UNC vs Loyola Lacrosse Scrimmage North Carolina is number 1
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North Carolina Is Number 1 – Is This Poll Serious?

My Top 20 votes this year have been all over the place, now that North Carolina is number 1, things are only getting crazier. In last week’s post we got a comment from kdasilva and he called me out for using circular logic and you know what? He was right! But I do that every week, and so does every single voter in every single poll for every single sport.

Photo Credit: Craig Chase

Polls are inherently subjective, and therefore they are always potentially flawed. Even a ranking system like LaxPower has certain biases and subjective pieces of information being used in their ranking formula. For example, there is a quality win factor in Laxpower’s formula, but there is some subjective material in determining what a “quality win” actually meant when the formula was originally created, right? The same goes for the old BCS. Remember how “perfect” that was?

The point is that polls are flawed, and that they don’t mean as much as many people seem to think. They exist for fun, and for people to throw out their best guesses on who the best team in the country will be for another year. Do I use circular logic and contradict myself in my polls? You bet! It would simply be impossible not to!

North Carolina Is Number 1

1) North Carolina – Last week I had UNC at #4, they beat Syracuse, and now I have them at #1? How does that work? Remember I also had Cuse at #1 last week! Honestly, I simply re-evaluated where I was ranking teams, and tried to take a fresh look at who I truly thought was the best team in the country. I considered UNC, Maryland, Notre Dame, Denver and even Syracuse still, but in the end went with UNC and I feel confident in this pick! Every team in the country has at least one loss, so everyone can lose. Which team do YOU find the least likely to lose again? For me, it’s UNC right now. This team can score as well as any UNC team ever, their defense continues to look solid and they can play good, smart lacrosse. That sounds like a number one team to me.

2) Maryland – How can I have Maryland jumping Cuse and ND in one week? The fact that they just beat a Rutgers team with a 4-9 record by a 9-8 score does not inspire confidence either… but when I looked at their overall record, their annual performance, I was impressed. If their last two games had been a little less tight, I might have even bumped the Terps up to #1! I’m telling you, I am taking a serious new look at my Top 20 teams this week! I like Maryland, I like ’em a lot.

3) Notre Dame – I am starting to feel bad for Notre Dame in my own poll. This team has been crushing it all year, and I love the way they play and what they bring to the table. I keep kicking myself for not ranking them at #1 yet, but each week I have felt that another team was the top program in the nation. That being said, the Irish should be considered a strong contender to win the national title this year. ND is more like team # 1.3, not team not #3. Every other pollster has them at #1.

4) Syracuse – I still believe in the Orange and think they are a top level team. There is really no doubt about that, but when they face another top level team, I’m starting to have some doubts. They are small doubts, but they are percolating on the defensive side of the ball for the Orange right now.

5) Denver – Denver’s ranking might be the hardest of all the top 5 teams. I can see them anywhere from #1 (although that may be stretch) to #6. Their recent string of wins shows a more cohesive and dominant team, and the Pioneers seem to be coming together at the right time, ready to make a great late season push to the top. All five of my top 5 teams should be considered favorites to win the title this year, and that’s what makes ranking them so darn hard!

6) Cornell – I’m having a hard time keeping Cornell this high, but I still think they are the team to beat in the Ivy right now. In that chaotic conference though, things could change tomorrow. I can see four different teams in the Ivy winning the AQ at this moment, and two more have the potential to put on a run and do so as well. This six spot is almost like a place holder for some Ivy team, and right now it’s still Cornell.

7) Albany – Remember when Rob Pannell set the single season scoring record and Cornell went on that crazy run? Lyle Thompson is about to break that record, which means I like Albany to ride him deep into the playoffs. Their SOS isn’t great, but their offense sure is!

8) Duke – Duke dropped three games to Top 4 teams, and then beat Virginia by 7 goals. All of their losses are to Top 5 teams. This is a tested group now, and if I’m right and they are rounding a corner here, watch out D1 lacrosse. Dark horse contender in the Blue Devils right now.

