NCAA Week 6 – Is this poll SERIOUS?!?!
Putting together a ballot is getting tougher and tougher. Usually, the top 20 teams are relatively easy to figure out, with some tough decisions around 20. Right now, it’s not clear at all. I was talking to one fellow voter about this difficult situation, and they summed it up nicely. You’re forced to rate volume of wins against strength of schedule.
The top 15 or so of anyone’s ballot is largely the same. After that, there are at least 10, if not more, teams that are in contention with highly questionable resumes. How you value mediocre to poor performance against great competition will be different from great performances against mediocre competition in each voter’s eyes. So let’s take a stroll through my votes for this week’s top 20 to see how things shake out.
So, here are my personal top 20 votes, some sort of description, and a note of where that team stands in the national media poll.
My Rank/Team/My Rank Last Week
Games this week
National Media Poll Rank
1 Albany LW: 1
Games: 21-5 W vs. Vermont
National Poll: 1
Albany blew out the 2nd best PPG defense in the country. It’s no shock that they still have all 30 first place votes once again. That won’t be changing until they lose a game.
2 Maryland LW: 2
Games: 13-11 W vs. Villanova
National Poll: 2
This top five really is easy. Unless Maryland loses again, they’re not moving. They do not have every #2 vote, though. But it’s enough of a margin, I really suspect they’ll be staying here for a while.
3 Duke LW: 3
Games: 10-8 W vs. Towson; 9-3 W vs. Cleveland St.
National Poll: 3
This week scared me a little with Duke. They should have beat Towson by a little bit more, and the Cleveland State game can be attributed to the short turnaround. Either way, this is a far cry from the explosive way they started the season. How they handle Syracuse on Saturday will be interesting. I honestly have no idea what to expect, that’s more Syracuse’s fault.
4 Notre Dame LW: 4
Games: 9-7 W vs. UVA
National Poll: 4
Notre Dame did a great job handling Virginia and made all the right adjustments they needed to as the game evolved. This is turning into a fantastic rivalry and must see TV. Despite a shaky start to the season, Notre Dame is looking more and more like they truly belong in this spot.
5 Denver LW: 5
Games: 12-7 W vs. Ohio State
National Poll: 5
Denver’s win over Ohio State took a little time, but they eventually got things rolling. They weren’t loaded with question marks to start the year, but those they had are being answered. And they’re being answered by Ethan Walker.
6 Loyola LW: 7
Games: 15-9 W vs. Navy
National Poll: 6
Pat Spencer is ridiculous. Just throwing that out there.
7 Yale LW: 9
Games: 13-11 W vs. Cornell
National Poll: 6
To start the season, this win would have caused some concern. But Cornell is playing way better than they were expected to, and Yale is shaping up like I thought they would. They are still looking like the team to beat in the Ivy.
8 UVA LW:6
Games: 9-7 L vs. Notre Dame
National Poll: 10
Another ACC game, another loss. It’s becoming an old story, but for a team this good to not be able to win a league game is just sad. They still have a shot against UNC, though. The no league wins thing matter less with no AQ, but being able to get a late season RPI boost by making their conference tourney would really help. If they can’t figure this out, it may not matter what they do outside of the conference.
9 Hopkins LW: 11
Games: 13-6 W vs. UMBC; 14-8 W vs. Delaware
National Poll: 9
Hopkins is finally turning into the team I was hoping to see from them to start the season. As basketball fans learned, beating UMBC is no small task in the month of May. Hopkins did that handily, and then followed up with a good win over Delaware. They are improving at the right time.
10 Villanova LW: 8
Games: 13-11 L vs. Maryland
National Poll: 8
Villanova lost to Maryland, and only by two goals. Yes, that loss to Brown sucks, but playing Maryland close and beating Yale, Penn, and Hofstra is a great record right now.
11 Army LW: 12
Games: 5-3 W vs. Holy Cross
National Poll: 13
5-3 is such a terrible score but it is so patriot league. Holy Cross is just not a good team this year, but somehow, they caused Army fits. The Black Knights have too much firepower on offense to allow something like this to happen again. Their defense is what I’d expect, but this was not a good showing on O.
