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Big Dogs Fall – Is This Lacrosse Poll Serious?

When the big dogs fall, it creates poll chaos! The D1 Men’s Lacrosse season was looking somewhat predictable, but then last weekend’s games took place, and pretty much everything we thought we knew proved to be suspect at the very least. There is still ONE undefeated team at this point and after we saw all the other big dogs fall, our #1 pick is clear cut. Beyond that, the Media Poll is all up in the air!

See below for my Top 20 Media Poll votes, along with my rationale for the pick, and where the team ended up in the official media poll (in parentheses!).

Big Dogs Fall Top 20 Votes

1) Syracuse (Syracuse) – Cuse is the only undefeated team left in D1 men’s lacrosse. They have some huge wins and have been perfect so far this year. They destroyed Duke in the Dome on Sunday, and there is no place that any reasonable person can rank Cuse other than #1 right now. If there was a zero spot, I’d give it to the Orange as well, but #1 is a high as you can go, so that is where Cuse sits. Please don’t doubt the Orange midfield. Might just be the best group in the country from top to bottom.

2) Notre Dame (Notre Dame) – The Irish have a great record, some strong showings so far, and all the components of a top 5 team. They could be as high as #2 (as I have them) or as low as #5. While they blanked OSU this past weekend, a lot of the credit there goes to OSU for running a non-existent offense. If ND ever plays truly “up-tempo” lacrosse, they could be a monster of a program. They should have run OSU into the ground on Saturday!

3) Maryland (Maryland) – Dominant wins over Princeton and Villanova helped move Maryland up as much as a big win over UNC! The Terps have put on a show the last couple of weeks, and are looking like a surprise contender all of a sudden. We knew Maryland was good, but they are doing better than expected now! The hardshells have my vote, not that it matters.

4) UNC (UNC) – UNC’s sole loss is to Maryland, whom I have placed at #3. Keeping UNC in the Top 5 seems like a no-brainer to me right now. Some may move the Heels lower, but I think that would be a mistake. The polls mean nothing right now, but UNC is a good team. No reason for them to drop too far. Also, they could be higher. It’s a sweet, confusing science.

5) Brown (Denver) – I’m keeping Brown high, but I do have my concerns. Losing to Bucknell isn’t something a true Top 5 team should do, but with an offensive player like Molloy on the roster, I’ll excuse one loss like that. But Brown also shouldn’t give up 9 goals to Manhattan. The Bears play a tough Marist team in a Tuesday trap game, and then play Princeton on Sunday in what should be a top level match up in the nerdiest league in the nation. That’s a good thing. It took me four picks to disagree with the rest of the Media Poll. That might be a record!

6) Denver (Duke) –  Why do I still have Denver so high? Honestly, I might be thinking they are more deserving than they really are right now. Two non-top 20 wins and past wins over Duke and Notre Dame keep them high. A loss to Georgetown or Villanova and they could drop out of the Top 10. Remember when EVERYONE was calling Denver the CLEAR #1? This is why we play the games! Am I falling prey to the hype? Probably. Denver needs a big win. It feels weird even thinking that.

7) Duke (Cornell) – I’m going to be honest here… I had much higher expectations for Duke, and this is probably still informing my placement of this team. The Blue Devils got BLOWN OUT by Syracuse on Sunday, but I do like that they tried to keep scoring, and notched a bunch of second half goals. With games against UNC, Notre Dame, and Virginia coming up soon, Duke will find its rightful place, wherever it is! I could look like a genius or a fool by placing Duke at #7. I may look like a fool anyway, but that’s my own fault.

8) Cornell (Virginia) – Cornell has had some tight games, and it took 4 OT periods for the Big Red to wrap up wins over Colgate and Penn, but Cornell did win, and I like a team that can consistently win close games. The 15-14 loss to Virginia hurts, but not that much as I have UVa one spot below Cornell. Basically, I’d take Cornell in a rematch right now. I think.

9) Virginia (Albany) – Just when you thought Virginia had lost too many good players to be a top 20 team they go and hit you with a tight loss to Notre Dame and a gutsy “must win game” (for both teams) over Johns Hopkins. UVa relies on midfield shooting, good goaltending, and team lacrosse. They can do all 3 still, so they are a top 10 team, at least for now. I’ll be honest, I gave up on Virgina, but the Wahoos didn’t give up on themselves. That should show you how much polls actually matter! (not much, but they sure are fun!)

10) Albany (Princeton) – The Danes started a little slow this year, had some close games, and weren’t wowing many, but over their last two games we’ve seen an offensive explosion, and the defense seems to be tightening up. They lack a big win, but 5-1 is good for now. Wins need to come Vs Harvard and UMass Lowell before Albany takes on Cuse. If Albany can continue to score lots of goals, that could be an instant classic. Of course Cuse could also just roll Albany like they did to Duke. I’m thinking that might not happen… but it could. Cuse is good! So good that an Albany post became about the Orange. But seriously… Syracuse is that talented. See? I did it again.

