Last year I looked through the polls for about 8 weeks of the season asking if the polls were serious with their picks. It turns out the polls were serious, even if they seemed a little bit off. Good to know! Last year’s final “Is this poll serious post“ had Duke higher than any of the polls, but also had Syracuse lower.
Now that almost every D1 team has played at least seven or eight games we can start to question the polls once again. Forget about what’s on paper… how are these teams TRULY fairing, and where should they be ranked? It’s time to break down the USILA Top 20 Poll!
Photo Credit: Craig Chase
1 – Loyola 9-1
2 – Cornell 9-0 – Loyola is a great pick for #1. Aside from their opening OT loss to UVA, they’ve been perfect. At the same time, Cornell is undefeated. Both teams have 4 wins over Top 20 teams, and Loyola might even be a better team, but they have lost a game. Cornell has not. Big Red should be #1. Loyola can be #2.
3 – Duke 9-2
4 – Maryland 8-1 – Duke has two losses, and one is to Maryland. Maryland has one loss to highly ranked UNC. UNC has two losses, and one is to Duke. How is Duke above Maryland? If you have a three way tie, how is the team with no other losses in 2nd place? Nitpicky, but makes no sense to me.
5 – North Carolina 8-2 – The ACC is killing me, and everyone else who wants to have an accurate poll. Can’t we just have Duke, Maryland, and Notre Dame all tied for third, and then Cuse, UVA, and Maryland tied for 7th? Why even split these teams up? Just add Denver in to the mix and rank Duke, Maryland, UNC, Denver, Cuse, Notre Dame, and Virginia al tied for third. The rest of the rankings can just start at #10. This is the problem with a parity-filled super conference… it makes any real rankings nearly impossible. Those teams are all good. That’s about all you can say.
6 – Denver 8-2
7 – Syracuse 5-3
8 – Notre Dame 4-3 – I’m actually not sure why ND is this high still. Sure, big wins over UNC and UVA are great, but a loss to PSU (who fell out of the Top 20) doesn’t look all that great. ND’s next game against Duke will validate (or dismiss) this critique. That’s a big game.
9 – Virginia 8-3
10 – Johns Hopkins 5-3 – This is a selection that truly confuses me. I picked Hop as my dark horse to win it all this year, and I am truly a believer that this team is rock solid, but they have simply done NOTHING to be a Top 10 team right now. Three straight losses to Top 20 teams and a win over 4-4 Princeton gets you in Top 10? I really don’t think so!
11 – Bryant University 8-2 – I love Bryant this high even with their two early Top 20 losses, but I also struggle to see how they can be 3 spots higher than Yale, who is extremely underrated at 5-3 (and with a win over Bryant). Yale and Hopkins should probably be flip-flopped for one another based on actual results.
12 – Massachusetts 7-2 – A young team, capable of winning big games or getting blown out. My feeling is that they had a bad match up with Albany. I like Umass this high.
13 – Pennsylvania 4-3
14 – Yale 4-3 – Probably the most underrated team right now.
15 – Fairfield 7-2 – Another CT Coastal team getting less love than they should.
16 – Colgate 7-3
16 – Hofstra 6-3
18 – Albany 4-4 – A big win over UMass is literally the only thing Albany has to hang their hat on right now. Inconsistent on the field, but everything will change if they beat Hopkins on Friday night and win out. If they lose, I could see them dropping from the Top 20, and deservedly so. The Danes are the biggest letdown team of 2014 so far, and I’m a little surprised they are still in the Top 20 this week.
19 – Princeton 4-4 – Like Albany, I’m not so sure they belong in the Top 20 right now based on their performances so far. St. John’s, Brown, Lehigh, and Drexel could all be better choices. Heck, I might take Towson or Mercer over the Tigers right now. We need to reward parity and winners, and not just stick with favorites.
20 – Army 6-3 – Army is a great addition to any Top 20 poll. 6 wins, three one goals losses (Loyola, Rutgers, and UMass), and a dominating defense. The Black Knights should really be much higher in this poll, maybe even Top 15. They are doing work!
Others Receiving Votes: Lehigh, Mercer, Villanova, St. John’s, Brown, Drexel, Towson
Love that list of teams. Solid next bunch, and a number of them could see time in next week’s Top 20. We’ll be back to analyze that as well!
What do YOU think about this week’s Top 20 Poll? What do you think about my reactions? Who is too HIGH? Who is too LOW?