Team writeups provided by the NCDA Power Ranking Panel
1) Michigan State – Textbook start to the year for the Spartans. MSU travelled to JBBBIII and went undefeated with convincing wins over two top 5 programs (Cincinnati and Ohio). Pretty solid resume if you ask us. Michigan State proved to everyone they are in the title conversation. With plenty of veterans on the roster paired with some young talent, this feels like a team that will progress quite a bit this year while maintaining more consistency than MSU teams of the past. So when can we expect that first GVSU vs. MSU matchup?
2) Grand Valley State – Grand Valley State didn’t see any action in the month of September. The Lakers will be off and running this month, starting their season off at Saginaw Valley State University this weekend. With some shakeups at the top of the standings already this season, it will be interesting to see how the Lakers perform out the gate this year. How strong is GVSU’s rookie class, and how much of a leap will their 2021-22 rookie class make?
3) Penn State – Penn State really backed up their preseason talk with complete domination over the East Coast at Maryland Madness including a statement 5-2 win over region favorite and title contender JMU. Leadership by captain Mason Blanchard and sophomore progression from last year’s standout freshman class will determine if the Nittany Lions can break into the NCDA’s elite. Hunter Stewart, Cloud Tapio-Manon, and Joey Tiger are second year players who I reckon will be big names come Nationals.
4) Ohio – The Bobcats came out of the gate smoking hot with a big 3-0 showing at the Buckeye Showcase, erasing a three-point deficit against Ohio State and taking down a stacked Cincinnati team in overtime. This team has the arm talent to hang with anybody, especially with some standout play by younger players like Terence Checkett and Judson Jones. But the real story of this team has been the continued dominance of veteran leader Caleb Arnold. Arnold is playing at an otherworldly level right now and was far and away one of the best ballers of the month with his ability to dig his team out of almost any hole. However, Michigan State exposed some of their flaws at the JBBBIII. Ohio can’t solely rely on Arnold to bail them out of 1v4s every point, and they’ll need to make some big strides in their communication and organization if they want to consistently hang with (and take down) the top dogs in the league.
5) Cincinnati- The Cincinnati Bearcats find themselves in an unfamiliar position relative to their recent successes last season. Already having dropped two matches on the season to Ohio and Michigan State, they slide in at number 5 in our October Power Rankings. Despite finishing 2-1 last weekend at the 3rd annual JBBB, the Bearcats looked disorganized, uncommunicative, and at times like they would rather be anywhere else but on the court. It’s early in the season, but based upon their results so far, Cincinnati will have to work hard to truly be considered National Championship contenders come April.
6) Ohio State – The Ohio State Buckeyes have started the year with a 4-2 record, including two wins against Akron and close losses to Ohio and UC. Due to the injuries of some of their top throwers, rookies and second year players have had to step up into important roles for the Buckeyes, and they have not disappointed. Ohio State will need to get healthier and work on closing out points more efficiently to beat top teams. However, this team is very young and has plenty of time to grow. Do they have the talent and potential to grow into a National Championship contender?
7) Nebraska – The Nebraska Cornhuskers really burst onto the national scene of college dodgeball at Nationals last April, where the entire league finally got a chance to see them compete. Boasting a roster full of strong arms, great leadership & communication, and the overall talent & cohesion to compete with any club, they look to open their 2022-23 campaign with their annual Cornhusker Clash against Wisconsin-Platteville. Will their high ranking prove to be merited, or will “Corn and Protein, Baby” turn out to be more of just a meme than a mantra for the Cornhuskers? We expect this team to be ready to compete this weekend, so don’t miss this doubleheader!
8) James Madison – The Dukes did not have an overly impressive first showing of the year at Maryland Madness. A big loss to Penn State and two surprisingly close overtime wins versus Towson and Virginia. Although The Dukes were far from full strength with reigning NCDA MVP Evan Eschenburg sitting most of the points, captain Nick Spear with a hand injury, and no James (JT) Turner. However, we still expected a bit more from a team that many thought could challenge Grand Valley State for the NCDA Title. We will see them in action again this Sunday, October 9th at Towson Throwdown versus Maryland, Towson, and Virginia. Can they shake off this uncharacteristic early start?
9) Wisconsin Platteville – UWP is back and they are taking a different mindset and approach to this season. They want to make the leap and be a top tier team in the league. They are off to a good start, going 3-0 at the Redhawk Classic, but they have a tough challenge this weekend in playing the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. If they can beat the Cornhuskers, they are certainly on their way to achieving their goal. UWP knows that even if they get the wins this weekend they still have a lot to prove to themselves and to the rest of the league, but the Pioneers are fine with a challenge and are poised to take it to the next level!