11) Army (Yale) – Army is now 6-3, but I still like this team. They keep games low-scoring, but can put up goals of their own. They have a diverse set of players who can play their roles well. They play hard. If they can beat Bucknell, Navy, Colgate, and BU, they will be 10-3 and likely in the top 10 when they play Notre Dame to end the regular season, and that would be an awesome Top 10 game! But due to consistency issues, I’m not counting on it. Also kind of shocked that a military program allowed these kind of “cellys” on the sideline:

12) Yale (Marquette) – Yale has gone from Top 10 darling to middling 10-20 team in only two weeks. How did that happen? Losses to Cornell and Princeton on consecutive weekends didn’t help. Yale is now 5-0 outside of the Ivy (with a huge Maryland win) and 0-2 in the Ivy. The Ivy is the most up and down conference in lacrosse this year, no doubt!

13) Georgetown (Brown) – Remember when I was poo-pooing Notre Dame’s close game with Georgetown early on? Whoops! Gtown is for real! The Hoyas lost two top 20 games early in the year, but just beat Marquette and Loyola after falling to Duke. A winning record, two top 20 wins, 3 top 20 losses and I’m close to sold. If the Hoyas beat Denver, they become a contender in considerably more peoples’ eyes.

14) Princeton (Georgetown) – I like the Tigers and could have put them anywhere from #9 to #16. I went with 14 because I still like Yale’s overall resume, and I want to see Princeton notch another big win. The Tigers could have gone higher, and if they beat Brown this week, they certainly will.

15) Marquette (Ohio State) – Between March 8th and March 21st, Marquette played zero games. They came back and lost 10-9 to a Georgetown team I have at #13. With a number of top 20 games at the end of the year, the Golden Eagles could still climb the polls again, but that two week + break clearly didn’t help them. That is some bizarre scheduling, but now it’s over. Can Marquette regroup and finish strong?

16) Loyola (Loyola) – If I gave out an enigma wrapped in a shroud of mystery award, it would go to Loyola. They have top 20 wins and top 20 losses. they have losses outside the top 20, and some wins. I can not figure this team out. Their 5-4 record doesn’t help. Loyola’s last 5 games are all tough and at least 4 of them are must win games if Loyola wants any shot at a bid outside the Patriot AQ.

17) Ohio State (Army) – I have to keep reminding myself that one game does not make or break a season, but OSU look horrible against Notre Dame. Their offense looked beyond basic, and no other areas really shone for the team. That being said, they usually play better lacrosse than that, and have a solid resume, so they are in the Top 20. Play like that again, and OSU could be on the outside looking in. That was a bizarre day of lacrosse for a rising team, and I’ll call it a fluke… for now.

18) Fairfield (Towson) – Oh hi, Fairfield! You have a couple solid wins and all of your losses are by one goal? I’ll bite and give you a vote this week. You’re welcome! If Fairfield wants to stay and rise, they really do need to win out in their last 5 games.

19) Bucknell (Boston University) – Bucknell’s win over Brown has them in the Top 20 for sure, but their 3 losses to OK teams, all by a goal or two, has me a little worried. I love a team that can beat Brown, but you need to follow a win like that with a win over Boston University, and not a loss. BU is now in my top 20, but Fairfield, Bucknell, and BU are all there by a thread over Hopkins, Towson, and a couple others. I’m giving some new blood a look this week, ok?

20) Boston University (Johns Hopkins) – BU is 6-2, but they don’t have any truly noteworthy wins and they  have lost to Providence and Lehigh. I like both programs, but BU needs a big win to prove they belong. Thankfully, they will have plenty of chances to do just that as they take on Navy, Army, Holy Cross, Duke, Harvard, and Loyola in their last six games. Watch this team!!!!!

This Week’s Big Problem: Hopkins

How, judging by the games played, can anyone rank Johns Hopkins in the Top 20? I mean, I LOVE this team on paper, and they have played some very fun, spirited, and excellent lacrosse at times this year… but they are 3-5. THREE wins and FIVE losses. Their best win is over VILLANOVA, whom the media poll had at 25th.

Seriously, someone explain to me how they voted for Hopkins in this week’s Top 20. I will take an answer from anyone!

ZERO big wins.

FIVE losses.

Wins over UMBC, Villanova, and Navy get them in? REALLY?

I get that they played tough in all of their losses, I really do. I also love how they played in a lot of those losses, I really do. BUT THEY WERE ALL LOSSES. At a certain point, we have to rank teams on what they have done THIS YEAR, and a 3-5 record with no top 20 wins is not a strong enough record to get you into the polls. It’s just not. It won’t get you in to the NCAAs, so why does it work here? C’mon voters… we all love Hop, but they need to win to be ranked. Period.