2016 D-I College Championships - Men's Division Preview

Posted: May 26, 2016 05:49 PM


2016DICollegeLogo 200x200  

The seeds have been set, and 20 teams will play for a chance to take home the Division I College Championship in Raleigh, N.C. May 27-30.

Every team has a chance to make waves this weekend in Raleigh.

Related Links:


Pool A

2015CollegeLogos Massachusetts M   2015CollegeLogos Georgia M   2015CollegeLogos TexasAM M   College13 Washington Sundodgers O 500x500   2016CollegeLogos CalPolySLO M
  Texas A&M
  Cal Poly-SLO


Massachusetts storms into Raleigh as the unanimous title favorite after an impressive 18-2 season, capped by an undefeated postseason run. Led by the outstanding Jeff Babbitt, ZooDisc is gritty on defense and spicy on offense. Babbitt is a walking highlight reel, ambushing errant throws to make game-changing defensive plays. On offense, young talent like Tannor Johnson and Brett Gramann provide deadly downfield options for veteran handler Ben Sadok. Overcoming the trademark Massachusetts zone will be key to stopping ZooDisc, but the New England squad won’t make it easy.
Standing in the way of Massachusetts are Georgia and Texas A&M. The Jojah boys suffered a major blow earlier in May when standout deep threat Parker Bray suffered a season-ending PCL tear. Georgia won’t go down without a fight, however, as the always-energetic Sam Little will push Jojah’s intensity with Nathan Haskell anchoring the offensive line. Texas A&M will also look to make a case for upsetting the beast. Their up-and-down season may cause concern for title ambitions further down the stretch, but with the renowned Dalton Smith at the helm, anything is possible.
Rounding out Pool A are Washington, led by the dazzling Khalif El-Salaam and talented Steven Benaloh, and Cal Poly-SLO, whose athleticism and grit stunned Stanford at Southwest Regionals to steal the region’s lone bid to the National Championships. Slocore faces an uphill battle in Pool A, however, as the Washington Sundodgers have flattened Cal Poly-SLO three times this season. The Sundodgers have hopes of their own too, and will need to use more than just El-Salaam’s sensational playmaking ability to avoid early elimination.

Pool B

2015CollegeLogos Oregon M   2015CollegeLogos NorthCarolina M   2015CollegeLogos Colorado M   2014CollegeLogos FloridaState M    2016CollegeLogos CaseWestern M
  North Carolina
  Florida State
  Case Western


Oregon’s ridiculous 42-win season, marred by only a single two-digit loss to Harvard in March, locks Ego in as the second overall seed and favorite for clearing Pool B. After falling 15-6 in last year’s National Championship final to a loaded North Carolina squad, Ego will look to not only reach the title game again, but stroll out of Raleigh with a trophy in their bags. The Oregon-North Carolina rematch will be one of the hottest games of the weekend, with Connor Matthews and Chris Strub spearheading the elite Oregon lineup.
Defending champions North Carolina stand as one of the stronger two-seeds despite significant roster turnover from 2015. Darkside’s proximity to Raleigh will ensure homefield advantage and draw the vital crowd support needed to have a chance at upsetting Oregon. Premier offensive cutter Aaron Warshauer will pressure Oregon’s defensive line, and JD Hastings, Dain Nielsen and a host of young talent are key ingredients in a speedy North Carolina squad. It will be fun to see what Coach Mike DeNardis cooks up for this year’s championships, as his crafty and creative zone defenses were critical in North Carolina’s 2015 title run.
Colorado and Florida State pack a punch in Pool B, and the fight to avoid elimination will be electrifying. Injuries had stunted Mamabird’s true ceiling at many regular season tournaments, but a fresh Pawel Janas and Mark Rauls should keep Colorado’s push to the top interesting. Florida State’s rollercoaster of a season raised concerns heading into the postseason, but strong wins over Florida and Auburn sent them to
the ‘ship. Peter Van Brussel and Connor Holcombe will need to command physicality and focus in order for the DUF boys to move up. Last but certainly not least, Case Western Reserve rounds out Pool B after a stunning first-place finish at Ohio Valley Regionals. Though critics might point to Case Western not playing Pittsburgh at regionals as a sign of skepticism, Case Western held their own against top teams, and the defensive efforts of Jake Rovner will lead the Fighting Gobies on their quest to spoil some teams this weekend. 

Pool C

2015CollegeLogos UNCW M   2015CollegeLogos Wisconsin M   2014CollegeLogos Harvard M   2012CollegeLogo Michigan O   2016CollegeLogos Connecticut M 
North Carolina-


One of two teams to overcome Massachusetts this season, North Carolina-Wilmington sits atop Pool C with one of their best chances to clinch the title. A respectable 17-5 regular-season finish and an undefeated postseason grants Wilmington the opportunity for redemption after a disappointing pre-quarterfinal exit at last year’s championships. Team U.S.A U-23 stars Xavier Maxstadt and Jack Williams, along with the
talented Matt Mason, headline a scary offensive unit known for its athleticism and power. Depth may be a question mark for the Seamen, whose small roster will need to avoid injury if they want to reach the top. Still, outstanding coaching efforts from Greg Vassar and Brian Casey will ensure that even a minimal roster will keep every game competitive to the end.
Not to be outdone by the Seamen, Wisconsin and Harvard pad the résumé of an impressive Pool C. The renowned Hodags are a perennial Nationals favorite and key season wins promote them as perhaps the strongest two-seed in the tournament. Craig Cox and Avery Johnson will look to pressure North Carolina-Wilmington for the pool victory, but the team’s mental fortitude will be just as important following a pair
of unexpected losses to Carleton College at North Central Regionals. Harvard Red Line’s win over Oregon contributed to Ego’s only blemish on the season and will look to continue upsetting top competition at Nationals. The fantastic John Stubbs and Mark Vandenberg will be critical for Red Line’s title ambitions.
Michigan and Connecticut round out Pool C, but cannot be counted out as potential sleeper picks. After a stunning regionals exit last year, MagnUM will strive for redemption at the big dance. A well-rounded team, Michigan’s efficiency and fuel from Sam Greenwood will ensure MagnUM remains in the conversation. Connecticut enters Raleigh as an underrated five-seed, ready to pounce if teams sleep through their matches with Grind. The talents of John Wodatch and prowess of Coach Bryan Jones spearhead the Connecticut roster and will vie for any chance to break seed. 

