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Is This Poll Serious?!: Duke Still On Track For Success; Towson, UMass On Borrowed Time

It’s back! Once again, Inside Lacrosse was kind enough to offer me a ballot in their weekly NCAA Men’s D1 Media Poll. That means that Is “This Poll Is Serious?!” is back!

For those who haven’t followed us before, this will be a weekly spot where you will see what my picks for the top 20 poll were with some insight into why I have teams ranked where I do.

Now, there are two important things to remember with polls. One is that each voter should be choosing different teams in different places. If we all did the same thing, there’d be no point.

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The other important thing to remember is that when it comes down to it, the polls don’t matter. The teams still have to play their best on the field. They can help provide fans with an idea of what games should be good games, who’s favored, etc., but it will still be settled on the field.

Now, for a brief explanation about these early season ballots. This week, I referenced where I put teams for the preseason poll. Going forward, this will be where I had them listed the previous week in order to show any changes. It’s also important to know that in these early season polls, I try not to make drastic changes based on just one game. I really want to see teams plays two or three games before they start making major moves (with some exceptions). I usually will do a larger recalibration around Week 3 or 4 with teams I rank on my ballot.

Is This Poll Serious?!

My Ballot: The Top 20

1. Penn State (Last Week: 1)

National Poll: 1

W 19-10 vs Villanova

W 16-9 vs Lafayette

The 35 points that Penn State has put up so far this year may not match the 44 they had in two games last season, but I don’t think that means they’ve slowed down at all. They still have Grant Ament leading the offense (and country) in points per game, fueled by Gerard Arceri at the X.

2. UVA (Last Week: 2)

National Poll: 2

W 12-9 vs Loyola

This game started a little slow and ended very slow, but once UVA got rolling towards the end of the first and in the second quarter, they were impossible to stop. In that stretch, they had goals from five different scorers, and none were named Aitken, Laviano, or Kraus.

3. Yale (Last Week: 3)

National Poll: 3

No Games Yet

4. Maryland (Last Week: 4)

National Poll: 4

W 14-13 vs Richmond

W 23-12 vs High Point

I definitely considered dropping Maryland a spot or two after the Richmond game, but opted not to for now. The reason: the Terps’ comeback was incredible. If you were going to list every reason why Maryland should be good this year, they showed it in the fourth quarter. They weren’t winning faceoffs, but the defense was causing turnovers, their offense was scoring 1-v-1 and off the pass, and they were dictating the game.

5. Syracuse (Last Week: 5)

National Poll: 5

W 21-14 vs Colgate

The Orange showed some vulnerability on defense, but their offense was more than making up for it. For a first outing, this offense was already clicking. They move the ball much faster than in years past and usually had more shooters open than they could even pass to. They still have another warmup game until a ranked opponent shows up, so the defense still has time to come together.

6. Notre Dame (Last Week: 6)

National Poll: 7

No Games Yet

7. Penn (Last Week: 8)

National Poll: 6

No Games Yet

8. North Carolina (Last Week: 9)

National Poll: 8

W 14-6 vs Mercer

W 19-6 vs Colgate

UNC’s start against Colgate in the first weekend may have been the most impressive opening quarter we’ve seen this year. Working Chris Gray into this offense has been seamless so far. They have another warmup game with Lafayette before we get to see them against a ranked opponent (Hopkins) the following week.

9. Duke (Last Week: 7)

National Poll: 13

L  14-13 vs Air Force

W 17-8 vs High Point

We need to talk about Duke’s early season losses. Mostly, we need to talk about how them losing a game in February does not equal a championship in May, especially since it’s been five seasons since they won it all. So here’s a look at their seasons going back to 2010, noting their non-conference losses and end of season result.

A decade of Duke Lacrosse

2010: 3 early losses to top 10 opponents, wins 1st title

2011: Opening loss to eventual Ivy champion Penn, lose in NCAA Semis

2012: Early losses to Notre Dame, Maryland Loyola, lose in NCAA Semis

2013: The year that makes early losses the Duke MO. 2-4 start with losses to Denver, Notre Dame, Penn, and Maryland. Win their 2nd title in May.

2014: Lose to Maryland and Loyola in March, win 3rd Championship in May.

2015: Lose to Denver in 3rd game, lose in opening NCAA round to Ohio State.

2016: Losses to Denver, Harvard, Richmond, and Air Force. Lose in opening NCAA round to Loyola.

2017: Opening loss to Air Force, loss to Denver. Lose to Ohio State in NCAA Quarterfinals.

2018: February loss to Penn. Loss to Yale in NCAA Finals.

2019: Loss to High Point, Lose to Virginia in NCAA Semis.

2020: Opening loss to unranked Air Force. Check back in late May.

 

Duke vs Maryland 2018 NCAA Semifinals Ryan Conwell (6 of 32)
Photo: Ryan Conwell / LaxAllStars.com

10. Lehigh (Last Week: 10)

National Poll: 18

W 16-11 vs Utah

Lehigh had a good opening game against the visiting Utes, headlined by a nine-point day from sophomore Tommy Schelling. Keep in mind, Schelling had just 30 points in all of last season. Definitely expect the Hawks to be in the Patriot mix all season.

