 but fell to GVSU 4-2 and 3-0. Lead by Joe Barber, Bryce Stevens, and Cole Machiele SVSU has great talent and keys to be able to win games against the reignig champs. Considering they put up the same amount of points against GVSU as a lower ranked WMU team, how can SVSU work on their consistency to be able to pull the big wins out of the bag. Hopefully we can see some more action out of this team soon.
13) Bowling Green State – The Falcon’s made their only appearance this month at the John Betters Bobcat Bonanza III where they went 1-2 with a win over Kent State and a loss to Ohio and to UC in overtime. The falcons find themselves in the same position as last month ranked number 13. Lead by Evan Brown, Joey Irwin, and Easton Huffman the Falcons will be back in action against Cleveland State, Akron, and Ohio State. If the Falcons want to take a step forward, they are going to need to beat either Akron or Ohio State. They have the talent to do so, now it is up to this young team to go out and prove themselves.
14) Maryland – The story is still the same for UMD. They are kind of sitting at the top of the bottom right now. Can usually handle lower teams, but can’t often hang with the top 10-12 of the league. Keep in mind, this is a very young team with only one player who was not a rookie last season. They have the talent, strategy, and coaching to break into the top 10, but often make one or two big mistakes which can hurt if you’re trying to knock off the best. Additionally, we have yet to see any of the rookies really step up into leaders for this group. There’s flashes of great plays, but not much consistency. We know what to expect from Adam Butz, Connor Engel, Zach Demos, and Caleb Dixon. What about the rest? The strength of depth for this team will show their potential. We will see them next in a doubleheader in Charlottesville vs UVA on November 13th. The Terps may be missing a couple of their more experienced players then which leads to a great opportunity for some rookies to break out.
15) Miami – The RedHawks have seen some major improvements since Nationals last season. With some wins under their belt as well as taking the lead against teams like Akron early in the season, not only has Miami gained a big confidence boost in their game, but have the talent that has helped them keep up with the upper half of teams in the league. With vocal leaders like Connor Smith and John Rick, solid throwers like Max Edling and Cole Ginocchio, as well as Elly Schipfer who’s proven herself to be a catching menace, Miami is looking to take that next big step to improving their game in their matchups against UC, CSU, and Kent at Pink Out.
16) Virginia – UVA is likely the most inexperienced team in the league, but they have talent for sure. At Towson Throwdown, the Cavaliers were missing a couple top players and lacked organization leading to 3 convincing defeats. I trust captains Cole Faggert and Wyndham White have this group working hard on their craft rolling into their doubleheader vs Maryland. You would assume they are not going into that shorthanded as they are hosting. So their squad should be similar to the one that almost shocked the league in the OT thriller vs JMU. November 13th is a huge opportunity for this club to pick up their first win of the year. As of now though, the Cavs have seen many high and low moments lacking much consistency.
17) Cleveland State – CSU only had one win in October (against Western Michigan). The Vikings went 1-2 at JBBB3. Although they lost against Michigan State and Miami, they put up a very strong fight against them and took them down to a few people every point. They also went 0-2 against Akron on the month, but kept up the fight the whole time and improved as they went. CSU has been putting in a lot of work and you can expect to see a lot of improvements from the team as a whole. Key players for CSU include Sky Thornsberry, who had 7 catches against Akron alone, Yo Sagnes with the most thrown outs and strongest voice on the court, and Kevin Premsook with a strong throw and absolutely no fear of anyone on the court. Look for this team to continue to improve as the season goes on.
18) Western Michigan – The Broncos have great promise this year, even though they have only had 11 people at both JBBB3 and Sagnasty Classic, they were able to take 2 points againt GVSU and make points agaisnt OSU come down to the wire. The biggest issue this team faces is being able to close out points and not make trivilous mistakes. Since going 0-5 on the year, the Broncos have been working hard to be able to get their first win of the year and move up in the rankings. Their next bout is at the Pioneer Classic which they will have a full 18 man roster present. How will the returning veterans in Evin Cooper, Evan Asselin, and Kyle Noble be able to work in with the promsing young talent in WMU’s new leader Matthew Barnett along with their excellent rookie class. We know what to expect from the captains in Ryan Allor, Randy Santana-Jimenez, and Joshua “Legolas” VanSlambrouck. How can these pieces all come together to produce W’s for the Bronco’s? Time will tell.
19) Kent State- Dodgeball at Kent is back! The Golden Flashes opened up this seasons’ action at JBBBIII where they saw three formidable opponents from the Ohio Region: Bowling Green, Akron, and Ohio. Kent State failed to pick up a point all day, ultimately falling to their adversaries by a combined score of 22-0. Granted, Kent only brought 9 players with them and were missing a few key starters, but we all know depth is important and that Kent will look to bounce back with higher numbers in future tournaments. For a team that lost handedly to all opponents, the Golden Flashes played a controlled and cohesive brand of dodgeball that made points very competetive. We’ll look for captain and president, Vanessa Hudson, to continue leading her team to the water, let’s see if their large group of rookies can step up and drink it.
20) Kentucky– University of Kentucky dodgeball was coming off a year in which they saw their two biggest on-court leaders graduate. The pressure is on returners like Robert Bennett, David Mead, and Skye Marvin to pick up the slack. The Wildcats hosted their first tournament since Nationals in 2017 just two weekends ago; this was their first and only action thus far. Kentucky lost to 3 tough opponents in Ohio, Ohio State, and Saginaw Valley by a combined score of 23-1, a dissapointing figure. Though, this could fairly be attributed to the absense of a couple key starters forcing them to play with just 8 players all day. Nonetheless, there were several positives to take away from, including Bennett securing not one, but two double catches on the day, along with David Mead creating several highlight throws and catches. UK will look to increase their numbers and experience as the season progresses, look for them to improve immensely and start churning out more wins.