Power Rankings: Preseason 2021-22

Team writeups provided by the NCDA Power Ranking Panel

1) Grand Valley State

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GVSU looks to continue their winning ways in the 2021-2022 season. The Lakers return plenty of familiar faces, including 2020 Player of the Year Ben Smart, former captain Josh Hill, and assistant captain Nick Hehl. These three all have big game experience and know how to lead their team to success. Tyler Peach is the new name to know from this team. He takes the team over this year as head captain. As a freshman the year COVID hit, he only has half a year of game experience. What he lacks in experience though he more than makes up for in talent, so expect this guy to just keep getting better. GVSU was limited to practice only last season but still managed to bring in a few promising recruits. Among them is Owen Israels, who already looks to have the composure of a veteran despite not playing in a match yet. For those hoping GV would finally have a down year, looks like that’s going to have to wait.

2) Ohio State

At the end of the 2020 season it was looking as if the Buckeyes were going to make a run at the National Championship. A pandemic blew those plans up, but now it looks like Ohio State is in prime position to make a run this season too. Returning All-American Dylan Greer and Women’s MVP Kathryn Mays will help develop their young talent into top tier players. Standouts should include Captains Ryan Ginsberg and Ben Dardia who made great strides in the 2019-2020 season, and I don’t expect them to slow down their game performances. THE Ohio State University will be a force to be reckoned with this season.

3) Towson

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Returning 16 players coming into the season, the Towson Tigers are poised to make another run at defending their national championship. That isn’t to say that this team won’t be missing some familiar faces, they’re just that deep with talent. Come April, you can expect the Tigers to likely make the Final Four – but make no mistake, the Tigers expect to add another plate with their name on it to the National Championship Trophy.

4) Cincinnati

The Bearcats come into the 2021/22 season positioned better than the majority of teams coming off a full year away from competitive dodgeball. They managed to only lose one player, albeit a very promising assistant captain, during their time off. Further, they picked up Jacob Weber, Akron’s former captain. Expect big things from this young squad, they were voted 4th despite not having played a full season of dodgeball yet for a reason.

5) James Madison

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The Dukes always have a strong history of recruiting well and developing their players to be household names throughout the east coast and All-Americans within the NCDA. They’re looking to take back the title of being the top team on the east coast. Expect them to have a successful season once again and make a serious push towards the final four.

6) Michigan State

If there is one team that has the right to feel sorry for themselves due to COVID, it is the Michigan State Spartans. This team was absolutely stacked in spring 2020 when everything shut down, and now they only return about 10 players total, and we don’t know the quality of that 10. I can tell you that 2019-20 ROTY Barry Butler III is among them, so this team will still be competitive and remains a team to reckon with no matter what the rest of the roster looks like.

7) Central Michigan

Another team that was poised to have a strong 2020/21 season, the Chips do return 12 this year, so expect them to be amongst the better teams in Michigan. When CMU has a down year, they’ve historically followed it with a massive wave of success, so I expect a strong recruiting class and even potentially some surprising in-state success this fall.

8) Saginaw Valley State

Returning 15, expect this Saginaw Valley team to be young, but competitive. They return 8 sophomores, so they will absolutely incur some growing pains as they attempt to return this storied program to a position of glory and success. If they’re anything like SVSU teams of years past, expect them to take their lumps in the fall but to come on strong in the spring.

9) Maryland

A team that has been “slept on” by the league on numerous occasions and doesn’t receive the same amount of coverage as their east coast counterparts JMU, Towson, and VCU. Despite the fact that they have a travel restriction that prevents them from traveling long distances outside of college park, this is a cohesive unit that have excellent chemistry and teamwork. Don’t sleep on them.

10) Akron

The Zips are another fortunate team who return virtually every single player from pre-COVID. They will face an early test, as OSU has a tournament in the works for September. With coaches Colby Briceland and Adam Pfeifer helping out, don’t be surprised if Akron moves up the standings and our next power ranking very quickly.

11) Bowling Green State

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BGSU has had success in recruiting most seasons and I don’t expect the case to be any different here. With returning veterans to help groom the new talent, the Falcons should have another successful season, which has become the status quo for the last few seasons. As one of the top teams in Ohio, they look to get some reps in early to regain their sea legs when it comes to game speed. Expect this squad to catch their stride early and keep their foot on the gas pedal throughout the season.

12) Penn State

We really don’t have a lot of information about this team outside of the fact that they have played more tournaments in the Ohio region in the past 3 years than they have played in east coast tournaments in their history, and that they return at least 12 players. We really don’t know what to expect from this team come NCDA Nationals 2022, but if there’s a year where anything can happen and Penn State can make a deep run, it would be this one.

13) Virginia Commonwealth

VCU has seen some good talent come and go in the past and the last year and a half is no exception to that. All is not lost for the Rams though heading into the upcoming season. Ike Fleckenstein returns for his last season and will likely be the x factor that keeps this team competitive in games. Matthias Hammond and Hunter Bishop will be stepping into their first season as leaders of the team after showing promise as freshmen the last time they played. VCU is a team that has mostly relied on strong catchers to be competitive in the past, and hopefully a good recruiting class will bring them just that.

14) Wisconsin Platteville

UWP has been the number 1 team in their region for almost their entire tenure in the league, and this year will be no different. Returning a large amount of their roster and captains from last season, they are expected to have a decent showing when they have their first tournament.

15) Miami

Another powerhouse of the Ohio region bitten by the COVID graduation bug, Miami is banking on a strong class of rookies to fill the void for those who left, particularly former Captain Tom Morand. They do return lefty cannon Dom Tyburski and standout rookie Thomas McCants, so with some good recruiting they should be able to quickly develop new talent and return to prominence before long.

16) North Georgia

Since their inception into the league, this team has been on the rise. Taking the top spot in the southern region is no easy feat, and they’ve done it. Expect this squad to have some exciting inter region matches this season and if they travel up north, we could be in for a treat for some great match ups.

17) Ohio

The Bobcats climbed the ranking system all the way up to the number #2 spot only to have their championship season derail by the pandemic. Now the team has to start over not from ground zero but with a mixture of veterans and young talent. Expect them to have some early struggles but get progressively stronger throughout the season.

18) Nebraska

UNL has been on the rise since their introduction into the league, growing their skills and talent year after year. This effectively soft reset of the league has a chance to work in the team’s favor this upcoming season. UNL tends to have some of the largest recruiting classes in the league and we can expect to see that once again. This should bring with it some fresh talent. With a more even playing field as a result of the hiatus, they just might have what it takes to get to the top of the Midway.

19) Kentucky

The University of Kentucky will be hoping for a strong recruiting class this fall, as they do return eight players from before the pandemic. With some new, promising talent, expect this team to attend as many tournaments as they can to develop into a competitor for the South Region Championship once again.

20) Kent State

Even with 8 returning starters, Kent State looks to be facing some growing pains. With talks of a tournament, or a series of scrimmages in the works, they should quickly gain experience and hopefully confidence as well as the Golden Flashes are another team looking to rebuild and return to the days of their former glory.

Author: Kevin Bailey

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

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