Outside of putting Maryland, Cornell, and Denver at the top, I really struggled with putting together a reasonable 20-team media poll ballot for this week. I started working on it at halftime of Stony Brook-Maryland game, thinking I'd have the thing done by the end of the game. All of a sudden it was 5:00 P.M., I still hadn't eaten, and I had made zero decent progress, slotting only six additional teams.
So, yeah. An insane week topped off with an even crazier weekend made things a little difficult. Once again, I'm moving away from preseason expectations to the cold reality of the season, utilizing data where applicable (it's still about a week too early to really trust what advanced statistics are showing) and my eyeballs in the overall. As always, some pertinent explanations follow my ballot.
|4.||Notre Dame||-2||14.||Ohio State||-1|
|10.||Penn State||-1||20.||St. John's||-1|
- New this week: Bucknell and Yale. Dropped out this week: Fairfield and Massachusetts. Losing to Albany and Bucknell aren't bad things, but it's the way that the Minutemen played in both games that forced me to move them from 12th to the cold reaches of space. Fairfield just hasn't impressed me since they scared the piss out of North Carolina; the data backs up that position on the Stags. Yale finds inclusion this week because I've been an idiot about the Bulldogs this season; please forgive me, Elis. As for Bucknell, the record isn't fantastic but the Bison have been playing well and probably deserve recognition for how they're showing in the tempo-free data.
- I wanted to move Loyola even lower in my ballot, but I didn't have the heart to do it. Look: The Greyhounds simply haven't played top 10 lacrosse this season (on the year, Loyola is currently ranked 16th in adjusted efficiency margin), but they still have a top 10 roster. This is probably stubbornness on my part, but I at least recognize that I'm potentially overrating the 'Hounds at the moment. The problem, of course, is that Loyola has three very winnable games ahead of them -- Air Force, Georgetown, and Michigan -- and I'm going to keep having this issue with the Greyhounds unless they start becoming more productive on the field. In the end I should've just grown a pair and dropped them, but I'm just too much of a pansy to do it right now.
- Do not be surprised if you see Cornell get first-place votes tomorrow. The Red are currently number one in adjusted efficiency margin -- about two goals better than Maryland on a 100-possession basis -- and Cornell is legitimate (even if folks are pointing at Cornell's schedule and saying, "LOOKIT!"). Nobody, however, has been more impressive than the Terrapins this season. This is where the data is a guide but not canon -- at the end of the day it's only a tool, and your eyeballs need to ultimately drive the decision your brain makes.
- The big move for Hofstra this week is due in part to the Pride beating Notre Dame out in South Bend and in part because I had the Pride ranked way too low last week. It's a layered increase for the Pride, and I'm feeling strong human emotions about what Hofstra is capable of accomplishing this season. The Pride's profile is actually around top 10 quality, but I exercised some patience in moving them into that cohort.
- My explanation for Colgate and St. John's hanging around the back-end of my ballot instead of putting in new blood like Providence (if this wasn't 2013, you'd probably do a spit take at your screen reading that someone considered ranking the Friars; good on you, Chris Gabrielli) or Brown (Rhode Island is a weird place, man) is as follows: I can do what I want; you're not the boss of me! (Also: I really liked what I saw out of the Johnnies this weekend and I'm not willing to throw a team with a Tewaaraton winner out of the window just yet).
I'm always willing to hear what you guys think. Have something to add or want to call me a moron in a few sentences? The comments are your launching pad.