Realpolitik is the idea that practical possession and exertion of power is more important than any moral or ideological stances, while RealPOLLitik is the idea that polls should reflect what teams have actually done, as opposed to what we think they may be capable of. We’re entering the time when RealPOLLitik is possible, and it’s always glorious, confusing, and more than a little dangerous. Thankfully, we’re talking about Top 20 D1 polls here, and not nuclear winter. I’ll take it where I can get it.
Here’s an intro from Ryan as well, so you can get into his frame of mind a little:
I need to take a moment to be an engineering nerd for as second here, but trust me, it’s relevant. When designing a holding fixture in manufacturing, you need to constrain the part on all three axes. Said a little differently, if you don’t want something to move, you need to stop it from moving in three different directions. I feel that is important here with ranking teams. One game makes it possible that it’s just a fluke. Two games may wind up being extremes of how a team can play, but you don’t know for sure yet. The third game can really give you the best idea of where a team is sitting in terms of talent and execution. The problem right now is some teams are at or beyond the three game mark, so we are getting a good picture there. Others just have a single game to judge from, or in the case of VMI, no games. What this means for me is I feel a little more confident in moving a more proven team around in the rankings than I did a week ago, but I still don’t feel great about it. In two weeks, these rankings are going to be based on a more solid body of work. For now, there is still plenty of debate and interpretation to be had.
So Ryan is saying I jumped the gun with the RealPOLLitik talk? Illiberality rules the day.
RealPOLLitik Poll – Week 2 D1 Poll
Rank | Media Poll | RC’s Vote | CW’s Vote | RC: comments CW: comments
1 | Maryland | Denver | UNC | RC: Denver has scored 14 in both of their games so far against Duke and Air Force. The Pios are really showing that they are who most expected them to be early on. Their next two games should be pretty routine as they have Cleveland State and Canisius on deck in the same weekend. Anything less than 10 point wins would be a shock. CW: I haven’t seen anything that says UNC is not #1, or that someone else is #1, so for now, I’m leaving the power structure alone in its hegemonic state with UNC at the top. This could all change, but for now it is what it is.
2 | Denver | UNC | Maryland | RC: UNC was my preseason #1, but after three games, I’m not feeling them quite as much. The teams below them are making a strong case to be higher, so I’ve dropped them one spot so far. They have wins over two teams who are a combined 0-7, and Lehigh’s two wins aren’t looking great right now, either. Seeing how they handle Hopkins and Denver next will really say if this is a top 5 team, or top 10. CW: Maryland is good. They can play fast, slow, win draws, and do whatever it takes to get the W. I like these guys a lot, AND I think they have the potential to get even better as the season progresses. Maryland isn’t peaking early, they’re just really, really good.
3 | UNC | Notre Dame | Notre Dame | RC: Notre Dame is another one of those teams where they haven’t hit that three game mark just yet to make me do anything drastic. Only beating Georgetown by 6 does give me some pause, and their looming date with Michigan will not help bring much clarity. Their third game against Maryland is going to be very important to provide some clear delineation in the top 5. CW: Like Conwell, I don’t love the 6 goal win over the Hoyas, but it’s a win and ND got it out of the way. They didn’t always dominate last year, but when the season was over, they had a fat stack of Ws in their pocket. I’m just being real, expect more of that.
4 | Johns Hopkins | Syracuse | Brown | RC: Two games under the belt for Syracuse, and we have seen them blow out Siena and win a close one against Albany. Against Siena, they had a slow start. They did the same against Albany, who really made them pay for it. Army is up next, which is always a battle. The boys from West Point are never intimidated by the Dome and are always playing with something to prove. It is one of my favorite matchups every time. CW: When you have over 100 combined possessions between two teams and around 60 combined turnovers, you expect a shootout, and we got it from Brown… sort of. Brown beat Quinnipiac 25-9, was up 10-3 at the half, scored 10 goals in the 3rd quarter alone, had 7 players score at least two points, went 24-38 on face offs, scooped up 53 ground balls, took 67 shots, and went 4- for 6 on the man up. Is Brown playing FASTER than they did in 2016? Sure looks like it.
5 | Notre Dame | Maryland | Denver RC: Maryland is now 3-0, and while I really like their win over Navy, the other two are not quite doing it for me just yet. Yale will be a great one on Saturday. I also had to move Maryland up because even though I don’t love their early schedule, their point totals are still something I can’t ignore. CW: Denver is good! Could they be #1? Sure! At this point, if you’re in the top 10 I’m still considering you as a potential #1 in only a week or two. It’s still anyone’s game. The 5 spot is a good place to be.
