As we inch closer to yet another season of collegiate dodgeball, I thought it would be good to start a series of top 5 lists for you all. So, for the remainder of the off-season we will be shelling out a new top 5 list once every 5 days! Today’s top five is on the most anticipated matchups for the upcoming season. Stay tuned because we have a number of great lists coming your way in the future. Next week’s list: Top 5 Breakout Stars for 2016-17. Anyway, enjoy the first of many top 5 lists to come:
1. Grand Valley State vs. Central Michigan
Well, let’s start with the most obvious choice. These two schools have battled it out in the National Title Game three separate times, including the last two years. If I had to decide right now, I would say these two schools will clash once again for the championship next April.
What more can be said about these two teams, really? Both teams are destined for greatness once again in 2016-17. GVSU has won the last four National Championships, but must replace a few All-Americans when they take the court again this fall. Sophomore Brand Meisel will lead the way as the new captain for a team that is still young and full of potential. Keep in mind GVSU held four of the 15 spots on the NCDA All-Rookie Team. I don’t see this group dropping off at all.
On the other side we have Central Michigan. The Chippewas have an embarrassment of talent on their roster. Mike Riley and Zach Bachner both return after All-American campaigns in 2015-16. Shane Willette and Tyler Prill are two of the most underrated guys in the country (stay tuned for my top 5 underrated players list…). With star players like Alex Holzgen, Scott La Valley, Ian Ryan, etc. rounding out the top end of their roster, it’s easy to see why people will be afraid to play CMU next year.
It’s safe to say that when GVSU and CMU collide next season, it is going to be a fantastic game to watch.
2. James Madison vs. Towson
Boy did this turn into an interesting rivalry towards the end of last season. Towson was able to pull off their first ever win over JMU last spring at the MVEC tournament. It was an impressive 3-1 victory that might end up representing the changing of the guard out east. The first matchup between these two schools will be one to watch as JMU will try to avenge their most recent loss to the Tigers while TU will look to continue their upward trajectory as a program.
3. Saginaw Valley State vs. Ohio State
Let’s be real here, who doesn’t want to see a rematch of this thriller from Nationals? Ohio State and Saginaw Valley State played an epic game last spring at BGSU. The quarterfinals matchup had the feel of a final four game at the very least. While the highlight of that game was a below the belt shot on Kyle Foster, it should be remembered for more than that. The Buckeyes and Cardinals must be itching to get back on the court to play eachother again, because their last clash was one of the closest games I have seen in a while.
4. Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky
I’ll start by saying that I don’t expect this to be a close match, especially at the start of the year. I think Kentucky is a top-5 caliber team for next year, and they will have the upper hand from the start of the year. Bottom line is I just really look forward to seeing both these teams in action.
WKU has made some steady improvements over the past two years. The leaders of their team are very interested in becoming an elite NCDA squad, so I can’t wait to see how they do in 2016-17. Kentucky, as I mentioned, is a solid team (proven by how they played at Nationals in April). Will this be the year that they come out of the gate with momentum and build a solid record up before Nationals (like they did in 2013, the last time they hosted). I really think this could be the year UK makes a push at another final 4 appearance. But their first order of business will be to not overlook the improving Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky…
5. North Georgia vs. Anybody
I’m kind of cheating here, but that’s alright. My fifth matchup on this list is simply any matchup with North Georgia involved. This is a new team in the NCDA, so I am waiting in anticipation for their inaugural match. Having a team in Georgia could help the NCDA continue to expand. And who know’s, maybe they are loaded with talent!