The new media and coaches polls are out and Maryland remains atop both tallies, looking down at the rest of Division I lacrosse with a smirk while it chows down on a giant turkey leg. (Kings still eat stereotypical giant turkey legs while sitting on thrones, right? Good.) Cornell managed to grab a first-place vote in the coaches poll -- shine on, you crazy diamond -- but otherwise the Terrapins are a virtually unanimous selection as the best team in the country right now.
We're kind of approaching the point where math rankings are starting to become valuable. Looking over the data I think we're still about a week or so away from the math polls finding suitable stability, but I decided to include them in the aggregation this weekend for a simple reason: They do a really nice job of showing just how little we know about a majority of Division I teams. The underlying data set needs more information for things to start to focus, and we're just not at that point yet. So, if you think that the human polls have been volatile, just look at what the math polls are doing.
The below aggregation considers every team slotted in the top 20 of at least one set of rankings. Again, don't freak out about the computer-type rankings at this point; it's still early, but they shouldn't be ignored as tools. 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 March 11, 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.
- Cornell and Maryland are heads and shoulders above the rest of the nation, and it's not even close. I don't know how things would shake out if the Terps and Red met today -- probably something awesome would happen, but in terms of guessing the score outcome, I'm still blissfully ignorant -- but these two teams have done the most impressive job of establishing themselves so far this season.
- I was asked this weekend what I thought about Johns Hopkins. My response: "I don't know. I'm waiting until Saturday when the Jays go to the Dome to make a decision." What I didn't let on was that a lot of my questions about Hopkins is that their math rankings (excluding RPI) are about five positions worse than their human rankings. Does the math have it right? Are the humans the actual geniuses? I don't know the answer to that; if I did I could, once and for all, end any thoughts the robots may have of revolting against the human race. The biggest takeaway here is that if you think you have a solid read on the Jays, you may be lying to yourself..
- The machines say that the humans are underrating Brown. I'm not sure that's true -- Bruno has only played four games, and they need a game or two more under their belts for the calculations to not have a lot of noise in them -- but I'll say this: If the Bears are truly in the vicinity of where the computer rankings have them, the race in the Ivy League this season is going to be bonkers with Brown, Cornell, Princeton, Pennsylvania, and Yale. Regardless, Brown needs to show me some stronger wins against better opponents for me to believe what calculators are telling me.
- As for Lehigh and Penn State, they're kind of in the same boat. For me, I'm willing to give teams loaded with talent that have bullets in the magazine (not to mention solid coaching) the benefit of the doubt in early March in terms of poll positioning. However, the computers have basically spit out an "Icky!" response for both despite what the humans are doing.
What do you guys think about this? Okay or no-kay? The comments, they are yours.