6 | Syracuse | Brown | Yale | RC: 25 points in your first ever game as a Division I coach has to be an encouraging sign for Brown’s Mike Daly. He really was one of those rare situations where he was truly the perfect hire to replace outgoing Lars Tiffany. Again, after one game I won’t jump to too many conclusions, but this is a very positive first sign. CW: Yale not being fancy, just being really solid, and winning game #1. What’s not to like about this team? When Henry Killinger reaches into his magic murder bag, he pulls out Yale. If you don’t get that reference, I don’t know what to say other than you need to watch more Venture Bros.
7 | Virginia | Johns Hopkins | Syracuse | RC: In another week or two, I will most likely have Hopkins higher than 7th in my poll. They did not look good at the beginning of their game against Loyola, but they made a short comeback and fought all game long after that. If you have a chance to see the highlight of their OT goal, watch it. Faking out 4 defenders is not something you see often. CW: It’s funny you say that about Hop, because I feel the same way about Cuse. Just like you know Hop is really good, I know Cuse is really good, and that they’ll probably be higher than #7. Still, something doesn’t quite sit right with me on this team, so I’m not moving them into the top 5 just yet. Is Cuse so high because of Ryan’s bias towards Syracuse? To be fair, my own bias plays in later in this poll, so we all have them. I don’t know what my bias is against Cuse. Oh wait, I don’t have one. I just honestly think they’re the 7th best team in college lacrosse right now.
8 | Yale | Yale | Johns Hopkins | RC: This was one of my more drastic moves, which I really try to avoid early on. But a five point win over Villanova was not something that made me comfortable with keeping them in my top five after seeing what their peers have been up to. Maryland is up next which is going to really show if this team is as good as I feel they can be. CW: Hop is certainly top 10 material right now, and I think they could even climb the ladder, but I also think they have some work to do on the defensive end, which is rare for Hop. What else is rare for Hop? Their offense! Listen, Hop has always had a controlling, potentially explosive O. The talent there is off the charts. But it was rarely what one would call “creative”… it was much more “measured”. Stop the presses doe, because this Hopkins O is inspired. The leash looks longer, players are buying in, and Hop is a blast to watch. Keep your eye on the Jays.
9 | Brown | Penn State | Virginia RC: Hey there, Penn State. This is a great case of why I like to see three games before really judging a team. Robert Morris and Hobart were OK wins, but very expected. High point totals in those made it feel good, too. Then they went and doubled up Cornell in the Tambroni Bowl 20-10 and I’m looking at this group very differently. They should handle Villanova well next weekend, but if they play Penn the week after anything like they did against Cornell, the B1G will be making some noise. CW: UVa is downright fun to watch again. After years of somewhat predictable slow down ball, the Hoos are now running and gunning. Lars Tiffany has had an immediate impact on the program, Zed Williams is as fun a player to watch as anyone in the college game right now, and they just play lacrosse. Look for UVa to hit some road bumps, but also to improve by leaps and bounds, as the season progresses.
10 | Penn State | Loyola | Albany | RC: This is hands down the best 0-2 team in the country and it isn’t even close. They have lost both games by a single point to teams that do nothing but bring in the best players year after year. They start their conference play next week against Lafayette. RIP Leopards. This is going to be one of those games where as a fan, you stop cheering after goals. It’s going to be bad. CW: I don’t think I’ve even ranked Albany before, but I watched their game against Syracuse and they answered a lot of questions for me. While the Danes aren’t a BIG team, they have talent, plenty of fight and scrap in them, and their goalie played some lights out lacrosse even if he was the only one wearing a grey helmet. That was weird.
11 | Loyola | Navy | Rutgers | RC: Like Loyola next week, Navy finally got to play a team that wasn’t in championship-or-bust mode already. They travelled to Delaware and beat the Blue Hens by a respectable six goals. They have Boston U up next in their first Patriot League game, and that should be a fantastic one. Last season up in Boston, this was an overtime thriller. It’s a game Navy needs, and it’s a game that will continue to validate a young BU program if they score the road upset. Watch this one if you can.. CW: I like Rutgers, but I also like The Money Pit, so you be the judge.
12 | Towson | Duke | Loyola | RC: Duke lost to Denver, which is something I completely expected to happen. The margin was actually a little bit better than I planned on, but the Blue Devils are still a little shaky to me. I probably shouldn’t even have them as my #12 to be honest, but their location is more about those around them, and those teams’ lack of resumes at the moment. CW: Loyola is having a rough start in that they are playing well against really good teams, but losing. I do see them beating teams below this point pretty consistently though, so the losses don’t hurt that much.