11. Cornell (Last Week: 11)

National Poll: 12

No Games Yet

12. Hopkins (Last Week: 12)

National Poll: 11

W 15-7 vs Towson

The Jays opened the season with one of the strongest wins between ranked opponents we’ve see this season. They dominated three quarters with Towson even without the presence of Joey Epstein, who is trying to recover from an injury. Cole Williams was more than happy to pick up the slack, being part of almost half of the team’s points.

13. Denver (Last Week: 13)

National Poll: 9

W 13-7 vs Air Force

Following Air Force’s upset of Duke last week, there was no way Denver would take them lightly. But even with that warning, it turned into a true back and forth game, with neither team having more than a one-goal lead for more than a minute until the fourth quarter when Denver took over. The most impressive stat line of this game? Denver’s JJ Sillstrop going 100 percent on 5-for-5 shooting. Five shots, all on goal, all scores. No assists. In his first college game. Said differently, he’s tied for sixth in the nation in goals per game and hasn’t missed a shot.

14. Rutgers (Last Week: 16)

National Poll: 20

W 17-10 vs St. John’s

W 20-9 vs Quinnipiac

Rutgers has perennially been filled with hope, but just can’t seem to make it out of their Big Ten schedule in one piece. Despite a few losses to graduation, they still have the duo of Adam Charalambides and Kieran Mullins leading the way at attack. In their 37 points across two games, these two have scored nine of them while combining for eight assists.

15. Army (Last Week: 17)

National Poll: 14

W 17-4 vs Umass

Army may have had the best start in the country. Being up 9-0 on UMass at halftime en route to a 17-4 win was impressive to say the least, especially considering that its defense was where they had question marks against a team returning nearly all of their offense. Army has had a knack for replacing great goalie after great goalie and may have done it again. The sophomore from Florida, Wyatt Schupler saw his first NCAA minutes and saved 13-out-of-17 shots, good for a 76% save percentage.

Photographer: Jeff Melnik

16. Ohio State (Last Week: Unranked)

National Poll: 10

W 11-4 vs BU

W 23-9 vs Detroit

As good as the win over Detroit was, Ohio State did a great job against BU, holding them to just a goal per quarter. The Buckeyes also had very balanced scoring, seeing goals from eight different players for their 11 points. I also realize I have had Ohio State much lower than other voters around the country, but one or two more games like this, and I will definitely be swayed.

17.  Georgetown (Last Week: 20)

National Poll: 15

W 17-3 vs Lafayette

It’s tough to draw too many conclusions from a game like this, but when the starting attack of Dylan Watson, Jake Carraway and Robert Clark produces 11 of their 17 goals, you get the feeling that they may just be OK trying to replace Daniel Bucaro’s production from 2019.

18. Loyola (Last Week: 18)

National Poll: 16

L 9-12 vs UVA

Loyola may have had one of the toughest tasks for starting its season. Trying to figure out an offense without Pat Spencer or Chase Scanlan against the defending national champs is a tall order. The fact that they were able to still get within three goals was very impressive. Loyola was having trouble all game trying to get any scoring inside, something that can easily be attributed to losing those two players. But if they can keep the same constant outside pressure they had, those spots will begin to open up.

19. UMass (Last Week: 14)

National Poll: Unranked

L 4-17 vs Army

I may be the only person in the country with Umass still ranked in the top 20, and some people (I’m looking at you, Patrick) are definitely wondering why. I really try not to overreact to a single game, but they are certainly on their way out. They have a tall order rebuilding their defense a bit, but their scoring should have not been a problem. There are certainly some red flags flying in Amherst after this one.

20. Towson (Last Week: 15)

National Poll: Unranked

L 7-15 vs Hopkins

Like UMass, the Tigers are also on borrowed time already. Could a better case be made for one of my next-in teams? Probably. Towson is definitely feeling the loss of Alex Woodall, only winning six faceoffs on the day. This is putting that much more pressure on their defense, who is without their leader Zach Goodrich for the first time in years.

Dropped Out:

19. High Point

I try not to drop teams from the top 20 too quickly, but after two big losses to Duke and Maryland, this has to be done.

Next Teams In My Top 20 Ballot:

These are the ones with the best shot at making my top 20 in the coming weeks, not in order: Richmond, Air Force, Delaware, Hofstra, Navy and Providence.

Who Did I Leave Out Of My Poll?

Richmond (Inside Lacrosse Poll Week 1 Ranking: 19)

Air Force (Inside Lacrosse Poll Week 1 Ranking:17)

Richmond really did ALMOST beat Maryland, but they didn’t despite several chances. I don’t quite see adding them to the top 20 just yet, but there is certainly major potential there. Air Force I can definitely understand. Two games against ranked opponents, and playing both of them tough? I think this goes to show how much better the SoCon is becoming.

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