What is happening to the Michigan Region?
Grand Valley is still… Grand Valley. But outside of the Lakers, the rest of the region seems a bit off so far this season. Michigan State is currently the second best team in the region, but they have lost by multiple points in each of their games against GVSU, and in one of their only games against a non-Michigan team (BGSU), they lost in overtime. Meanwhile, Central Michigan has been nowhere near the caliber of team that they were a season ago when they made the Final Four. The Chips have some work to do to get back to reaching their potential. Then there is SVSU, sitting at 2-7 currently. The Cardinals had a rough first semester, but they are known to turn it on in the winter and become a contender, so the jury is still out on them. Lastly, Western Michigan has played only against GVSU, so they are yet to get their first win. The feeling around the league is that the Michigan Region has significantly regressed, and will have only one team (GVSU) even make the Final Four this year. The state that back in 2017 held all four spots in the Final Four, now looks much more average. But maybe this is all a big overreaction. Michigan State is still loaded with talent, and a few content team members expect the Spartans to make the National Title Game still. CMU had a rough first semester, but they have most of the same players from a year ago, so if they can get in a groove, a Final Four run shouldn’t be ruled out. And we all know SVSU improves dramatically in the second half of the season. It was a lackluster first half to the season for the state of Michigan, but it will be fun to watch how each team performs this semester leading up to Nationals.
Is Ohio this year’s Towson?
A deep and talented team in search of their first national title in school history. A team that communicates and plays extraordinarily well together, led by a cannon-armed MVP candidate. A team that stormed out of the gates to start the season and looks like the best bet to take down juggernaut GVSU. Who was I just describing? Sounds a lot like what someone would’ve said about Towson a year ago at this time. But, in fact, I’m talking about the Ohio Bobcats. Yeah, that team that back in 2016 went 0-29. Ohio has had a historic rise over the past few seasons, and things are looking great in Athens this year. The Bobcats are undefeated on the year, and it seems everyone is looking forward to seeing them matchup with GVSU. Jake Larsen is an MVP candidate, but he is far from the only standout on this team. Ohio is DEEP, just like 2018-19 Towson. Zach Howman is a star in the NCDA, Josh Warneke is having a strong season, Dusty Moell is one of the most entertaining players to watch in the NCDA, and Noah Ourant seems to be as clutch as any player in the country. Ohio is loaded, and they play well together. In the words of a leader for another team in the region “Ohio looks like a team built to win”. Sounds a lot like 2018-19 Towson, and we all know how that ended for them…
Is everyone overlooking Towson?
As Shadeed Drakeford mentioned in the most recent NCDA Podcast, Towson looks like a team that is ‘reloading’, not ‘rebuilding’. Sure the fall semester wasn’t their finest hour, but they were going through a little bit of a transition, with some new contributors stepping into larger roles. Bottom line is this team is still stocked with power arms. The winter/spring will show us a much more prepared Towson team. Do not be surprised when they pull off some dominant wins on the East Coast, and enter Nationals as a popular pick to win it all. The Towson Tigers are the defending champs. It feels like a few losses this fall has taken them off everyone’s radar, but that should not be the case. This group still has championship potential. It will be interesting to see how much they ascend over the next few months.
Which team outside of the Big 3 Regions will have the best second semester?
Outside of Michigan / Ohio / East Coast there are some teams that are very interesting to follow heading into the second half of the season. A good storyline to keep an eye on will be which of these teams from a non-Big 3 Region has the best second half to the season. Wisconsin Platteville is a good pick due to how frequently they are able to exceed expectations at Nationals. With that said, they are not the only Midway team to keep an eye on. Nebraska took UWP to overtime in their last matchup, so maybe the Cornhuskers will be late risers this year. In the South Region, Kentucky and North Georgia are the top two teams right now, and there is a chance that either one could land in the Championship Bracket at Nationals, but Georgia Southern is a team to keep an eye on. This young team is making strides, and maybe they will be the South team that surprises everyone at Nationals with a strong showing.
How will the crowded Ohio Region sort out come April?
We covered Ohio University already, but it would be a disservice to have an article on storylines without covering the rest of this region. Ohio is a deep and talented region. If I had told someone that a couple years ago they would have laughed in my face, but now it’s the truth. The Ohio Bobcats are undefeated and the current top team in the state, but they are not the only title contender. Miami was a popular Final Four pick to start the year, and despite a few tough losses in the fall, they are a team that should not be overlooked. Morand, Corotis, Tyburski is a great top three arms for any team. Miami looks like one of those squads that you will not want to face in bracket play because if they are hitting on all cylinders they are tough to beat. Ohio State has been a very pleasant surprise this year. The Buckeyes stormed out to a fast start at their home tournament to start the fall, and haven’t really slowed down. With only a few losses on their resume, OSU is in the mix in the Ohio Region. Bowling Green is a tough team to figure out right now, but they have shown the potential to take down a powerhouse like Michigan State, so they will be very much in the mix as well. Rounding out the region, Akron is doing a solid job of transitioning after losing a crazy amount of their firepower from a year ago. Cincinnati is another pleasant surprise. They could shock the world and make the top 16 in their second season if they have a strong semester. Cleveland State has some serious star power at the top of their lineup, and while they are inconsistent, they have the ability to make some things happen. Kent State used to be the first team mentioned in this region, but clearly they are in the midst of a rebuild. Overall, the Ohio Region is a fascinating one to follow. The winter/spring will feature a few great tournaments in the region (WAR, ODC, and of course Nationals), so it’s safe to say Ohio will be the center of the College Dodgeball world for the next few months.
This winter/spring is setting up to be very exciting. The league continues to grow, and talent continues to spread. With so many teams in position to contend, the second half to the 2019-20 season should be one for the books.