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2013 College Lacrosse Preview: College Crosse's Preseason Rankings

20 teams, one ballot. Where's your favorite team slotted?

Winslow Townson

It's getting to be about that time, pals and gal pals. The college lacrosse season is just 10 days away, and with it comes everyone's favorite reason for slinging bile on their Internet computing machines: polls. After a few seasons of picking apart the Inside Lacrosse media poll, I've been asked to contribute a ballot to it this season because, I am to assume, the poll needed more adorableness and I have that in excess. (Please note: This assumption is likely not grounded in any form of reality, either the one I choose to accept or the reality that is founded on universal fact and truth.) As a firm believer in transparency, I'll post my rankings for each ballot cycle throughout the year so that everyone can see just how stupid I really am or how intelligent I may be (dependent, of course, on where your favored team ends up in my run). Also, so you understand my process behind ranking teams for the media poll, here are some notes on how I plan to put together my vote each and every week:

  • My ballot is not intended to be predictive. Rather, it's a snapshot of where I think teams fall in terms of power/strength/ability/competitiveness/Gatorade-bath-potential at the time of balloting. Basically, I'm determining which teams are the best for that particular week, not which teams could be the best in May or which teams were the best in prior ballots. This may or may not cause volatility on my ballot, and I'm comfortable with that.
  • I don't ascribe to the idea of "You win, you automatically move up; you lose, you automatically move down." Wins and losses are important to ranking teams (no doink), but getting into a rigid win-ascend, lose-descend habit creates three problems: 1) The transitive property never works out well after a few weeks anyway, and I don't want that issue existing in my universe; 2) It somewhat ignores the subtler aspects of what is taking place on the field, both in production, quality of play, and overall performance; and 3) Wins and losses can be deceiving. So, if North Carolina beats Johns Hopkins, I may not necessarily move the Heels ahead of the Jays and, depending on the circumstances, may not move one team or the other all that far from where they were previously ranked (if at all). This is going to cause you pain, I'm sure; I do not care.
  • I am going to utilize advanced statistics in ranking teams, but they will only be used as a tool. Statistics never tell the entire story (and it's stupid to believe so), and to submit a human ballot that ignores what eyeballs see is a special kind of stupid.
  • I am going to take this seriously, and I'm not looking to do something controversial just to do something controversial. (Eat fire, Skip Bayless.) How and where I rank a team is honestly what I believe, and I'll do my best to explain my decision in each piece that features my ballot. If you ever have questions or comments about my ballot, please let me know. I'd be happy to give you an explanation, and if I'm wrong, I'll change my voting posture.

With those declarations of intent (soon to be ignored) out of the way, let's get to the important stuff: College's Crosse preseason top 20. The constitution of the rankings features almost every team from this site's pre-fall top 20, excluding only Yale and including only Bryant. Even the positioning from the fall is similar for these teams, which either means that I'm curmudgeonly stubborn or prescient. Here's how things shook out:

College Crosse's Preseason Top-20
1. Loyola 11. Virginia
2. Duke 12. Syracuse
3. Maryland 13. Massachusetts
4. Notre Dame 14. Princeton
5. Johns Hopkins 15. Penn State
6. Cornell 16. St. John's
7. Lehigh 17. Bryant
8. North Carolina 18. Bucknell
9. Colgate 19. Ohio State
10. Denver 20. Hofstra

Some notes:

  • The only other teams that I seriously considered ranking for the preseason (in no particular order): Fairfield, Yale, and Drexel. I think all three are in the mix for the back-end of the tally and could force their way through in the first couple of weeks of the season depending on how things play out. For now, I feel comfortable leaving them out and going with what's already been submitted.
  • Ranking teams 16 through 20 was like cleaning a Keurig machine. These teams are relatively interchangeable in my mind, with flaws that preclude any kind of comfort in their current poll positions. That's definitely the mess in all this -- and why there are three additional teams that I considered ranking -- but the potential of those five teams (both on prior year results and current year possibilities) put them on the ballot in tightly-clumped positions.
  • The teams ranked six through 10 are similarly fungible, and if there was an option to squeeze these teams together as "Not top five but better than 11," I'd have done that. This shouldn't be a freak out situation for anyone; I wouldn't attack any minor shifting in that particular grouping.
  • The biggest movers from College Crosse's pre-fall rankings and today were Bryant and Yale, with Bryant moving into the Elis' position and Yale moving into Bryant's "not quite top 20" spot. I may regret this, but thinking more about what Yale is entering the season with and what Bryant has, I eventually made the switch. I just like Mason Poli, Colin Dunster, Glenn Maiorano, and Mike Pressler's coaching too much. A team needed to fall, and it was Yale (which is attempting to navigate the waters without Matt Gibson and Deron Dempster). Outside of those two schools, Cornell and St. John's each moved up three spots and North Carolina and Ohio State moved down three spots. I'm cooling a bit on the Buckeyes -- they still look like Division I's ultimate wild card to me -- and liking Cornell more and more each day (even though the Red having opened spring practice yet). You can poke me with a stick if I whiffed on Yale.
  • Number of teams per league in the above: ACC (four); ECAC (three); Big East (three); Patriot (three); THUNDERDOME! (three); Ivy League (two); Independent (one); and NEC (one). I like the balance there, which is indicative of where college lacrosse is on a competitive basis in 2013.
  • Average poll position per league in the above: ACC (6.25); ECAC and Ivy (10.00); Big East (10.67); Patriot (11.00); THUNDERDOME! (16.00); NEC (17.00). I wouldn't read too deeply into that, college boy.

The comments are yours if you have anything to add.