I did some personal polling analysis tonight. Overreaction to results -- especially at this stage of the season -- is dangerous: Teams are still trying to determine their identity. Knowns -- or at least accepted knowns -- are out there, but there are a ton of unknowns that are currently surrounding Division I.
From the preseason to this ballot I have ranked 15 teams on every single ballot; eight teams -- Hofstra, Fairfield, Colgate, Bryant, Massachusetts, Drexel, St. John's, and Lehigh -- have, at various points in the last four weeks, found a position in my ballot. Of the 15 teams that have appeared on every one of my ballots, the average standard deviation of their movement has been about 1.6 positions. I can accept -- and actually want -- that level of consistency; there's no reason, at the start of March, to take big swings at the rankings of teams. Four teams, however, have experienced ranking deviations of greater than 4.5: Maryland, Loyola, Syracuse, and Princeton. The former two have experienced significant climb since my preseason ballot, reasonably rising given each teams' performances through the early portion of the season. The latter two have experienced a notable drop given their early season performances.
I comfortable with all of this as there hasn't been seismic changes through the season's early offerings that necessarily requires more imposing rankings movements. The teams that have expressed themselves as worthy of big movements have received related changes; the rest is simply moving in small steps until something dramatic happens and carries forward in some tangible fashion.
In the interest of transparency, here's how I voted in the Inside Lacrosse media poll this week. Some brief explanations follow the ballot.
- New this week: Fairfield and Bryant. Dropped out this week: Drexel and St. John's. The final four positions in the ballot were difficult to determine. I considered the four included teams and also gave consideration to Lehigh, Harvard, St. John's, Army, and Drexel (in no particular order). All of these teams are flawed in their own way, and I understand the difficulty in making value determinations with each of these programs. There's inherent fluidity in that portion of the ballot, recognizing the balance between the back of the top third of the nation and the meaty middle of the country.
- Loyola: Started 16th on my preseason ballot and are now number two. I'm not sure there's a team in the nation playing better ball than the Greyhounds right now. The 'Hounds haven't breached their ceiling, which is the especially interesting aspect of Loyola's play at the moment.
- Massachusetts had its teeth kicked in against Albany, but I couldn't drop the Minutemen out. Massachusetts has a decent resume outside of the horrific effort against the Great Danes, and I'm willing to exercise some patience with the Minutemen at this point.
- Notre Dame took the biggest fall in this ballot, but that's likely attributable to me having the Irish far too high last week. There's some course correction in Notre Dame's placement.
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.