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Is This Poll SERIOUS?!?! NCAA 2018 Week 2

Week 2 is a terrible time of year to be doing a poll. With so few games having been played, let alone ranked teams playing each other, true comparisons are tough. The other question that must be asked during Week 2 is if a team has only played once, was it a good game or bad game? And how do you value that? If twice, which one really represents what they’re capable of? Which examples showed a team playing their best versus their worst?

Another big Week 2 question I always ask myself is when does “a win is a win” start to really outweigh a gaudy margin of victory? We had this debate all last year with Syracuse and their propensity to only win by one regardless of opponent, but plenty of teams are winning mostly by single goals or not much more than that.

When that’s all you have to go buy to rank teams… good luck.

ncaa lacrosse cartoon

What a great Week 2 D1 lacrosse cartoon from Jim Fenzel (above!). Plus more #Laxcots!

What I try to do is not overreact to any one game. Ideally, nobody moves ten spots because of a win or loss. That means that some teams may linger in a certain spot longer than they should, but it should also avoid moving a team up to the top five because of a single good win. Hopefully, it all stays in relative balance, and as the season progresses, a more accurate picture is painted.

So, here are my personal Week 2 top 20 votes, with some sort of description, and a note of where that team stands in the national media poll, which can be found here.

Here is the set up:

My Rank / Team Name / My Rank Last Week

Games last week

National Media Poll Rank

My Ramblings!

Week 2 Is This Poll SERIOUS?!?!

1 Albany LW: 1

Games: W 15-3 vs. Syracuse

National Poll: 2

This was a WIN by the Great Danes. The Dans have almost always struggled against Syracuse, and they’ve never had a win like this. Their offense was patient until the score really started to open up and then we saw a flash of Albany pouring it on. Honestly, at halftime it did not feel that out of hand. But as Albany played looser and the game wore on, they took more chances and were rewarded. Their defense is very underrated as they refused to give Syracuse any solid looks from inside or out. Every feed inside was contested, and no lanes outside were easy to find. Goalkeeping was a real solid point for Albany and face off play was dominant.

2 Duke LW: 2

Games: 15-12 W vs. Denver

National Poll: 1

Duke ALMOST slipped up here against Denver, but a massive fourth quarter put them on top and they deservedly have the number one position in the national poll. Their schedule doesn’t get much easier, so the Blue Devils have plenty of opportunity to show they are the best in the land, and they might be!

3 Ohio State LW: 4

Games: 9-7 W vs. Hofstra

National Poll: 5

The Buckeyes are sitting at 3-0 and looking GOOD. Hofstra and BU are both solid wins against teams that are trying to push for their leagues titles. I have them a little higher than the national poll, but I’m ok with that. OSU is consistently winning good games early on. It’s a great sign of things to come.

4 Maryland LW: 3

Games: 13-7 W vs. Marist; 16-14 W vs. High Point

National Poll: 3

Maryland lost all of their number one votes after everyone saw Albany and Duke win their games. Maryland hasn’t helped themselves by not really having strong, convincing wins. They have earned the benefit of the doubt over the past several seasons, so they are not going to drop much unless they start losing games. Wins are wins after all!

5 Notre Dame LW: 7

Games: Did not play

National Poll: 8

I mostly moved the Idle Irish up a bit because of Denver and Yale losing. Call it the luck of the Irish… and scheduling. Expect ND to look a little different the next time they hit the field, as two weeks of practice should have the Irish primed.

6 Denver LW: 5

Games: 15-12 L vs. Duke

National Poll: 4

Denver almost came away with the win over Duke, but… they didn’t. They did show how dangerous they are and how difficult it will be to beat them. There’s no question that Denver will be a force in May once again as they can gain more possessions than most teams and then score on a high percentage of their possessions. It’s Denver ball, and if the D improves (it certainly can), Denver is right back at it and pushing for another Final Four.

7 Army LW: 8

Games: 14-5 W vs. NJIT; 9-7 W vs. Rutgers

National Poll: 9

Army won their first true test by toppling Rutgers and now the team is getting ready for Syracuse. This is always my favorite game of the year. Army recruits heavily from central New York, so the game always carries a little bit of extra weight. Adding in a strong presence from Fort Drum nearby, the atmosphere is terrific. Neither team will ever give up and it’s as physical of a game as you’ll see.

8 Yale LW: 6

Games: 10-9 L Vs. Villanova

National Poll: 11

Yale dropping to Nova was a shock. The national poll dropped them even more, but like I said in the intro, I try not to overreact to a single game.  They should be better than this one game but will need to begin to prove that quickly after the surprise loss.

