For the Northern Athletic Collegiate Conference (NACC), I’m going to bring in our California friends and give some predictions. I just want to put it out there and be upfront. I’m a NACC kind of guy. By far the best conference in the Midwest and I’d argue the second-best conference in the country behind the UVC. Especially when your conference produces 2 of the top 4 teams in the NCAA Finals. That’s elite. I don’t care what anyone else has to say. Anyways, here we go.
Dominican– The crème de la crème of the NACC, the Stars are lead by FrogJump pre-season All-Americans “Old Man” Jack McGuire and The Godfather himself, George Kougan. Can you say MIDWEST BOUNCE! That’s all you need to know about this team. I’m so hyped on this squad. I’m not sure there needs to be any discussion on how much the NACC is Dominican’s to lose. They have it tied up in a big red bow.
In all seriousness, Dominican is good. They’re really good. Its not going to be a flashy season for the Stars, just a consistent push towards dominance. Some non-con matches of note: early season match ups against Juniata, Stevenson, Carthage, and North Central with late season matches against Fontbonne and UCSC. Definitely mark your calendars for the Carthage and UCSC matches.
Benedictine– The runners-up in the 2021 National Championship, I do not believe they can repeat the magic from last year. Graduated Setter Mike Legros is going to be missed this year. Not only as reliable hands, but as a leader on the court. Looking at the roster right now, I just don’t see it. I can’t wait to see what they do this year though, as I still think it’s going to be BenU and DU at the top of the NACC this year.
Aurora– This is the team to watch out for in the NACC. They have the potential to cause some waves both in the conference and on the national level. It is going to be the transition from potential to actuality which will be the challenge for the Spartans. They are young, very young… but will be returning one 5th year in Thomas Kovanic. I see this being the year he solidifies himself as a legitimate star on the DIII scene. Combine this with a slough of talent being brought in from the West, Dan Ames has a squad on his hands.
Milwaukee School of Engineering– MSOE will always be around, making their presence known in the NACC, despite perennially being the 4th best team in the conference. So, are they going to be able to keep doing that or make an outright run at the NACC. My answer, they’re going to be replaced as the 4th in the picture by the team below this. MSOE is such a niche school that drawing in talent is tough to get them over the hump. I love the school. Hate the soulless concrete box they play in. But, by golly do they know how to win in it. Use that to their advantage. S’go Raiders.
Concordia University Wisconsin– CU-Dub is going to be my sleeper team in the NACC this year. After a crazy upset against MSOE in last year’s NACC Championship Tournament, CUW left a lot of people scratching their beards. This team will be good. They’ll be a team who beats the teams they are supposed to and pull off an upset or two. They’re well coached and the talent pool in Wisconsin is getting deeper and deeper. Be on the look out for CUW to be receiving votes this year. They’ll cause a ruckus.
Concordia University Chicago– I wanted to highlight the new leadership of CUC. They have a great new coach coming in, Ron Katarzynski. A very accomplished coach in his own right. With CUC, I’ll be interested in how they are in 3 years, when Ron has his first recruiting class come of age and are able to compete at the high level he demands. Coach Staley left a good squad. Luke Vozenilek is going to be a menace to the NACC. That guy can ball.
Lakeland, Edgewood, Illinois Tech, Marian, Rockford, St. Norbert, Wisconsin Lutheran– I want so much out of these teams. They’ll pull an upset every now and then but, I want them to thrive. They all have to opportunity to be great athletically but, will be limited by the success of the above teams. These are all programs which are well coached and have good campuses. However, they are still building. This is the nature of the NACC. You have a core of programs which have been around for almost a decade (or more) versus some schools who just started.
California Lutheran– I have a huge question mark with Cal Lu for this year. They have a lot of returners. But, what are they returning from? A 4 game season? So, this could go 1 of 2 ways. First, they could be itching to get out and play a full season. They have the great potential to go on a tear. Which they kind of have in the past. They historically beat the teams they should have beat. But, finding that next level has been… tough. This leads to our second possibility which is a total implosion. Their only path to get into the tournament is through an at large. In their position, they cannot afford any major losses. The bias is always going to lean towards UCSC. That is the nature of the history of West Coast teams. I really really really want to see Cal Lu forge their own path. They have the pieces. Can they put it together.
University of California Santa Cruz– The Banana Slugs are going to Banana Slug this year. They’re always in the hunt for an at large bid. They have a good schedule this year for them to rack up wins. Obviously, they will be doing a Midwest swing as well as a brief East Coast stint. When they are in the Midwest up in Kenosha (HOME OF THE NCAA DIII MEN’S VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT), they’ll be taking on the reigning national champions of Carthage. I think this will be a great primer for when they get the at large bid and will go back to Kenosha for the tournament. Matches of Midwest note are Carthage, CUW x2, Aurora (who beat them last year), and Dominican. Again, the Banana Slugs are going to make a great run at the at large. They’re my favorite to compete for that bid.
Way to Early Rankings and Predictions
- Concordia University- Wisconsin
- Milwaukee School of Engineering
- Concordia University- Chicago
- Illinois Institute of Technology
- Wisconsin Lutheran
- St. Norbert