Syracuse is still #1? Perhaps only in my mind… Welcome to my weekly installment of “Is This Lacrosse Poll Serious?” Each week, I share my votes for the IL/Cascade Media Poll each week, and WHY I placed the teams where I placed them. This week I did something no one else was doing, as I said Syracuse is still #1!
Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan
Syracuse Is Still #1? Am I Serious?
1) Syracuse – How can I put Syracuse back at #1 after they lost to Notre Dame in a head to head match up? Well, it’s actually pretty simple! Cuse has one loss to Notre Dame. Notre Dame has one loss to Denver. Both losses for both teams were in OT. Cuse lost to a higher ranked and regarded team in Notre Dame, so their one loss is better than ND’s. Notre Dame has 4 top 20 wins and Cuse has 5. I can see how Notre Dame is the new #1, but in my book, Cuse is still the best team in the country. Go ahead, ARGUE with me! Did any other pollsters go #1 for Cuse? Nope. Do I know something they don’t?
2) Notre Dame – I could have put ND at #1… that would have been the easy mindless choice for sure. But I’m not ranking teams on how they did LAST week… I’m ranking teams based on their season, as it stands right now, and how good I think they are based on performance. Notre Dame is a clear cut #2 for me, but I still think Syracuse has a more impressive overall resume. Sorry, but I’m not sorry! Play this game again and I’m taking Syracuse, so they are my #1. Call me crazy, I just might be.
3) Maryland – I wasn’t all that impressed by Maryland early on, but their season has proved me wrong so far, so they are in my top 3, as they deserve to be. They haven’t played enough Top 20 teams to be in the #1 spot (and that loss to Yale still brings up questions) but the Terps are legit and an easy Top 5 pick.
4) UNC – Maryland’s head to head win puts them on top of UNC for now, but both teams are a notch or two below Cuse and ND because of fewer Top 20 games. Maryland plays a solid end of their schedule, but UNC plays a truly tough run of games to finish their season. If the Tar Heels win out, they could jump over all 3 teams currently above them in the poll. Beating ND and Cuse would go a long way towards a new #1 team! Only thing I want to see is MORE goals. Score 30. Do it.
5) Brown – Last week I bumped Brown down a bit, and regretted it immediately. Sure, that loss to Bucknell was suspect, and their 16-15 OT win over Marist gave me pause, but a solid win over Princeton got me back to the “a win is a win” attitude with the Bears. If I am ranking one team highly based on very little right now, it’s Brown. That being said, when Molloy has a big day, they can beat anyone.
6) Denver – Denver had me doubting them, but then they went out and won 3 solid games, finishing up with a big win over upstart Georgetown, 19-7. Face offs don’t seem to be an issue as much now, the offense is settling in, and defensive play has improved. The Pioneers could be this year’s Duke where they are much better at the end of the year than at the beginning. Denver has some trap games, but needs to win out to stay high in the polls.
7) Duke – Duke has lost two games in a row, but I have both of those teams ranked above Duke by a solid margin, so I’m not moving the Blue Devils down for the losses. It’s hard when Duke is 2-3 in Top 20 games, but their overall record of 7-3 is solid enough for now. If they want to stay this high, they need to beat Notre Dame or Virginia, and win the rest of their regular season games. Sometimes Duke looks world class, but at other times, they seem to have huge holes. History tells us we’ll see more of the former by May.
8) Cornell – Cornell has been battling as of late, but they’ve also been winning, so they stay in the Top 10 for another week. Harvard, Hofstra, Brown, and Princeton all loom large on the schedule for the Big Red. If they win out, they climb for sure. If they drop a game or two, they could be ok. Drop two+ games and Cornell is falling fast.
9) Virginia – If you read a story about Virginia, most writers would say this team is in trouble as key player after key player seems to be dropped off the roster or injured, but they keep winning, and own an 8-2 record right now. With their only losses coming to #1 and #2, the Cavs could be much higher in the poll, and if they happen to win out, they will probably be a top 5 team by season’s end. UNC, Duke, and Georgetown… that’s one heck of a way to end the season!
