For weeks I was basking in the sunlight of rewarding undefeated teams for being undefeated, and then basing a lot of the rest of my Top 20 on how teams stacked up to the undefeated few. The D1 Gods saw my hubris, and they smacked me down, ensuring that we would have no undefeated teams in D1 this year. Everyone is now a loser in at least some context.
It makes my job harder, but since polls are mostly irrelevant, I’m only losing like 20 minutes of sleep per night over it, so it’s no big deal. Also, it makes some of the other pollsters REALLY angry on Twitter, and that is hysterical. I do want to be clear that I don’t think the pollsters are losers… I’m only talking about D1 TEAMS here, and since everyone has a loss, everyone is a loser.
At least Anish Shroff has started to pick up on the “polls are meaningless (but fun)” bandwagon… it’s a good bandwagon to ride through Memorial Day Weekend. I’ve been on it for months! Welcome Anish, even if you’re a complete homer for some school or something something. Where did Anish go to school again? Oh, I DON’T CARE BECAUSE HE’S AWESOME.
Somehow I went from talking about everyone being a loser to Anish being awesome. It happens. The point that I was trying to make is that it’s now time to take a look at these teams’ bodies of work, and judge them not on just a couple of game results from the last few weeks.
Ryan, you there? What do you think?
Ryan Conwell: This week was rough for me – about half of my top 10 losing games while trying to find new teams to add around 19 or 20, all while dropping others, is proving to be nearly impossible. You can look at records, sure, but if we did that, there would be no point to having a poll. You would just have standings like in most professional sports. When taking a deeper look at teams’ records (AKA resumes), what jumps out are WHO they lost to.
Several teams have lost to Syracuse, Maryland, Denver, Notre Dame, Duke, etc. What is interesting is how many teams have lost to those schools while beating NOBODY with a winning record. Wins are important. Good wins are more important. This is a big reason why I don’t have Monmouth in my poll. They’re 10-3 with a two goal loss to Hofstra, an OT loss to St. Joseph’s, and an OT loss to Delaware. Their best win is the season opener over Villanova, but five of their wins are against teams with two wins or less. It’s easy to get a bigger number in the win column with a schedule like that.
Ok so Conwell is on board with the full body of work approach too… Cool. Let’s do this.
This week’s format is Ryan Conwell’s team rank, followed by the team, their ranking Last Week, and then his comments. Below that you’ll get Connor Wilson’s team selection and any comments.
1 Syracuse LW: 1 2 big wins for the Orange leave them firmly atop in my poll. Especially after losses by almost everyone behind them. Syracuse staged a monster comebacks down in North Carolina in a game where they were playing some terrible lacrosse for much of the time. That is what Syracuse has been doing, though. They win while playing bad, which is much better than only winning when you play your best. CONNOR: Syracuse – Not ranking Cuse at #1 would be a travesty, but some people will find a way to do it. Let’s make this really simple – the goal of a lacrosse game is to a) please the creator, and then b) score more goals than your opponent. If you do both things, you always win. Cuse has only not done this once and they have played a top flight schedule. If you win the national title by 10 goals or by 1 goal in a triple OT game you’re still the champ. This is sports 101.
2 Maryland LW: 4 After playing in Albany where they went down to the final minute having to defend Connor Fields’ best attempt at a game tying goal, the Terps then went to play Rutgers in a triple overtime Sunday nightcap. Quite a week for the Terps, and one that deservedly bring them up to my #2. CONNOR: Maryland – Again, these wins might have been tight, but they were against really good teams, and they were WINS. It’s simple – two good teams play, one wins. Reward the winner. Maryland’s overall resume is looking better and better.
3 Notre Dame LW: 7 Notre Dame’s only game this week was a Tuesday night feature against Marquette. They won of course, but a one goal win was not expected. There is not increased important for their upcoming game against UNC. They’re both in the ACC tournament, but they are playing for seeding and now both need to really boost their resumes for the NCAA pool. CONNOR: Duke – Could you put ND here? Sure. Denver is 9-2, but Duke is playing well NOW and look like a different team than when they lost two early games. Their other loss was in OT to Cuse. Duke is good. Stop sleeping on the Blue Devils, it’s almost May.
4 Denver LW: 8 Denver had a rather casual win over St. John’s. The win was expected, the margin was healthy, and Denver just keeps marching forward to the Big East title. Not much to see here. Highly competitive conference play is so much more fun to watch. CONNOR: Notre Dame – Solid all around, a good looking resume, and a strong team. Good to go at 4th.