Pool D

 2015CollegeLogos Minnesota M   2015CollegeLogos Pittsburgh M   2014CollegeLogos CarletonCollege M   2015CollegeLogos Auburn M   2016CollegeLogos Utah M
  Carleton College


The ‘Pool of Death’ earns new meaning as Minnesota and Pittsburgh lock into what could be one of the most grueling four-seed v. five-seed match ups in recent Nationals history. Minnesota’s first match of the season came against Pittsburgh as Grey Duck claimed a two-point victory in early February. Grey Duck have grown since then, led by the stunning efforts of Ben Jagt and Ryan Osgar, and have clinched multiple impressive wins against top teams like North Carolina-Wilmington and Texas A&M. A five-point loss to Wisconsin at North Central Regionals is of slight concern, but as long as Grey Duck’s mental toughness doesn’t quack, erm, crack, Minnesota should enjoy much success at this year’s College Championships.

Determined to disappoint Minnesota, however, is Pittsburgh. One of the hottest teams of recent years, En Sabah Nur will strive for three national titles in five years this weekend. Max Thorne and Pat Earles are a force of nature on offense, and Trent Dillon’s impeccable defensive abilities make him a nightmare for any offense. Pittsburgh will also be facing a slight sense of urgency, as impending roster turnover might potentially send En Sabah Nur into the dreaded rebuilding zone next year. Backed by respected coach Nick Kaczmarek, Pittsburgh will certainly be one of the most fun teams to watch this weekend.

Carleton College and Auburn add flavor to a pool already brimming with intensity and passion. Carleton’s Sol Yanuck, Justin Lim and Jesse Bolton fill out one of the more impressive squads in the tournament. Carleton is deep and experienced on the national stage, and no one who is paying attention can question their ability to succeed late in the season, no matter what their regular season looked like. Meanwhile, Auburn presents one of the most inconsistent seasons, with hallmark wins over North Carolina and North Carolina-Wilmington, but also surprising losses to lower teams. Still, when in form, Aetos can electrify any match up, and Blake Galloway and Ryan Landry will look to do just that. Utah rounds out Pool D and the College Championships field. The mysterious Zion Curtain surprised British Columbia at Northwest Regionals and will be interesting to watch perform on the national stage.

Upset Alert

Pool A features multiple #UpsetCity candidates in Texas A&M, Washington and Cal Poly-SLO. Though it would be a tough sell to suggest Massachusetts finishes anywhere but first in Pool A, second and third place are wide open, and a case can be made for any combination of finishes. In a tournament where only the top three finishers avoid elimination, every game will be critical.

Dark Horse

2015CollegeLogos Auburn M    

Auburn’s rollercoaster of a season embodies true Dark Horse spirit. Signature wins against top competition have proved Aetos can hang with the best, but they will need intense focus and mental determination to ensure they remain in the running.




Games to Watch

2015CollegeLogos TexasAM M College13 Washington Sundodgers O 500x500  

Texas A&M v. Washington – Friday, 10:30 a.m.

In a pool that will likely be dominated by Massachusetts, this match up could determine who advanced to the championship bracket and who ends up in the placement brackets. It’s also the first game of the weekend for both teams, so coming out of the gate strong will be extra important. 

2015CollegeLogos Oregon M 2015CollegeLogos NorthCarolina M  

Oregon v. North Carolina – Friday, 12:30 p.m.

There is no better way to start your afternoon than with a rematch of last year’s championship final. The home field advantage should give Darkside a boost against one of the biggest title contenders at this year’s College Championships, and both teams will have had a bye prior to the game ensuring fresh legs and loads of deep shot opportunities.

2015CollegeLogos UNCW M 2015CollegeLogos Wisconsin M

North Carolina-Wilmington v. Wisconsin - Friday, 2:30 p.m.

Two of the strongest teams face off Friday afternoon in a match sure to electric. North Carolina-Wilmington’s tantalizing offense versus Wisconsin’s athletic defense will be one of the hottest match ups of the weekend and will set the bar for the intensity-level of the weekend.

2015CollegeLogos Minnesota M2015CollegeLogos Pittsburgh M2014CollegeLogos CarletonCollege M   

Pool D: Minnesota v. Pittsburgh v. Carleton College

The pool of death is a doosy this year. These three teams should provide some of the best pool play match ups of the year: 

Minnesota v. Pittsburgh – Friday, 4:30 p.m.
Pittsburgh v. Carleton College – Saturday, 12:30 p.m.
Minnesota v. Carleton College – Saturday, 8:30 a.m.


Have any questions or comments? We welcome community feedback and discussion made in a respectful manner. Please refrain from profanity or personal attacks, as such public comments negatively reflect on our sport and community.