Two historic programs collide as the #3 Michigan State Spartans (7-1-0) and the #6 Grand Valley State Lakers (3-1-0) will play a match December 2nd at the Grand Valley Fieldhouse Arena. Expect a great atmosphere as the Lakers try to stay unbeaten all-time against the Spartans, but this game should be a close one.
Michigan State is currently on a seven game winning streak, having given up only 3 points in that stretch while scoring 32 points. Led by a strong senior class, the Spartans definitely will have experience playing against a tough opponent like GVSU. However, they still need to get over the hurdle of finally beating the Lakers. The closest they’ve come is a 2-1 loss to GVSU in the National Semifinals at Nationals 2011, and last year’s decisions were a 7-1 and a 5-0 loss to the the Lakers. Both of those scorelines don’t tell the tale of the games, as it was a heavily depleted Spartan squad that lost 7-1 and MSU had a good chance in multiple points in the 5-0 Michigan Dodgeball Cup loss. With some talented players who are hungry for a victory over GVSU, expect Michigan State to play hard and desperate.
The Lakers, led by Mark Trippiedi, have some of the most talented players in the entire league, whether it’s all-around Dylan Fettig, power arm Josh Stevenson, or catcher extraordinaire Kyle Peltier, GVSU has a lot of depth. They also have great leadership and even better teamwork, which is why they’ve made it to the National Championship game every season they’ve been a club except once (last season, when they reached the National Semifinals.) However, they lost their last game 2-1 to rival SVSU, which means they are certainly beatable. They have been hurt by injuries this season, but with it being a home match you can expect them to have nearly all their players available.
So who is favored for this game? History says GVSU by far. If you go by point differential then it’s still Grand Valley, who has a 3.25 point differential per game (as opposed to MSU’s 3.125.) Grand Valley is phenomenal at home (two home losses in the history of their club, both to CMU) and MSU has never had any success in Allendale (even at Nationals 2009.) So essentially, Grand Valley is the favorite for the match. That being said, don’t count out MSU just yet. Michigan State seems to be a different team so far this season, and they have proven to be able to close out points, which is what did them in at the 2012 Michigan Dodgeball Cup against GVSU. Both teams play the same tempo, but Grand Valley prefers to use their talent and teamwork to pick off lone opponent players, whereas MSU is going to try and force mistakes and get kills in transition. This will likely be one of the biggest tests of the Fall for both teams, which will be crucial as both teams lost in their hardest games of the year so far (MSU to Kentucky, GVSU at SVSU.) In the RPI formula (using win percentage and strength of schedule to determine how good a team is) MSU is #1 and GVSU is #4, so Michigan State has an advantage there. No matter who wins, this should be a good game, and a good barometer for both teams as they prepare for the Chicago Dodgeball Open and the Michigan Dodgeball Cup.
There will also be a Junior Varsity match played following the Varsity match, giving valuable experience to the future stars of the NCDA.