The new media and coaches polls are out and everything is floating in space, adrift in the nothingness of the cold, dark reaches of the universe. This week's media poll features four teams -- Notre Dame (15), Maryland (two), North Carolina (three), and Cornell (one) -- receiving first-place votes; the coaches poll is a little less unstable at the top of the tally with two teams -- North Carolina (six) and Notre Dame (three) -- earning top honors on the nine ballots that were submitted.
Based on these results, I can only come to one reasonable conclusion: Nobody knows anything.
The below aggregation considers every team slotted in the top 20 of at least one set of rankings. Some brief thoughts follow the table.
LAXPOWER: These are the LaxPower ratings. These ratings are based on solid math, importantly considering margin of victory.
RPI: This is stupid person math. I include these rankings only because the NCAA is full of stupid people and they still use this stupid person math as a major piece of their stupid tournament selection criteria. I've included these rankings this week because I am, apparently, as stupid as everyone and everything else.
EFFICIENCY: This is just a ranking of a team's efficiency margin, as adjusted for strength of schedule. These are similar to Ken Pomeroy's rankings, but slightly different. (Pomeroy uses win expectation as the basis of his ratings. We each, however, use the same foundation (efficiency).)
AVG.: Average of the "math" rankings.
COACHES/MEDIA: These are the human polls, as voted on by humans. These humans have different jobs, though: One set judges humans while clad in university-issued apparel; the other set of humans judges others simply to sell ink and paper. These polls are from April 22, 2013.
AVG.: This is the average the Earth-human polls.
DIFF.: The difference between the "math" polls and the human polls. A negative value means that "math" is rating a team higher than the things that are carbon-based; the inverse means that the things made out of 75% water are rating a team higher than the things not made out of any water.
AVG.: Average of the math and human polls. This is how the table is ordered.
- Upwardly Mobile: Army. To the Slums: Syracuse. There wasn't a ton of movement in the aggregated rankings this week, but the Black Knights (along with the Cavaliers, but Virginia did not receive any votes in the media poll this week) was the biggest mover up the rankings with its 2.40 spot climb. Army is existing in a weird position in the overall, showing well in efficiency measures and only just breaking through the coaches top 20. The Black Knights' draw in the Patriot League Tournament this week is a tough one (Bucknell), but Army may have the capability to knock off the Bison in Bethlehem and announce its May presence. If Army can win that game and knock off Johns Hopkins at the end of the season (regardless of what would happen in the Patriot League title game), the Black Knights would become an interesting discussion point for NCAA Tournament consideration. As for Syracuse, the punishment was harsh for losing to Hobart and slipping past Georgetown but, in the overall, was squarely fair. The Orange look better in the human-based polls than computer-type rankings, but in terms of overall drop (the largest on the board this week), Syracuse is situated appropriately.
- The Quakers are still riding with the biggest difference between their machine-driven rankings and their carbon-based polling position. Both LaxPower and the efficiency measure still like Pennsylvania as a top 10-type team, and if we pull out the cockamamie RPI ranking for the Quakers, the difference between the two mathematical rankings and the human slottings create about a seven position difference. The Quakers remain a solid club despite their current rankings in the media and coaches polls, and Pennsylvania should be considered armed and dangerous as the Ivy League Tournament approaches (if the Quakers get in).
- With respect to other teams that are arguably being undervalued in the human-based polls, two teams stick out: (1) Cornell remains in the hunt for the national championship and the Red are as strong as any combination of Notre Dame, Carolina, Maryland, Denver and Duke; and (2) Hofstra is in a nasty slide, losing five of its last seven games (adequate grounds to jettison the Pride from the media and coaches polls), but the Pride are still showing well in math-based rankings and are lurking as a potential THUNDERDOME! menace if Hofstra can squeeze its way into that conference tournament. These are different teams that are potentially being overlooked for different reasons, but each may have a little more juice than voters-with-thumbs are currently giving each program.
- As usual, the tiering of teams is interesting: There are five teams -- North Carolina, Maryland, Cornell, Notre Dame, and Denver -- squished within two polling spots at the top of the aggregation; there are four teams -- Loyola, Duke, Syracuse, and Penn State -- smashed together within three polling positions; there are eight teams -- Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Albany, Bucknell, Yale, Lehigh, Pennsylvania, and Ohio State -- within four positions of each other (what?!); and the back end of the tally remains a mine field filled with teams with various maladies. This is the essence of the 2013 college lacrosse season and why the next two weeks are going to be bonkers.
- Yes, humans with emotions and stuff probably overreacted with respect to Fairfield. I was somewhat shocked this morning to see the Stags hanging around the back end of both the coaches and media polls. This is why I'm slow to move on ranking teams -- the Stags may be finding their way, but patience probably should have been exercised relative to Fairfield's place in college lacrosse's hierarchy at the moment.
What do you guys think about this? Okay or no-kay? The comments, they are yours.