Ranking D1 lacrosse teams is tough. Last week we had an easy criticism to make and could say Cornell should be #1, by virtue of them being undefeated. Then they lost to Harvard. Now it’s fair to give that coveted (but somewhat meaningless) #1 spot to Loyola free and clear. After that, the rankings get a little more confusing… let’s see if they’re serious or not!
Last week I primarily talked about the USILA Coaches Poll. This week I’m looking at the Warrior Men’s D1 Media Poll. (Edit’s Note: Where multiple teams are grouped close together (in the poll or in my mind), they are grouped together without paragraph breaks.)
1) Loyola – an early 1-goal loss to UVA doesn’t leave me too concerned. The Hounds are finding ways to win close games when they need to and have put together 10 straight wins. No one else has as strong of a streak going, and Loyola is a clear cut #1 right now. Quint has Loyola at #4, and thinks they peaked when they beat Duke, whom he has ranked #2. It’s an interesting perspective, but to me, winning games when you play poorly actually speaks to strength, and not weakness. I guess we’ll see when the tourney rolls around (or perhaps sooner!).
2) Duke – Duke is an interesting choice for #2. They have two losses, and have dropped games to the #1 Loyola Hounds (14-7) and Maryland. Maryland has a loss to UNC. UNC has two losses, to Duke and Notre Dame. Are we really going to reward Duke’s loss to Loyola by 7 goals and their direct head to head loss to Maryland with a #2 ranking? I get that Maryland lost to UNC, but they are still #4 in the poll. I can’t see how a one loss team (with a loss to #4) is behind a team they beat with two losses. It’s a tricky triangle, especially when you bring intangibles into the equation, but according to wins and losses, the Terps should be #2.
3) Maryland – I would have Duke here, and Denver at #4.
4) UNC – Need I say more than the above? These are all top 5 teams right now to be sure.
5) Denver – Denver is the team no one wants to take a risk on. They aren’t cracking the ACC top 3 like Loyola, but they are sitting pretty at #5. I would put UNC here at #5. They did lose to Penn, but I’ll explain that phenomenon a little later.
6) Cornell – I really like that Cornell didn’t drop too far because of their loss to Harvard at home this weekend. 9-1 with 4 top 20 games is usually Top 5 material! 3 of Cornell’s last four games are against Top 20 teams, so their place in the rankings could change again quickly. Quint has Cornell at #7.
7) Syracuse – Quint had Cuse at #6, and I have to say everyone here is bonkers. Cuse is 3-2 against Top 10 teams, and their two wins are over #9 and #10. Putting them over Virginia makes no sense, especially as UVA’s last two losses were to top 4 teams (Cuse also lost those games). UVA at #7 makes more sense.
8) Johns Hopkins – UVA should also be ranked over Hop. Hopkins has zero Top 10 wins (UVA has 3) and lost to UVA. Not. Even. A. Question. Quint has Hop at #10. Still too high? Still too high. And this is a team I picked as my dark horse to win it all this year.
9) Notre Dame – Notre Dame has two big wins, and a suspect loss, coupled with a 4-4 record. Even with their disciplined big win over UVA, I would drop ND down at least another spot for Virginia. UVA’s loss to ND is better than Notre Dame’s loss to Penn State, if that makes sense. I also like UVA’s last two game performances a bit more than ND’s, even though both teams suffered losses.
10) Virginia – Move the Cavs up! I think I made a pretty compelling case.
11) Penn – The Quakers are dangerous, and almost always primed to upset someone big. That being said, they are kind of a crap shoot team, where you never know what you’ll get. A lot of tight games makes me think 11 may be a little high for Penn.
12) Fairfield – Speaking of tight games, the Stags have seen plenty of them lately, but they’ve been winning (7 in a row with two Top 20 wins). I think you need to reward consistency here a little bit and bump Fairfield up a spot, maybe even two or three.
13) Yale – Yale is a lot like Penn, and I think their 12-11 OT loss to the Quakers shows that. Like Penn, they can beat anyone, but so far they haven’t done so consistently. Hovering outside the Top 12 makes sense for both of these Ivy challengers.
14) Hofstra – Hofstra hasn’t really impressed me that much this year. They have Top 15 talent but seem to play to the level of their opponents, and that gets dangerous when you play Top 15 teams. Quint has them at #13. If Hostra gets blown out by Cornell on April 12th, we will know they aren’t for real this year. If they win that game? I guess I’ll jump on the bandwagon too.
15) Bryant – You’d think that I would like Bryant like I do Fairfield, but the Bulldogs have no Top 20 wins, and lost their last game to St. Joseph’s 9-7. Maybe throw St. Joe’s in here? (They are 8-3), but Bryant hasn’t done enough to be Top 15 material. There are four teams I would rank higher than Bryant.
16) UMass – And UMass is one of them! The Minutemen have been up and down, UMass is young, and capable of going on a good end of season run, but that’s just conjecture. At the end of the day, they’ve seen some success, AND been tested. It’s what I look for in a Top 15-20 team.
17) Princeton – Princeton probably should be right behind UMass, but they meet many of the same criteria as UMass. I’d take both of these teams over Bryant or Hofstra pretty quickly.
18) Army – Army has been tested as well, but I don’t think they have seen as much success in big games. A close call here or there and they could be Top 15, but I can really only go on what has happened on the field. I would probably have Albany here instead.
19) Towson – Again, no Albany? That Canisius loss was bad, but the rest of their results have been solid enough to make the Top 20. I’m not saying Towson shouldn’t be considered a good team, but the only thing they’ve done to warrant a ranking is beat UMass. Harvard lost to UMass early, but didn’t they just beat Cornell? What gives here?
20) Lehigh – The Mountain Hawks are a perfect #20 team. Lots of wins, but also losses to Top 20 teams. This spot could be taken by a number of different schools, and Bryant is one of them. Can you figure out why there is a 5 spot discrepancy? I can’t!
ALMOST: Harvard, Albany, Drexel, St. Joe’s, Air Force – This is like a list of who should be in, but isn’t!
What do you think of my take on someone else’s take on the Top 20? Am I off my rocker? It’s possible! The Top 20 polls are really just a lot of fun, and have very little bearing on how things play out come tourney time. They are fodder for discussion, so tell me where I’m wrong. Don’t worry, I won’t bite.