5 Duke LW: 10 Duke just flat out destroyed UVA. When you look at their season though, their early loss to Air Force gave pause. Following that with 5 point loss to Denver was not good. Since then, it is just an OT loss to Cuse and wins over UNC, UVA, Notre Dame, and Loyola. The Blue Devils are really coming together at the right time. CONNOR: Denver – Don’t count Denver out just because I have them at 5th. First off, polls are meaningless, but also, pretty much anyone in my Top 10 could win the title if the chips fall the right way. It’s crazy and I like it.
6 Albany LW: 2 Albany’s only game this week was the loss to Maryland, a rescheduled game from earlier in the season. Neither team really wanted this as a mid-week game, but there is no way Maryland would have move it much closer to their Rutgers game. Albany is still definitely a good team, but when the game is on the line and you have two opportunities to draw up a play, why are they both “Connor, take the ball and go do something”? CONNOR: Hofstra – Listen, the loss to Drexel was terrible. No question there, but the Pride still have wins over UNC and Princeton, making them 2-0 in Top 20 games. At this point, I’ll give anyone a bad loss to shake off, but any more of these and the ‘Stra could drop quickly.
7 Hopkins LW: 11 Their win over Penn State was a big win for Hopkins. Before this game, the NCAA had already slotted them in the #8 seed for the tournament, so hosting a game is in their future. After this one, it would take a pretty terrible showing in the conference tournament to put them on the road. CONNOR: Army – Don’t give up on Army because they lost to Navy. That would just be foolish. That game is something else, Navy is talented but not playing that well, and revenge could prove sweet in the playoffs. This is a team that beat Cuse, the only team actually. It’s a serious resume booster.
8 Penn State LW: 5 Penn State continues to drop, losing their second straight to the Big Ten Blue Bloods. I’m pretty sure any program would find an undefeated season outside of losses to Hopkins and Maryland acceptable in just about every year, but that will not make Penn State feel any better. It does add some more intrigue to the Big Ten tournament, though. Penn State rallied late in this one and almost pulled off the comeback. If there is a rematch, they will be ready. CONNOR: Johns Hopkins – Listen, I don’t love ranking a 7-4 team this highly, but while Hop has a bunch more losses than most, they also play a really tough schedule and are 6-4 against teams I’d strongly consider for my Top 20. When Hop plays fast and fearless they look super. When they play conservative and timid I’d rather watch bowling. Not even pro bowling… like I’d rather just show up at a random lane and watch grannies bowl. Conservative and timid lacrosse is the worst. Hopkins is better than that.
9 Hofstra LW: 6 And down goes another one. The final undefeated team left in the country fell to Drexel in a CAA matchup. Drexel is not someone I am pegging for top 20 votes, but they are scarier than their record suggests. Their only questionable loss is Marist, everyone else is in or near the top 20. This still is not good for Hofstra, though. They still have to face Towson and deal with the conference tournament. Running the table would have locked in a home game. This starts casting some doubt there. CONNOR: Albany – It’s likely that I am undervaluing Albany right now, but they only have one win over a team with a winning record, and that’s 19-11 win over Stony Brook. SBU is 6-5. One goal losses are great, but Albany, like PSU, needs quality wins.
10 Ohio State LW: 9 I certainly expected Ohio State to win their game against Michigan, but not by 11. It was a very strong showing to follow up their Hopkins win from a week before. Their two game skid is firmly behind them now as they have Maryland up next. If you don’t think that will be a good game, you’re crazy. CONNOR: Penn State – I like PSU, but they are 1-2 against Top 20 teams and those two losses have popped up in their last two games. Any higher than 10 right now is undeserved for PSU. That being said, if PSU had won those last two games they’d be everyone’s clear cut #1. See? Wins and losses do matter, while margins and scores are less important. At least that’s what I tell myself.
11 Army LW: 3 This is the ultimate rivalry game, but that is still not an excuse for Army to drop this one to their aquatic service academy opponent. Navy has been underperforming all season while Army has been one of the more consistent teams in the country. With so little of a resume to really work from, I feel very justified in dropping Army further than I would normally like, especially given what is happening around them. CONNOR: Ohio State – OSU has more quality wins, PSU won head to head. Since the two were close, I put PSU a spot ahead. Similar situations for PSU, OSU, and Rutgers right now. Thank god the Big Ten is as good as it is… OR IS IT? This is why we play the games.