12 Rutgers LW: 14
Games: 8-7 W vs. Lehigh; 14-10 W vs. Syracuse
National Poll: 11
Rutgers looked fantastic against Syracuse on Saturday, and the win over Lehigh was a big one. In terms of the importance of those two wins, they should have climbed more than two spots. But, they lost to Army ahead of them, and I don’t feel like they are better than Villanova. Rutgers is now almost done with non-conference play. They have one game against Delaware, then it’s all Big Ten. If they stay strong there, they could even host a game. Coming off a record crows this weekend, that’s a great goal to have.
13 Lehigh LW: 15
Games: 8-7 L vs. Rutgers; 13-11 W vs. Lafayette
National Poll: 12
With only losses to Rutgers and UNC right now, Lehigh’s wins over Army and Colgate are what keeps them this high. Their losses are close, and they beat the teams they should. Right about here feels right for them at the moment. Hofstra will be a great game, though.
14 Penn LW: 16
Games: 14-7 W vs. Princeton
National Poll: 16
Penn is an off 4-3. Losses to Maryland, Penn State, and Villanova. But wins over Duke and Princeton. They took over against Princeton late and turned a close game into a rout. They have several playmakers who can step up when needed.
15 UNC LW: 10
Games: 11-10 L vs. Richmond
National Poll: 20
Now we’re into the shaky part of the bracket. UNC had six straight wins which two were good, and now have three straight losses of which two were “OK”. They weren’t good losses, but they weren’t terrible. I still feel like they deserve top 20 consideration right now, but with Maryland and Duke up next, they may be at 6-5 before we know it.
16 Syracuse LW: 13
Games: 14-10 L vs. Rutgers
National Poll: 15
Syracuse looked great. For a quarter. With nearly every call going their way. Then they completely fell apart against Rutgers. Their youth on offense is definitely still showing and it’s becoming a problem. Of their six games, they have looked great in one, good in two, ugly in one, and terrible in two. A bad showing against Duke and this may be a bad team with some good games instead of a good team with bad games. It’s an important distinction.
17 Hofstra LW: 19
Games: 7-6 W vs. Monmouth, 12-8 W vs. Providence
National Poll: 19
Hofstra is starting to put things together despite their relatively tough opening schedule. A few wins help, but they need to pretty much win out the season to have hopes of an NCAA at large bid.
18 Vermont LW: 17
Games: 21-5 L vs. Albany
National Poll: 16
Vermont’s defense met their toughest match of the year and it did not go well. But, that will be said for many teams this year after seeing Albany. It’s hard to punish them too much for this loss, but this was their first real game of the year. They are in a great spot with mostly conference games left. But if they want to make the NCAA tournament, they’ll have to figure out how to hold Albany to much lower than 21.
19 Cornell LW: UR
Games: 11-13 L to Yale
National Poll: UR
Yes, I pulled Cornell into my ballot after a loss. So what. But when looking at the resumes of them compared to those that are knocking on the door, Cornell seems like a no-brainer. A win over Penn State puts them ahead of the Nittany Lions for sure. Close losses to Albany and Yale show they have a defense who can handle 3 of the top attackman in the country (they practice against another, so no surprise there). And their “easy” games were blowouts. I feel comfortable including them.
20 Ohio State LW: 18
Games: 12-7 L vs. Denver
National Poll: UR
OK, this you can shake your head at me for. Or worse. Your call. I may be just keeping them in because they have some serious potential, but I don’t feel great about it at all. Assuming they lose to Notre Dame this week, they’re absolutely out. If they win? I’m not sure I’ll even put them much higher, to be honest. It’s been a disappointing run so far for the Buckeyes.
Dropped from my ballot: Georgetown
Dropped from national poll: Towson
Also considered, but not in order: Towson, Jacksonville, Michigan, Robert Morris, Penn State
Who did I leave out? Robert Morris and Georgetown. Georgetown’s schedule is just not good. Sure they are racking up wins, but their best wins are Towson and Robert Morris. So, they’re definitely ahead of those two in my book. Robert Morris is right behind though, at my 22. They have Penn State and Towson nipping at their heels. It’s a mess of teams who have mostly played each other, which allows for relatively easy sorting. These teams are all so close, though.