For the next 4 days I’ll be releasing my Preseason NCAA Division 1 Men’s Lacrosse Rankings in four five-team installments. I start at #20 and work my way down to the coveted #1 spot. Today I cover the D1 teams from #20 to #16. Is it weird that I found it easier to decide who #1 was over who was #18? Probably not… the talent pool this year is deep!
I’ll be honest here, seeing as they went 6-8 last year, Hofstra might be a bit of stretch to include in my Top 20. Not a good start, I know. However, the Pride weren’t bad last year, and I think 2013 could be a real turnaround year for the program. This program went 13-3 in 2011, and towards the end of last year, they had some great games with some of the top teams. I like Hofstra to rebound, get back to a winning season and a Top 20 berth.
Fairfield has been improving, sometimes slowly, since 2008 when they went 4-9. Andy Copelan has good things happening, and I see no reason for the Stags to drop off in any big way. In fact, at #19 they may even be ranked a little low. Typically, Fairfield doesn’t play a great schedule and this does give me some pause. For example, last year they went 1-3 against Top 20 teams and also lost to OSU 8-3 (then beat them the next week). The Stags are good, but still have some proving to do.
#18 Ohio State
OSU is a lot like Fairfield in that they have been an improving program, but the reason I like the Buckeyes just a bit more is their scheduling. OSU plays top teams and competes. Their 2-6 record against Top 20 teams is nothing to brag about, but the trial by fire can help a team prepare for a big run, so I like OSU to win one or two more games this year and consistently hang in the rear of the Top 20.
Bucknell is that team I always expect to drop off, but then they never do it. The Bison are still super solid and looking to be the little school darling again this year. They will play a pretty competitive schedule and making it out of the Patriot is going to be tough. If they do make it, Bucknell will be tested and tough, and this team will continue to surprise people.
#16 Penn State
Penn State is a solid pick for #16, but something tells me that by the end of the season, the Nittany Lions could be considerably higher in the poll. Jeff Tambroni has done amazing things pretty quickly, and if there is a “new” program that could start competing for titles soon, it has to be Penn State. They’re not a new team, but if they were competing for a title every year, that would be a new phenomenon. I like PSU in 2013 and if they can generate some more transition goals and remain stingy on defense, they could win a lot of 11-7 type games.