Written by Grand Valley’s Kevin Bailey.
The Michigan Dodgeball Cup (MDC) has consistently been one of the premier tournaments in the NCDA’s regular season. That won’t change this year with five of the six participating teams ranked in the top 12 of the current national standings. The winner of this event, hosted by Michigan State University, is generally looked at as the favorite to win the national title a few months later. Here are my predictions for how this important tournament will transpire:
The pools for the MDC are as follows:
#1 seed- GVSU
#2 seed- CMU
#3 Seed- SHU
#1 seed- SVSU
#2 seed- MSU
#3 seed- DU
#1 Grand Valley State:
Grand Valley State, led by Captain Kevin Bailey and assistants Dylan Fettig and Pat Delling, should be heavily favored to come out of Pool A as the #1 seed. The Lakers are 19-0 on the season and ranked #1 in the NCDA. GVSU already has victories over Central Michigan and Siena Heights this season and with a more experienced roster than either of these teams it should be expected that Grand Valley wins both of their matchups and earns a spot in the championship game against the #1 team in Pool B.
#2 Central Michigan:
Central Michigan, led by Captain Wes Peters, and Assistant Captain Brett Hadwin, are just 4-7 so far this season. That record does not tell the whole story for CMU due to the tough schedule that they have faced. Look for Central Michigan to rely on their strength as a “catching team” and take the #2 seed in Pool A. The key for CMU in this tournament is for the the back end of their roster to be more productive. This would give the Chippewas a huge boost, because the past few years CMU has been a very top heavy team.
#3 Siena Heights:
Siena Heights led by Captain Mike McCarthy, has had an up and down season so far. This year has included blowout losses to teams like CMU and GVSU, but also seen SHU take 2nd Place in the MSU Invite thanks to upset victories over Kent State and Ohio State (the top two teams in the Ohio region). If SHU can bring their full roster to this tournament, they could be a huge wildcard in my eyes. I don’t think they will to take down Central or Grand Valley, but look for Siena Heights to perform at a much higher level than they have all year.
#1 Saginaw Valley State:
At this point in the season I believe Saginaw Valley State is one of the most underrated teams in college dodgeball. With players like Captain Max Siler, Spencer Jardine, Myles Shepard, and Zach Phelps, this team is positioned to have a very strong second semester. The last few years SVSU has played well at MDC, including a championship in 2012. My guess is that the Cardinals have a tough time against a much improved MSU squad, but get the win in that game, which will likely decide the #1 seed for Pool B.
#2 Michigan State:
Michigan State is another underrated team in my opinion. Don’t look too closely at their 4-9 record, because this team is much better than they have played so far this year. MSU Captain Mike Van Ermen and assistant captains Andy Lieblich and Colin O’Brien lead a team that is a good mix of experience and young talent. I don’t think the Spartans will have enough playmakers to take down SVSU, but expect them to compete well on their home court with close to a full roster.
Davenport is the least experienced team in the Michigan region heading into this event. The Panthers, led by Captain Han Chittisane are in their first season as a member of the National Collegiate Dodgeball Association. Don’t expect any huge upsets from DU at the MDC since they will be competing against two well established NCDA members in SVSU and MSU. While DU will most likely come out of Pool B with an 0-2 record, the experience that the team will get from this tournament will be very important for them moving forward.
5th Place Game: SHU vs. DU
Siena Heights should get their first win of the day against Davenport in a matchup between two 1st year teams. SHU has proven to be a dangerous team when they have their full roster, and with the leadership of former MDC champ Mike McCarthy, I don’t see them going 0-3 in this tournament.
3rd Place Game: CMU vs. MSU
This should be one of the closest games played all day. In their second matchup of the season I expect MSU to get a win over CMU and earn 3rd Place. While CMU is currently ranked ahead of MSU in the standings, I don’t see this as much of an upset. The difference in this game is going to be MSU’s superior roster depth. Watch out for a few MSU rookies to make a surprisingly big impact and give the Spartans a big win over Central.
Championship Game: GVSU vs. SVSU
I predict that one of the best rivalries in college dodgeball will be renewed in the MDC Championship Game. GVSU and SVSU have met 3 times this year with GVSU coming out on top each time. I expect this to be one of the closest games of the Michigan Dodgeball Cup with GVSU keeping their undefeated season alive with a victory. Don’t be surprised if this isn’t the last matchup between the two teams this season. This game just may be a preview of a matchup in the final four or even the championship game at Nationals 2014.