9) Army – I know, I know… Army just lost to Navy and Navy also has an 8-4 record, and I didn’t even rank them. How can I justify that? Honestly, I can’t. Navy has arguably better losses AND they won the head to head match up. I just like Army I guess. From early in the season I have liked this team’s make up, and to me they are a top 10 team. I just can’t get over it I guess. My personal, subjective bias shows more heavily in this pick than anywhere else.

10) Virginia – UVa is still in really solid shape right now. Their loss to Duke wasn’t great, but overall they have a strong resume on paper and on the field. When this teams plays its best, it is better than a #10 ranking and should be dangerous the rest of the way.

11) Yale – The Bulldogs are a tough nut to crack. The Ivy is so up and down and unpredictable that it’s hard to give too much importance to Yale’s losses to Princeton and Cornell. Ivy teams are going to lose games to other Ivy teams. It’s GOING to happen. And outside of that, Yale has been perfect. I could see them a lot higher in the polls. It would make sense.

12) Brown – The Bears have averaged 10.3 goals per game in their last 3 games and it is clear that a lower-scoring approach simply does not work for this team. If Brown can restart their offensive engine, they can climb back up, but if it falters they are in trouble. Brown averaged about 18 goals per game in their 7 earlier wins this year. They need to get back to those levels.

13) Georgetown – The Hoyas play UVa on the 18th and that is a big statement game for both teams. If the Hoyas win they will be on everyone’s radar. They possess a strong resume as a competitive team, and could be ranked lower than they deserve. That UVa game should be a battle and an awesome game!

14) Princeton – I like the Tigers, but I don’t understand a 16-15 shootout loss to Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks have not been doing much of that all year, and it makes me shake my head, in a bad way. The Tigers have looked like a well controlled machine at times, and for that reason I’ll keep them in the top 15. This is a solid team, but they can’t drop games like that and plan to live long in the playoffs.

15) Loyola – If I didn’t like Army so much, Loyola might not be here. The Hounds need to thank the USMA for that one. Against Maryland, Loyola really played Loyola lacrosse, and almost pulled out the W. Against BU, Loyola played a little slower, and it was an 8-6 win. I’m still waiting for the Loyola transition explosion of goals. The Hounds will need it if they want to make a run in the postseason.

16) Stony Brook – Another good team that recently lost to Lehigh… do I need to start ranking the 6-8 Mountain Hawks? What gives? Stony Brook has a great resume so far, and look solid, but I’m not sure they are capable of making a deep run and making noise in the NCAAs which is why I have them lower than Princeton, whom they beat. Give Duke a game or win and I’ll shut my mouth.

17) Towson – All right, Towson, you’ve proved you’re a top 20 team now, and I like how you grind out wins over all kinds of teams. Best team in the Colonial? I’d say so!

18) Ohio State – OSU has two games that were… less than stellar. If you look past those, OSU could be a Top 10 team. Unfortunately, I can’t get those memories of the ND out of my head completely, even though I have tried. OSU is still somewhat of an enigma to me. When they play well, they’re great. The problem seems to be sometimes they just don’t.

19) Marquette – Overall, Marquette has a solid record and has done well this year. They have been all over the place in terms of poll rankings, but then again, so have their wins and losses, so it’s fair. This isn’t shocking for a program on the rise, but it does show that Marquette has plenty of Top 20 life left in them, and likely will for years to come.

20) Richmond – The Spiders make an entrance into my Top 20 and they are my favorite in the Southern Conference this year. They lack signature wins, but they have been competitive, sit at 8-4, and could be pretty well prepared to play a good NCAA game. Program has a good trajectory and this team seems to be improving as the season goes on.

Question of the Week – No Navy? No Way!

I’m feeling for Navy right now. They really did deserve to ranked this week, and they’re my number 21 team right now… not that it means anything. With another big win, Navy could climb quickly, and they have plenty of opportunity to do that in the Patriot League tournament. If they win out there, they could climb as high as 10th, and then play Air Force before the NCAAs. They’re a hard team to gauge but definitely a team to watch!