Welcome to another post of questioning polls as well as the status quo! While I can admit polls aren’t going anywhere, I can also acknowledge that they are massively flawed, and really only good for one thing: sports commentators blowing hot air about how to rank teams based on games that have yet to be played! I believe polls need to be more results-oriented, and less about what people think.
Photo Credit: Craig Chase
I’d rather rank teams on what they have actually accomplished on the field, so let’s take a look at the Warrior D1 Media Poll (as well as Quint K’s excellent analysis of the Top 20) and see if we can make any sense of these selections. It’s a tough job… but someone’s got to do it.
Editor’s Note: Where multiple teams are grouped close together, in either the poll or in my mind, they are grouped together without paragraph breaks.
1) Loyola – Everyone agrees that Loyola is #1… except for Quint. He has Duke at #1. Quint can think that Duke is a better team, but according to the actual results this year, his Duke pick is straight up heresy! Loyola has one less loss than Duke, and beat them head to head 14-7. Loyola isn’t winning all their games big, but a win is a win, isn’t it? Only if you play in the ACC, I guess!
2) Duke – I can admit that these two teams are really close, and that Duke might actually be better right now, but the results don’t back it up.
3) Denver – I like Denver at 2 0r 3, but Quint has them at #5, and I can’t disagree with that either. There is a pack of teams at the 3-10 ranking spots, and sifting through them is tough. Denver hasn’t played a ranked team since March 8th, and doesn’t for the rest of the regular season. Their loss to Penn is still a concern, but Penn is looking like a Top 10 potential team as well, so I think of Denver as a clear cut #3 at the very least.
4) Syracuse – Everyone is hopping back on the Cuse train, and Quint even puts them at #3. Other than their win against Cornell, the Ws have all been tight ones, including a 10-8 win over Binghamton. Cuse is definitely improving, but Top 5 might be a little generous based on their results.
5) Johns Hopkins – Is Hop getting better each week? Is my dark horse prediction of them as 2014 champs looking solid? Yes and yes. Would I rank them in the Top 5? Maybe. I like UNC over Hop, so I might drop Hop to six or seven, but like I said, the pack is thick here.
6) UNC – To me, UNC has had a slightly better season than Hop, and the head to head win helps the Tar Heels’ case. Move ‘em up to #5 and put Hop at #6. Quint has ND at #6.
7) Maryland – I’m actually not surprised by Maryland’s ranking. 2 Top 10 losses in their last 3 Top 10 games aren’t good, and it does make me worry some of that early season magic is gone, but their resume is still strong enough to be a solid Top 10 team. Quint has the Terps at #9, focusing more on recent games.
8) Notre Dame – ND is 6-4, but if you’re willing to throw away their loss to Penn State early on, they could be grouped with the Top 7 teams easily. In fact, they could even be as high as #5. They’ve lost tight games to #2, 3, and 4 teams. Why not put them at 5? Quint has them higher. I like that, and it’s based solely on results.
9) Penn – The Quakers are creeping on up in the polls, and evidently a one goal win over Harvard (8-7) helped propel them forward. It also knocked Harvard out of the Top 20 Media Poll, which is ridiculous. With Penn at #9, it gets even easier to rank Denver in the Top 2 or 3. Quint has Penn at #10, behind every ACC team. Why? Because the ACC is inherently better than any other conference ever. Didn’t you know that?
10) Virginia – At least the Media Poll will admit that Penn might be better than one ACC team. That’s nice to see. You can keep UVA high because all three of their last losses came to ACC teams. But then you have to believe the ACC is that much better than the rest of college lacrosse. I’d drop Virginia a bit more. Maybe to #12.
11) Hofstra – Why not put Hofstra above UVA? The Pride just knocked off Cornell and are sitting pretty at 9-3. Their SOS isn’t as strong as UVA’s, but do we keep ranking teams because of a high SOS? And if that’s the case, why isn’t Albany sitting here at #11, or at least somewhere in the Top 20? At some point we have to stop rewarding teams for losing games, even if they are to great teams. Don’t buy Albany? How about Cornell? Just like UVA, they’ve lost 3 in a row. Before that they were perfect. But now they’re 12th. Yale at 13? Why not UVA there? The point is, UVA is still as high as they are because they are in the ACC, and for no other reason. It’s like Ranking Bates 20th in D3 because they are in the NESCAC. Does not compute.
12) Cornell – Hofstra beat Cornell. Hofstra is now one spot higher than Cornell. Is that the thought process here?
13) Yale – Do not beat Brown in OT. Evidently that will hurt your chances to a severe degree. Yale has had one easy game this year (Dartmouth) and they are 7-3. I like this team more than a #13 ranking. Overall, I think the Ivy is underrated this year, and very dangerous. If the ACC is a cannibal conference, why isn’t the Ivy too? Cornell, Yale, Penn, Harvard, Princeton, and even Brown all look tough. Is perception trumping reality here? The top 5 Ivy teams are 22-10 out of conference, so the ACC does look better in that regard, AND the ACC is 5-1 against the Ivy Top 5 head to head. But 6 was the biggest margin of victory, and 4 of the six games were decided by 3 goals or less. Are all 6 ACC teams really better than all the Ivies?
14) Princeton – I guess this answers my above question.
15) Bryant – A weaker SOS keeps Bryant down, but at this point, there is no way they should be ranked above St. Joseph’s. SJU lost their first game, lost to Top 10 Penn, and lost to Drexel. Yes, Bryant beat Drexel, but both of those games are older. SJU is 9-3 and just topped Bryant. St. Joseph’s isn’t even in the Media Poll, which is ridiculous at best. Quint knows what’s up and puts St. Joseph at #19 and Bryant is nowhere to be found.
16) Army – Army is looking solid right now, but I’m not sure that they have done a lot more than Rutgers or Umass, whom they are ranked above. Villanova and OSO are both 5-6, but I like their slates better than Army’s currently. If they can knock off Loyola in the Patriot League, you can trash my above statement, but RIGHT NOW, I don’t see it. I would put Albany here before Army.
17) Fairfield – If you like Air Force, Fairfield is higher. If you don’t like Air Force, 17 is perfect. I happen to like Air Force. So does Quint.
18) Drexel – Drexel is a GREAT choice for #18. They are a total conundrum, talented, and dangerous, plus they’re on a 4 game tear. Throw out that loss to Bryant and they could be higher.
19) Lehigh – Lehigh is a borderline team for me. Some close games, but no stand out wins. Can’t see how they’d beat out St. Joe’s or Albany.
20) UMass – Sure, Umass, why not? I can handle this pick.
Almost Made It: Air Force, Harvard, Albany, St. Joe’s, Ohio State, Colgate, High Point
What I can’t handle is Harvard, Albany and St. Joe’s being out of the Top 20 altogether. Why not drop Lehigh, Bryant, and Army? Is one close loss by Army to Loyola keeping them all in? I really don’t get it. Based off of results on the field, my Top 20 would look like this:
5) Notre Dame
17) Penn State
19) St. Joseph’s