There is a new top team in men’s D1 lacrosse this week, and it’s no longer Denver! We still have plenty of undefeated teams, lots of big games to go, and tons to sort out, but our polls are really starting to take on a more semi-permanent existence. Was there movement this week from last week? Oh Yeah, there was lots of movement! Let’s take a look at my Top 20 Votes for the weekly IL Media Poll, brought to you by Cascade and Maverik!
New Top Team Poll Votes
1) Syracuse – If you’re undefeated and you beat the #1 team, you should probably be #1, so why is UNC number 2 in my poll? It’s a good question actually! Syracuse, to me, is the number #1 team right now, and they are my new top team. They have four wins, the closest by 3 goals, and three of their wins are against rock solid top 20 competition. Their resume, right now, looks superb for the #1 spot.
2) North Carolina – Now I’m not knocking UNC here with a #2 vote although you could see it as such, I guess. I simply like Syracuse’s four wins more than I like UNC’s five wins, but it’s close! If I could split the #1 vote, I might have but I couldn’t, so UNC is #2 this week, but there is a lot of season left to go. From March 17th to April 18th UNC plays SIX top 11 teams… can’t wait for that!
3) Notre Dame – ND is quietly rolling along now at 3-0, but they remain largely untested. On March 7th the Irish will play Denver, and everyone in the lacrosse world wants to see that game. It will be ND’s first big test, and it will give Denver the chance to knock off a top level team of their own.
4) Virginia – Syracuse looked like the better team on Sunday, but UVa still looked good… Top 5 good in my opinion! This is a dangerous team right now, but if their D improves (and I think it will), then UVa has all the potential in the world to beat anyone. Huge games loom for UVa against Cornell, St. Joseph’s Notre Dame and Hopkins. Win all four games and you have a top 2 or 3 team. Lose one and who knows… it all depends on which game(s) get dropped!
5) Denver – I actually had a hard time dropping Denver this low and was tempted to keep them up at #3. In the end, I had to bump ND up for now, and placing UVa over Denver makes little to no sense, but I did it anyway. The Pioneers’ game with ND on March 7th is huge for both teams!
6) Yale – Hi, we’re 3-0 Yale and we have wins over Maryland, UMass Lowell, and Bryant. Only the MD game was tight and we still won that game by 4, 10-6. We might not look like a Top 10 team but we are! Deal with it! St. John’s and Fairfield are upcoming trap games, and then Yale takes on Cornell, Princeton, and Penn, and in Ivy schedule gauntlet.
7) Duke – Duke looked good against Harvard, who also looked pretty darn good! I love how Duke is spreading out their O with long shots from kick back passes, but also exploring the high crease like they own it. The Blue Devils get LOTS of good looks, and this team will continue to rally as the season goes on. There could be another hiccup or two, but Duke is still a contender. Make no mistakes about it.
8) Cornell – A big win over Albany has Cornell climbing the polls again. Their early season loss to Cuse can be discounted somewhat due to limited practices, but games against Virginia, Yale, Colgate, and Penn will tell us how far the Big Red has come so far. Win all four and you’re looking at a top 5 team easy.
9) Army – Army just can’t stop moving up. A tight loss to Cuse had some doubting the Black Knights still, but results are results, and Army has four convincing wins on their slate already. If you haven’t seen Army play yet, make a point to do so. It’s not your same old Army program, I can promise you that much!
10) Albany – Cornell really stepped up and took it to Albany this past weekend and the Danes will need to quickly rebound with wins over UMass, Stony Brook, Canisius, and Hartford, before they play at Harvard on March 24th. I’ll allow a team a loss to a closely ranked competitor, but they also need to follow that loss up with some quality wins, or the program has to drop down a bit.
11) Maryland – If you discount Maryland’s loss to Yale for some reason (I still haven’t thought of one other than – Yale is good), the rest of their resume is pretty strong. And 8-1 win over Navy, an 11-7 win over Top 20 Penn, and last weekend, a 12-3 win over Drexel. All impressive. The Terps are seeing some restructuring, but still look competitive. If that restructuring works, they will be much better in May, so watch out for the Terps.
12) Towson – Towson has a win over Hop and a loss to Loyola to go with two more solid wins. They may be a little high right now, but maybe not. For now, they get the benefit of the doubt. The only problem for Towson is that they don’t play another Top 20 team (at least according to today’s polls) for the rest of the season. Two losses and they’ll be out of the Top 20. If they keep winning, well they can certainly move up if others lose suspect games.
13) Harvard – When you watch Harvard’s defense, you see all the talent in the world. They have good poles, a rock solid goalie, and good athletes on the team. What you don’t see is a ton of cohesion. For a long time, Harvard was all about team play as they lacked depth when it came to better athletes and players. Now they seem to have that depth, but have lost some of the team play they used so well. If they can get it back, Harvard can be a tough out for anyone. If they continue to lack that team spark, they will stay where they are, or move down. Keep an eye on Harvard to see what happens!
14) Princeton – Close wins over Hofstra and Johns Hopkins are saying good things to me about Princeton. It shows a lack of panic, their ability to score goals, and that they can beat Top 20 caliber opponents. Princeton is showing that they are far from “down” in 2015… it doesn’t matter who is off the roster. Offensively, Princeton does not have stars, but they do have good team players with skill. When they play together, their entire unit gets better, together. It’s fun to watch and is real team lacrosse.
15) Marquette – Should Marquette be higher? At 5-0, probably, but the problem here is that none of the teams the Golden Eagles have beaten are regarded all that strongly. Lehigh, Hofstra, Richmond, Detroit, Ohio State… all are “good” but not are truly top 20 teams… and Marquette won’t play a top 20 team until April 7th. But whatever! Keep winning Golden Eagles and you’ll keep inching upwards!
16) Loyola – Honestly, I don’t know what to make of Loyola anymore. They have good wins, and some tough losses. They have lost two games 13-12, and have won a top 20 game by scoring 15 goals and won a non-top 20 games by scoring 8 goals and giving up 6. What is going on with the Hounds this year? NO ONE KNOWS. For now they are still top 20, but their next two games are HUGE. Duke on March 7th and then Army on March 14th. Win ’em both and Loyola is fully back in business. Lose them both? We’re back to who-knows-ville.
17) Brown – Brown is 2-0 and and they have convincing wins over Quinnipiac and UMass. Sure, those aren’t world beater wins, but I’ll give Brown the nod to join the Top 20 as both wins were strong showings on offense for the Bears. I like a team that averages 17.5 goals per game. Who doesn’t?
18) Penn – Penn won two tight games against non-Top 20 teams. Then they lost to Maryland by four and Penn State by 3. Why are they still in my Top 20? I actually can’t answer that question. Penn needs to be Lafayette and Villanova in convincing fashion this week. Lose a game and they will drop out of the Top 20 altogether.
19) Marist – Nothing to see here except Marist going 2-0 with wins over Air Force and Binghamton. With zero top 20 games on their schedule, Marist won’t move up, but if they can keep winning, I’ll think about keeping them around.
20) Colgate – The Raiders are 4-0, and haven’t played anyone great yet. Like Marist, if they keep winning, I’ll keep them in. But unlike Marist, Colgate does play a couple top level teams later in the year. Maybe Colgate is a lot better than I thought? It will be fun to watch it play out. I’d be happy to see them surprise me!