13 | Albany | Rutgers | Harvard | RC: Rutgers is absolutely in revenge tour mode right now. They secured a good two goal win over Army whose defense turned some heads in game one. A questionable Fairfield team us up next, with Wagner following and a great matchup with Brown in the following week. The Scarlett Knights should be sitting at 4-0 when the Bears come to town. CW: I have my eye on Harvard, but not in a good way. This team makes me nervous at #13. I think they can play up to that level (or higher), but I also think they can play down, and it gives me pause.
14 | Richmond | Virginia | Army | RC: UVA is already providing us with cause for optimism early on after two opening wins. They have a busy week this week as Siena comes to town, which should be smooth sailing for the Cavs, followed by a trip up to Penn. That one will be a much better test. Coach Lars Tiffany knows the Quakers from his Brown background, so he will not be caught off guard. I would expect UVA to win that one, but I don’t think it will be a cake walk by any means. CW: Dear Army, you are lucky I like Rutgers. 1-1 early on is fine, but the Black Knights look like a 12-25 team right now.
15 | Rutgers | Albany | Marquette | RC: My main questions about Albany were going to be how did they replace Blaze Riorden in goal, and how would their offense adapt to a different style? After seeing them play in Syracuse, I feel very comfortable about where this team is headed. JD Colarusso is not Blaze, but their defense was doing a great job early on of limiting Syracuse’s looks and making his job easier. Their offense was a little more methodical at the beginning, but eventually started doing a better job working the skip passes and finding open lanes to open up their shooters. CW: Marquette looked really solid, but how good is Jacksonville? No one knows.
16 | Marquette | Marquette | Navy | RC: In Marquette’s first game of the year, they strolled down to Florida and put a pounding on Jacksonville, 17-1. Giving up a single goal is impressive since I was very hesitant to buy into this team too much early on in the year. My main reservations were around them graduating the backbone of their team, and it was all in the defensive end. With Richmond and Ohio State next, their three game test will be a great one to really understand where they are sitting. CW: Navy is a very solid team, with most of the pieces required to do well. Their opening has been good, but not great. With a couple wins they can climb again.
17 | Navy | Army | Penn | RC: After holding UMASS to just two goals, they lost by just as many to Rutgers. I still feel good about this team going forward, and they have two games this week that will really show where they are as a team. VMI is up first, which should be a healthy win. Then they travel to Syracuse to show what they can do. CW: Good opening win. Solid start.
18 | Duke | Harvard | Penn State | RC: I really like Harvard’s chances in the Ivies this season. They have some great talent and there’s good potential there. But opening with just a five point with over UMASS-Lowell? That’s not making me feel great right now. This week they have 0-2 Holy Cross followed by 0-2 UMASS (Amherst), so those should bump them to 3-0 pretty quickly. I really want to see a pair of complete wins, otherwise there are plenty of teams knocking on the door to the top 20 that I’ll need to answer for. CW: PSU looks good, but I haven’t seen anything to convince me they are world beaters. If they keep winning games, my mind changes a lot. It’s still early.
19 | Ohio State | Richmond | Vermont | RC: After a drubbing of Fairfield in their opener, the Spiders then beat UMBC handily 10-5. They now have a two game week coming up with Mt. Saint Mary’s followed by Marquette. I had an open spot in the top 20 after dropping Nova and Air Force, so the Spiders seemed to fit in here pretty well. With a game against one of my other final five in (Marquette) this week, we’ll get a really good comparison. CW: I said that if Vermont keeps winning, they can stay, and so far they have, so I kept them. Also, I’m biased towards the Catamounts as both my parents went there, and so did my aunt and uncle. My uncle was even the mascot for the hockey team. We love UVM! How real is that? No one admits their bias, except this guy.
20 | Penn | Vermont | Ohio State | RC: The darlings of opening weekend followed that up with a good six point win over Holy Cross. While I have several other teams that deservedly could argue to be in this spot like Ohio State, Marist, BU, and others, I like where the Catamounts are right now and look forward to changing my mind in a week. Seeing how they handle Providence this week will actually be a great show for the Friars as well as a comparison by proxy with BU. CW: I’m rubbing off on Conwell and making him vote for Vermont. Just kidding, it was only peer pressure, I didn’t make him do it. Also, OSU is looking like I’ve always thought they should look, which is rock solid.
Ryan’s Others: I’m still watching Marist, Ohio State, Providence, Bucknell, Vermont, Air Force, and BU.
Connor’s Others: BU and Towson are well worth remembering. Marist’s wins is interesting, and I fell like Air Force and Duke could surge again, but have so far fallen kind of flat. There are many others out there. It’s early, and very open.
Media Poll Others: Marist, Air Force, BU, Harvard, Michigan, Army, Vermont, Providence, Cornell