10) Albany – Albany has scored 21 goals or more in their last four games, so while it took the Danes a little time to get that offensive chemistry back, it seems to be back in full force. Against a good opponent like Harvard, the Danes are still giving up a lot of goals, but against lesser programs, their defense is rising to the occasion. If the D continues to improve, and the O continues to pour in goals, Albany can play with anyone, and any game they play in should be a thriller!
11) Army – I’m still a Black Knight believer. Their record is solid, but not great, and their offense is a little too inconsistent for my tastes. They are definitely just outside the Top 10, but a potential dark horse contender. BU, Navy, and Colgate are all good tests and must win games. Notre Dame to end the season is a great opportunity to prove that Army belongs in the conversation… Or that they don’t. WHY ISN’T THAT GAME TOMORROW? I need to know now!
12) Yale – Dropping two games in a row shook my confidence in Yale, but a good 15-7 win over a methodical Penn team showed me that Yale is still a very good team, with good pieces in all the right places. My biggest concern is depth and role players making big plays. If you’re not loaded with Blue Chippers, you can need this later in the year, and I’m not sure I’ve seen enough of it from Yale overall. That early Maryland win just looks better and better though! What would happen if the two played again?
13) Georgetown – 13 seems like a great spot for Georgetown. This program was supposed to be good for years, but they really weren’t. Then everyone doubts them, Kevin Warne steps in as the new coach, and the program turns itself around in only a couple seasons. This is a top 20 team for sure right now, but they need to beat Providence, Villanova, and St. John’s to stay there. A win over Virginia could push the Hoyas into the Top 10 for the first time in a long while.
14) Princeton – I’m going to come right out and say it: the Princeton – Brown game was WAY too boring. It seemed slow, disjointed, and not that fun to watch. That doesn’t mean either team is good or bad, but it does tell me that both of these squads have another gear they aren’t tapping into just yet. If the Tigers win out they finish 11-2. If they drop the season closer to Cornell they would be 10-3, and still in the Top 20. Lose another game and who knows!
15) Marquette – We are finally getting to the meat of the Golden Eagles’ schedule and it’s exciting! Duke, Denver, and Notre Dame all loom large for Marquette this year, and they have 3 more games on top of that. At 8-1, they look great right now, but need a big win to turn more people into believers. They can not lose to Bellarmine, St. John’s, or Providence. I mean, they CAN lose to those teams, but they really can’t. You know what I mean.
16) Fairfield – I like 3 of the last four games for Fairfield, and while they have no Top 20 wins, I’m going to take a HUGE risk with this squad and put them at #16. Hopefully, it makes me look like a genius, so come on you Stags! All four of their losses are by one goal. Every team they have lost to has been in the Top 20 at some point… wait, why did I rank them again? Oh right, because I THINK they will be good for the rest of the way. Win out and I look good. Drop even one game and they are out… and I look like the fool I probably am!
17) Ohio State – I’m still having a hard time getting over just how terrible OSU’s offense looked against Notre Dame. There was no movement, no cutting, no hustle. It was absolutely terrible. But at the same time, OSU does have a BIG win, an 8-3 record, and 3 more very winnable games left on their schedule. They also play Maryland. Get it? The biggest game they really NEED to win is against Hopkins. Hopkins also needs that win. Right now I have my money on Hopkins, but that needs to happen before I can rank Hop again.
18) Navy – Teams in the 15-20 spots at this point in the season are tough to place. Do I reward them for early big wins or latter consistency? Do they have big losses? What about surprisingly tight games? Navy hast most of the above, and it makes it very hard to place them. Last week I dropped them out, this week they come back in. Next week? Beat Loyola and you’re still in! Lose to Loyola and the Hounds are back in and Navy drops. Or not. At this point it’s too hard to tell.
19) Bucknell – Hey Bucknell, what gives? You want to beat Brown and then lose to BU and then get dominated by Army? Are you trying to make my job harder? Other than the Army game, Bucknell competes with everyone, and I like that in a lower tier top 20 team. I’ll buy the Bison for now.
20) Stony Brook – Stony Brook is 7-2, and if they had beaten Albany (they lost 17-15), I would bet some people would put them as a top 15 team. So I’m ranking them as my 20 team. I like to take risks here, and Stony Brook is still unproven at this late point, so they are a risk. They still have 7 games left, and two of those are against Princeton and Duke. That’s a lot of work left to do. Time to shine, Sea Wolves!