These pieces are usually more substantial, but as everyone is still kind of idling in the driveway, it's really hard to make internal combustion when you're just holding a can of gasoline and a bucket of screws. So, you get what you get at this point.
The media and coaches polls are out and there is a bit of a surprise: Maryland, after throttling The Mount and Hartford this week, has moved into the top spot in the USILA poll over the preseason favorite -- Loyola. The Terps' poll margin over the Greyhounds is razor thin -- just two points and one first-place vote -- but does acknowledge that folks didn't miss the fist fight that Loyola got into against Delaware, needing a score with four seconds remaining in regulation to drop the Blue Hens. The 'Hounds, however, still hold a comfortable lead in the media poll, taking home 65 percent of the available first-place votes.
11 teams have yet to play a regular season game at this point, so there is little reason to pop a spring in your brain, knock over a liquor store in a rage-induced coma, and sit in the clink all because you think it's unfair that a few teams took some nasty tumbles from the preseason ballot to today's release. Of course, if you want to do that, I'm all for getting your name in the newspaper.
Below is an aggregation of both the coaches and media polls (featuring, oddly, the same 20 teams in somewhat different places). I'm holding off on featuring computer-type rankings until we get a little deeper into the season. If you'd like to see how I voted this week, click this fancily-highlighted text on your Internet computing machine.
- Look: Albany changed some of my feelings about the Great Danes with their double overtime defeat of Syracuse on Sunday, but I'm not sure that slipping past a Syracuse team that is ripe with issues is necessarily resume material for a top 20 ranking. How Albany performs against Drexel this coming weekend will help determine whether the Danes are truly among the top third of the nation, but seeing Albany slide into both tallies (toward the top 15, no less) on the strength of a Syracuse win that may or may not be notable three weeks from now is a little aggressive.
- Lehigh may be a little underrated at this point. The Mountain Hawks thrashed St. Joseph's to open the year (which means little), but followed that up with a solid win against Villanova this past weekend. They are a team to watch in the next few weeks and probably should rise a bit if they maintain their level of play.
- Syracuse, Carolina, and Duke are deserved tumblers in both polls, if only because there are all sorts of questions surrounding those teams right now. Their poll positions will remain volatile for a while -- the big names almost always have the most significant movement (forward and back) in the early season -- and I'm generally okay with that fact. Let's be clear about this, though: It's February; these teams have top 10 potential (to various degrees) and where they are ranked now has little bearing on each team's ceiling. These teams are being judged on a limited volume of play at this point and there is going to be a shade of overreaction.
- You can see some tiering in the rankings. Maryland, Loyola, Notre Dame, and Johns Hopkins are bunched together; Massachusetts, Virginia, Cornell (which hasn't played yet), and Penn State occupy similar space; Colgate, Lehigh, North Carolina, and Denver are in the next bunch; and then there's some messiness the rest of the way with a big grouping of schools broken into minor sub-tierings. I think at this point it's more important to focus on where teams are placed into tiers than specific rankings. That's just a thought, though; you can build your life's purpose around it if you'd like.
- Conference breakdown: ACC (four); ECAC (four); Big East (two); Independent (one); THUNDERDOME! (three); Ivy (three); Patriot (two); and America East (one).
What do you guys think about this? Okay or no-kay? The comments, they are yours.