10) Towson – Hard to know what exactly to expect from the Tigers this year with the loss of the Friedman brothers and captain Griffin Bass. Towson had a decent showing at Maryland Madness with a narrow comeback 2-1 win over UMD, OT 4-3 loss to JMU, and a 3-1 loss to Penn State. Senior s Nate Urlock and Garrett Abbott stood out and look ready to lead the squad even after Kyle Strong departs following the Fall semester. One thing we did not get to see was any of Towson’s recruiting class as none of them were able to make it out to UMD due to parent’s weekend. They are hosting this Sunday, the 9th and will play UVA, UMD, and JMU. Could be a big opportunity for Towson to climb some spots in the rankings.
11) Saginaw Valley State – Not much to discuss for the Cardinals yet this year. Their first tournament of the season is this weekend against Grand Valley State and Western Michigan. We will have a much better idea of where this team stands after those games. Will SVSU’s 2021-22 rookies take that next step into full on stardom? Can the Cardinals produce enough depth to truly be a threat to top Michigan Region competition like GVSU and MSU? All eyes will be on the Sagnasty Classic this Saturday!
12) Akron – The Zips had a rough start to the year going 0-3 with losses to Ohio, UC, and OSU. They were able to bounce back and went 2-1 in their next 2 tournaments with strong performances against Miami, BGSU, and Kent State. The Zips look to build on those strong performances and hope to stray away from their inconsistent self from last year. Communication has been a key issue for the Zips in losses to OSU and UWP. This team has a lot of veterans and returning players which will need to step into key roles and perform if the Zips look to fight for a top spot in the Ohio region and could potentially be considered a dark horse come Nationals.
13) Bowling Green State – Don’t let the record fool you, the Falcons seem to be getting their feet under them as the 2022 season gets underway. After the Redhawk Classic and JBBBIII, the falcons sit at 2-4 with two of the losses (Akron & Cincinnati) coming in overtime. Sophomore stand outs Josh Boyers, Evan Maynard, and Evan Brown have picked up right where they left off at the end of the 2021 season, and rookies Dalton Curran and AJ Brower have come bursting onto the scene. This young Falcon squad has shown flashes of what could be a top team in the league. Flashes don’t generally translate to wins, however. If the Falcons want to have success this season, they need to keep working on their fundamentals and find their identity as the season goes on.
14) Maryland – UMD had a great showing on their home court. Connor Engel seems to be taking captain’s duties in stride. Additionally, 2nd year players Zach Demos and Caleb Dixon appear to be ready to boost the Terps this year as well as the next couple seasons with big time production increases in just the first showing of the year. Sophomore Adam Butz looks like a legit All East Coast, potentially All American player racking up kill after kill for the Terps with 12 in their 2-1 victory over UVA alone. This team may not play the prettiest form of dodgeball with a slow, methodical approach, but that style gives them the opportunity to hang with the best if they maintain ball control and get timely catches.
15) Virginia – Hard to imagine there being a story nearly as big as Penn State from Maryland Madness, but UVA came back strong after their first NCDA matches in nearly a year. Despite losing their 3 matches, they surprised many with the number of talented throwers as well as catching prowess shown off in them nearly shocking East Coast favorite JMU. We still do not know much about this team other than that they are from an easy win and maybe UVA’s most deep team in program history. Catch them Sunday, October 9th versus Maryland, JMU, and Towson. Maybe they will be able to finish off one of these close games and get a statement win to shoot them up the rankings.
16) Miami – Finally in the winner’s column, Miami is our 16th ranked team in our eyes at the moment. Might they be worthy of a slightly higher ranking? Perhaps. They went 2-1 this past weekend, securing wins over Western Michigan and Cleveland State, but dropping a match to Akron. It’s already very apparent that this is not the same Miami team we saw last year. Numerous players in this roster seem to be taking solid sophomore leaps, and it’s not hard to envision them continuing to trend upward as the season progresses.
17) Cleveland State – The Vikings entered the year with modest expectations surrounding them. While this team is yet to prove they are contenders in the Ohio Region, we are seeing progress and improvement. With solid leadership on this roster, it shouldn’t come as a major surprise that they were able to secure a win over up-and-coming Western Michigan at JBBBIII. Keep in mind, 3 of CSU’s 4 losses this year are against teams within the top 6 of the PR. Not an easy schedule by any stretch of the imagination.
18) Western Michigan – The Broncos have been struggling with getting people for tournaments with John Betters’ Bobcat Bonanza and Sagnasty Classic only being able to get 11 people on the court. Once Western can have their whole roster be able to go to a tournament they will see better results. The Captains have been looking good and the rookies give the Broncos a huge skill ceiling but also a low floor, managing this will be the Bronco’s key to success.
19) Kent State- A definite rebuilding year for Kent State, but an important step forward for them nonetheless as they traveled to the JBBBIII last weekend & played their first matches of the season. Kent has a proud, rich history of success within the NCDA, and it will be great once they return to being a consistently competitive team.
20) Kentucky– The Wildcats round out our October Power Rankings coming in at 20. While they have yet to play a match, the word is they have a large rookie class they are very excited about and are chomping at the bit to get them some in-game experience. Hopefully we see them in action soon!