9 UNC LW: 9

Games: 12-11 W vs. Lehigh

National Poll: 12

Going strictly by scoring margin and expectations, UNC should probably be at about 20. They are grossly underperforming. But they just keep winning! WOOO! I’m keeping an eye on UNC, but the pieces are there and wins are still wins.

10 Penn State LW: 12

Games: 15-8 W vs. Stony Brook

National Poll: 15

Penn State bounced back from their Villanova loss to a good win over Stony Brook. They’re still a dangerous team that is going to push for the Big Ten title.

11 UVA LW: 14

Games: 13-8 W vs. Drexel

National Poll: 6

There is some major hype around Virginia right now. They topped Loyola, who went on to beat Hopkins, and scored a solid win over Drexel. I think they are more than deserving of a good ranking, but I really think going up to the six spot is too high. Seeing as I have them at 11 that means there are more than a few ballots that have them at 5 or higher, right? MATH!

12 Loyola LW: 15

Games: 12-5 W vs. Hopkins

National Poll: 10

Loyola’s win over Hopkins was flat out dominant. I really can’t wait to see them play Army in their Patriot schedule. That is shaping up to be a great one and Loyola has a lot of pieces in place. Additional scoring depth will help as it develops, but this is a really solid group and Pat Spencer is fun to watch operate.

13 Villanova LW: 20

Games: 10-9 W vs. Yale

National Poll: 7

I try not to overreact, but Villanova is making that very tough. They have two of the best wins you’ve seen in the country so far. For me in 2018, Nova has gone from unranked, to the 20 spot, to 13, while the national poll has them at 7. Honestly, I agree with the national poll, but I try to stick to my rules as much as possible. If they keep winning like this, there won’t be much of an argument against their continued rise.

14 Towson LW: 13

Games: 15-13 W vs. Mt. Saint Mary’s

National Poll: 19

Towson is mostly hovering for me right now. They would have stayed totally stationary if not for Villanova doing their thing. With Georgetown and Loyola up next, they get a few more excellent out of conference tests and a chance to better their impression.

15 Syracuse LW: 10

Games: 15-3 L vs. Albany

National Poll: 16

Not many teams had a worse weekend than Syracuse. This SHOULD be the worst game of theirs all year. If it’s not… well, this will be a long season. I did like their physical defensive effort, but their offense was not on the same page all game long. Another showing like this against Army will definitely be a loss.

16 Hopkins LW: 11

Games: 12-5 L vs. Loyola

National Poll: 14

Speaking of teams having a terrible day, Hopkins was right there with Cuse. It does however make their upcoming matchup and interesting one…

17 Marquette LW: 16

Games: 11-10 W vs. Jacksonville

National Poll: Not Ranked

Marquette is largely here due to preseason expectations still. Jacksonville is a game I’d expect Marquette to win by a little more, but the Dolphins are also tough to gauge right now.

18 Rutgers LW: 17

Games: 9-7 L vs. Army

National Poll: 13

Rutgers had a good shot at beating Army, but their two point second half was just not going to cut it. There is still a ton of faith in them nationally by having them up at 13, but that seems a bit too high to me at the moment.

19 Vermont LW: UR

Games: 15-3 W vs. Holy Cross

National Poll: 17

I was also looking at BU and Colgate for this spot, but that Vermont defense has been something else. They currently have the number two scoring defense in the country, and this is a team that will throw takeaway checks! It’s a fun squad to watch on both ends of the field. Given Quinnipiac’s win over Brown, that should be an interesting matchup this week.

20 Providence LW: 19

Games: 13-8 W vs. Bryant

National Poll: Not Ranked

I’m one of the only people to still have Providence ranked, and I’m OK with that. They looked sketchy for most of the game against Bryant, but finally turned it on. They don’t have another true test until March when they host Harvard, so I may wind up keeping them here for a while. If they drop a game before then, they’ll definitely lose this vote. Same goes for one of the other teams knocking on the door gets a big win.

Who did I leave out?

Princeton and Colgate. Princeton is mostly still in the national poll due to preseason expectations. Their opening win over Monmouth took overtime and was the result of a strong second half from Hawks.

Colgate, on the other hand, is really turning some heads right now. They are 3-0 with a dominating win over Binghamton (matching Syracuse’s goal outputs against the Bearcats), and beat both Marist and Cornell. None are really marquee wins, but it’s a solid resume and it has me paying a lot of attention to ‘Gate moving forward.