Team writeups provided by the NCDA Power Ranking Panel
1) Grand Valley State- Back on top for the… *checks notes* 11th time, the Lakers once again saved their best for last this season. In a year (especially Day 1 of Nationals), where the league seemed more wide open than ever, of course the Lakers ripped through everyone in bracket play (by a combined 20-4 score) to win the title. Ben Smart was sensational on Sunday of Nationals, Josh Hill’s cannon arm was on full display (per usual), quite honestly the entire team put it together when it mattered most. The unsung heroes of this season might be the GVSU rookie class, led by Matt Budai and Ryan Paddock. Don’t look now, but GVSU only loses a few starters, so this might be the start of another title streak for the Lakers.
2) Michigan State – What a year. Michigan State came up one game short of their first ever national title, but that shouldn’t take away from arguably the best season in team history. MSU won the MDC (finally), and took down GVSU twice during the regular season. They certainly have some things to shore up, but the core of contributors on this roster makes for a very promising future. Maybe 2023 is their year?
3) James Madison – The Dukes find themselves back as the top team in the East Coast, right where they told everyone they belonged. Evan Eschenburg and Drew Funk headlined a strikingly deep and talented squad that came to Nationals with a lot to prove. Making the Final Four (and nearly the Title Game), it’s safe to say, they proved themselves. With a strong postseason run and only losing a few players to graduation, expect the Dukes to be right back in the mix for their 1st championship.
4) Cincinnati – After being a top one or two ranked team much of the year, Cincinnati fell in the semifinals to eventual champions Grand Valley. The Bearcats had a hell of a year for such a young program, winning the Ohio Dodgeball Cup and winning over 20 matches. Despite losing seniors Matt Rosinski, Luke Grace, and Adam Holtz, look for them to build upon this successful season and be right back in the mix, competing at a high level again in the fall. A strong rookie class will do them wonders..
5) Towson- After a rough start in the 2nd semester, the Tigers were able to put their best foot forward towards the end of the season and surprised a lot of teams around the league. Coming one out away from another Final Four in what was clearly a down year for Towson… just shows this program is here to stay. While they’re losing the Friedman brothers and Griffin Bass, don’t expect this team to go anywhere anytime soon.
6) Ohio State – Ohio State may have come up short at Nationals, falling to runners-up Michigan State, but the season was still a success for the Buckeyes. They were able to quickly develop a strong recruiting class, and have many returners. It would be shocking if OSU wasn’t one of the top teams in the Ohio region again next year, fighting for the Cup and looking to build upon their performance this past April.
7) Ohio – You want to talk about a team making quick strides? Look no further than the Ohio Bobcats. While they leaned a lot on veterans Caleb Arnold and Alex Jonauskas, they recruited and developed a massive rookie class this year, and by the end of the season were considered a dark horse to win Nationals. The sophomore leap will be real with this team..
8) Nebraska – “Corn and protein, baby!” A better quote has yet to be uttered around the NCDA, as we witnessed Colby Chohrach and the Nebraska Cornhuskers put the league on notice at Nationals. Losing only two seniors, UNL will be looking to reach heights not yet seen by a team from the Midway region. Rumor has it they want to head farther east than Wisconsin sooner rather than later next season..
9) Penn State – Penn State had one of its most successful seasons in team history, reaching to the Elite 8 for the first time. While they lose captains Christian Iannuzzelli & Brady Eck, they still have a great mix of veterans and underclassmen coming through the ranks. Expect them to be a strong pillar within the East Coast.
10) Bowling Green – We seem to keep referencing big rookie classes in this iteration of the Power Rankings, but it’s true for Bowling Green as well. They too recruited some great talent this year, and were very competitive by the spring semester, picking up some massive overtime wins against Ohio and Penn State in the last 2.5 months alone. The Falcons may lose some senior leaders, but this team will be a problem next season nonetheless.
11) Saginaw Valley State – Bottom line, this was a rebuild season for SVSU. Despite coming in with a depleted roster, Saginaw worked their tails off to piece together a winner. Thanks to a strong rookie class, headlined by All-Michigan selection Cole Machiela, SVSU stormed back to relevance in the second half of the season, and nearly knocked off Ohio State in a thrilling round of 16 game at Nationals. Look out for an improved SVSU in 2022-23.
12) Wisconsin Platteville – Wisconsin Platteville was another team that was a pleasant surprise at Nationals. After a somewhat poor showing on Day 1 (OT loss to SVSU in their closest matchup), UWP came out and put together a stellar performance in bracket play. The Pioneers gave Cincinnati a run for their money, leading for part of the game in that round of 16 matchup. With some talented players like 2021-22 rookie Caleb Newell returning, this team may be a popular top 10 pick for the preseason.
13) Akron – Competitive with top teams in the league all season, the Zips had a very successful season. Big wins over Michigan State and Towson tell a promising story for this club. They did a fabulous job recruiting this fall, and expect them to take yet another step forward next season. The Ohio region is going to be TOUGH to win in 2022/23, and the Zips will be a big reason why.
14) Maryland – While the Terps had some growing pains throughout the season, they never made excuses or backed down from their opponents. Captain Daniel Fernald did an amazing job leading the Terps and incoming Captain, Connor Engel will have to pick up where Daniel left off. Maryland will be losing Fernald, Alec Goodman, and Bryce Bathras, but the team is extremely young and their future is bright.
15) Cleveland State- CSU finishes the season at #15 after a decent showing at Nationals. CSU was especially impressive in their Saturday match against GVSU, where they kept the game close and forced the eventual champions to sweat for most of the match. CSU won their play-in game to make the top 16. Look for them to improve next year if they can secure a solid recruiting class in the fall.
16) Western Michigan – The host team of Nationals slots in at 16th on our Power Rankings, their highest ranking to date. The Broncos boasted a promising 13 player roster for their home tournament, and graduate very few, though it does include founder and Captain Peter Broe. Nonetheless, the program is in a fantastic spot to build off of, and we anticipate them winning their first matches in program history next season.
17) Miami – Miami, as we’ve mentioned all season, has been in the throes of a rebuild this year, but have come out the other side of the season with a promising young class of talent, and finally secured their first win of the season at Nationals to show for their hard work all year. Combine another strong recruiting class with developing sophomores this fall and you have a RedHawks team firmly back on the upswing in the NCDA.
18) Kentucky – This year was a tough one for the Wildcats, bringing eight players to their last two tournaments (including Nationals), but they were able to make some progress as a program. While they do lose some top end veteran talent, they did have a decent recruiting class, and if they can do the same next season, expect UK to stop worrying about sheer numbers, and instead look at winning a lot more matches.
19) Virginia– UVA had arguably one of their best teams in school history. Unfortunately, they were only able to play in two tournaments in the fall. Captain Jake Korman will be graduating this semester; someone else will need to step up in his place for UVA to keep them on the right track.
20) Virginia Commonwealth – VCU is currently going through their 3rd rebuild in their school history. The pandemic did a number on their club membership, as they lost many to graduation. VCU legend, Hunter Ford, will be making his return as Coach for the Rams and he will be responsible for turning this team around next season.