There isn't a result that doesn't matter; all these results, however, matter differently. For example, take Drexel's week -- they hammered St. Joseph's and snuck past Delaware (a team with a fantastic ability to ruin things for themselves) since the last balloting period. Is that a resume -- based on both games -- that requires an adjustment based both on those particular outcomes and on the results of the four teams ahead of them (Hopkins: lost in overtime to North Carolina; Pennsylvania: lost in overtime to Yale; Duke: beat Harvard; and Lehigh: beat Navy)? That's where we are in the season -- it's comparing performance and results to other performances and results that may be decidedly exclusive from each other. It's a mess out there, and I think that everyone is just looking to survive.
Here's what I'm submitting this week. As always, some brief notes accompany the ballot so that you can understand why I did what I did.
- New this week: Albany and Penn State. Dropped out this week: Brown and Colgate. It's time for the Nittany Lions to return to the ballot; Penn State had a pretty good argument to be included last week, but the team's hammering of Bucknell during the week cemented the return of Jeff Tambroni and his mercenaries. I was on the fence whether to add Albany or Bellarmine to the last spot in the run; both teams have decent cases and are full of warts, but I ended up giving the nod to the Great Danes mostly because the Thompson Trio has been smooth jazz all season. The Knights are close (and if Albany loses to Johns Hopkins this coming week, Bellarmine could slip into the run next week), but Albany just has a little more happy fun times surrounding them at the moment. As for Brown and Colgate? The Raiders are locked in a dark closet until something amazing happens and the Bears need to smack someone of note before they slide back into the ballot.
- It was hard to punishing Johns Hopkins and Pennsylvania when: (1) These teams lost bythismuch; and (2) Teams behind these two schools haven't especially distinguished themselves. Ranking schools from 10-15 was basically a case study in Dante's Inferno, and trying to maintain some reasonability in slotting schools in that tier was nearly impossible. Both the Jays' and Quakers' schedules will even out any inaccuracies at this point, so I'm not too worried that I may have each team a shade too high at the moment.
- Is Duke truly the ninth-strongest team in the country right now? It's debatable. If the Devils had gone into Cambridge and stomped on Harvard's head, I wouldn't be concerned about Duke's ranking. The way I ended up reconciling the Devils' ranking was as follows: Duke did go to Harvard and win, and there really isn't a team around the Devils in this ballot that is decidedly stronger or weaker than Duke at the moment. So, the Blue Devils earn a big move despite an uneven effort on Saturday. This is probably a "Deal with it!" situation, and I'm willing to accept that for the moment.
- Just as I delayed on significantly raising the Bison I'm going to delay on heavily dropping Bucknell. The beating that Penn State put on the Herd was impressive, but that doesn't necessarily mean that Bucknell had suddenly become a bag of ass. A team doesn't win seven straight on accident; that shouldn't be forgotten based on an isolated result.
- Hello, St. John's! The Red Storm are the beneficiary of beating pseudo-number-one and teams in front of them either losing or registering wins against competition best described as "meh." The Johnnies are going to be a candidate for course correction next week, and I'm comfortable with that at the moment. This is mostly a nod to the type of lacrosse the Red Storm have been playing lately and not necessarily indicia that there are only 10 teams in the country better than St. John's right now.
- It was tough moving Drexel up on a spot and I would have liked to have raised the Dragons' positioning a little more, but the fact that Drexel continues to act invincible and put together these nonsensical fourth quarter comebacks forces me to keep them fairly static. There's going to come a point where I just throw my computer into the trash and send in a hand-written letter that says, "DREXEL NO. 1; EVERYONE ELSE RANKED 21ST" but this week isn't that week. The Dragons are due for a move and a date with Penn State this coming week may be the defining moment for that to happen. I think Drexel will appear somewhat higher than where I have them in the media poll on Monday based on the team's two wins this week, but I'm just not ready to significantly lift a team that lives right on the edge. It was the most difficult decision to make this week, and I ended up exercising patience -- the patience that everybody seems to hate -- so that I didn't make a decision that I'd regret.
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.