12 Richmond LW: 12 The spiders are still undefeated in SoCon play. They have a good win over UNC, but that is still just about it. They should win their conference and will likely be on the road to start the NCAA tournament. I can not think of a single team that would want to play their opening round game against Richmond, though. CONNOR: Yale – After dropping to 1-3 with a loss to UMass I was just about ready to give up on Yale, then they rattled off 7 wins, and now they face Harvard and Albany. Get two wins there and they skyrocket back into the Top 10. I’m moving them up in advance of this happening. Like Duke, Yale looks like a different team than they did even 3 weeks ago.
13 Rutgers LW: 13 Losing in triple overtime to Maryland? Yeah, that’s not going to hurt you much in my book. Not at all. CONNOR: Rutgers – This is where things start to get really tough because you get teams with great records, some good wins, and some questionable losses. I’ll take Rutgers two good wins (Princeton and Army) over their bad loss to Delaware. For now. Ryan’s right, the Maryland loss didn’t hurt, but it didn’t help!
14 Towson LW: 17 Towson continued their march through the CAA, beating a dangerous Delaware squad who has made a habit out of making life difficult for good teams. With just Fairfield left before the big matchup with Hofstra, things are looking good for the Tigers. CONNOR: Princeton – Listen, the loss to Lehigh is terrible, but their other losses are to teams well above them in my poll, AND they crushed Hopkins. That still counts for something.
15 Yale LW: 19 Yale continues their run through the Ivy as they only face Harvard before hosting the league tournament. Undefeated in league play sounds better than it is given the state of the Ivy League right now, but this is another one of those teams who will not be a fun draw in May if they get put into your schedule. CONNOR: Richmond – Maybe, maybe not! Good team, well coached, and they play their own style and pace, but I’m not sure they have what it takes to win the big one, but I’m willing to be surprised.
16 UNC LW: UR Have not lost to a bad team, but lack great wins. Outside of Denver, their best win is UVA. That being said, the team that played on Saturday is the best I have seen UNC play this season. They have been very inconsistent and really struggle against good teams. A loss to Notre Dame next week gives them no choice but to win the ACC tournament. A loss in the first round in this scenario puts them below .500 and they can’t even be eligible. CONNOR: UNC – I can get on board with this. They do need to win NOW though.
17 Providence LW: 18 The Friars have clinched a spot in their league tournament and just have the two toughest teams left. First, they have to play cross-town rival Brown which actually should be a fantastic game to catch. After that, it’s Denver and Nova before the league descends on Providence to figure out if someone can take the AQ from Denver. I feel like if someone will, it’ll be Providence. CONNOR: Towson – Why not?
18 Princeton LW: 14 What a weird team. They have mostly only lost to good teams, and have a few good wins. But then they go and lose to Lehigh? Lehigh has been good in the past, but this is just not their year. The Tigers are still a good spot from a league perspective, and will need to figure out how to beat Yale the second time around. CONNOR: Virginia – Yes, the Hoos have SIX losses, but five are to teams I’d expect #18 to lose to, and the other is to Penn early on. Wins over Richmond and Loyola (who I also like for an 18-20 spot) make a case, but it’s a weak one.
19 Loyola LW: 16 The only team with a winning record that Loyola has beaten all year is Towson. Yes, they have played other teams close, and lost to some of the best, but that is still not a good resume. Not that it’s news, but it’s AQ or bust for the Greyhounds. CONNOR: Providence – The Friars have been on the up and up for a couple years and it’s all coming together it seems. Well done.
20 Villanova LW: UR Villanova dropped off my radar pretty quickly this year. Their first three games were losses, but since their 1-4 start, they have lost to Denver and beaten Maryland, Brown, and Marquette. There are plenty of team that lack solid wins who are fighting for these last few spots. I really think Villanova’s done enough to get some consideration. Their game with Providence in two weeks will provide some clarity for the number two Big East spot. CONNOR: BU – What is up with Lehigh at 6-6? Anyway, BU looks solid, and showed guts in the Loyola win after two straight losses. That early Providence win is really helping BU now!
Ryan Dropped: Binghamton, Virginia
Ryan Looking at: BU
Connor Looking at: Anyone, please?