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Acrosse the College Lacrosse Polls: March 25, 2013

Aggregating NCAA lacrosse rankings like a mother.

Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

The new media and coaches polls are out and, as expected, there are bits of exploded skull all over the place. Notre Dame sits atop both human polls at the moment but voters are far from convinced that the Irish are a tank and the rest of college lacrosse is just stuff being targeted by Notre Dame's giant cannon: Maryland (seven) and Cornell (three) also received first-place votes in the media tally; Maryland (one), North Carolina (one), and Bucknell (one) received first-place votes in the coaches poll. So, the Irish are your number one this week, but we're pretty far from everyone throwing rose petals at Notre Dame's feet and begging for a benevolent reign from Division I's newest king.

The below aggregation considers every team slotted in the top 20 of at least one set of rankings. Some brief thoughts follow the table.

Cornell 2 2 1 1.67 3 3 3.00 -1.33 2.20
Notre Dame 4 1 6 3.67 1 1 1.00 2.67 2.60
Maryland 1 5 4 3.33 2 2 2.00 1.33 2.80
Denver 6 3 2 3.67 4 4 4.00 -0.33 3.80
North Carolina 9 6 7 7.33 6 7 6.50 0.83 7.00
Bucknell 8 11 8 9.00 7 6 6.50 2.50 8.00
Princeton 3 10 12 8.33 10 8 9.00 -0.67 8.60
Syracuse 13 9 5 9.00 9 9 9.00 0.00 9.00
Loyola 10 17 11 12.67 5 5 5.00 7.67 9.60
Pennsylvania 11 4 10 8.33 13 11 12.00 -3.67 9.80
Duke 17 7 9 11.00 10 12 11.00 0.00 11.00
Johns Hopkins 7 22 17 15.33 8 10 9.00 6.33 12.80
Ohio State 16 8 18 14.00 12 13 112.50 1.50 13.40
Brown 12 18 3 11.00 19 20 19.50 -8.50 14.40
Hofstra 14 15 13 14.00 15 16 15.50 -1.50 14.60
Penn State 15 14 24 17.67 16 17 16.50 1.17 17.20
Yale 5 19 20 14.67 23 21 22.00 -7.33 17.60
Drexel 23 13 26 20.67 14 14 14.00 6.67 18.00
St. John's 22 16 14 17.33 20 19 19.50 -2.17 18.20
Virginia 20 20 22 20.67 17 15 16.00 4.67 18.80
Lehigh 21 24 15 20.00 18 18 18.00 2.00 19.20
Massachusetts 18 12 25 18.33 22 22 22.00 -3.67 19.80
Colgate 19 25 23 22.33 21 23 22.00 0.33 22.20
Bellarmine 26 27 16 23.00 24 27 25.50 -2.50 24.00
Army 31 47 19 32.33 27 28 27.50 4.83 30.40

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 25, 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.

Some thoughts:

  • Upwardly Mobile: North Carolina. To the Slums: Hofstra. Both the Tar Heels' and Pride's significant movements this week -- Carolina rising and aggregate of 7.80 positions and Hofstra sliding 7.20 positions -- makes sense: The Heels knocked off, in fine form, what appeared to be a super team in Maryland at Byrd Stadium and the Pride suffered through a two-loss week that included heartbreakers to St. John's and an invincible Drexel team. What's notable about these movements is that the polls composed by carbon-based things and the computer things that will one day rule us all each moved these teams fairly similarly: There are only small differences between where math rankings and human rankings are slotting each school. This is exciting stuff, people; I recommend re-reading this note without pants.
  • The bunching throughout the aggregated rankings is all you need to know about what Division I lacrosse has been this season. Four teams -- Cornell, Notre Dame, Maryland, and Denver -- are all within two positions of each other; North Carolina, Bucknell, Princeton, Syracuse, Loyola, and Pennsylvania are all clumped together in the next tier; the third grouping features Duke, Johns Hopkins, Ohio State, Brown, and Hofstra; and then there's a glorious mess in the last true tier of teams, keeping Penn State, Yale, Drexel, St. John's, Virginia, Lehigh, Massachusetts, Colgate, and Bellarmine in the same locale. That's the perfect illustration of where college lacrosse is at this point in the year: You can create tiers of competitiveness, but delineating which teams are the strongest within those tiers is an exercise in trying to make infants not poop and want things all the time. There's all kinds of balance in these groupings, and the fact that teams are moving to and from these tiers makes the landscape of Division I all that more interesting.
  • To dovetail the last bullet point: The depth of the tiering at the top of the poll is why I have no problem with Notre Dame only holding a plurality of first-place votes. There are a host of teams as strong as the Irish, and Notre Dame's case as the nation's best team -- right now -- isn't without mitigation.
  • Johns Hopkins was impressive in their defeat of Virginia this past weekend -- the Jays' performance was probably the strongest they've put together this season -- but this isn't exactly a vintage Cavaliers team. Hopkins doesn't have the distinction of being the team with the biggest gap between its math and human poll rankings -- that honor goes to Loyola, which still hasn't played like a top five team all season and holds just a 7-2 record -- but the difference in the Jays' ranking is notable: Hopkins is pretty damn good (and apparently getting better), but there's still some uneasiness about just how good Hopkins is right now. (If I toss out the stupid RPI ranking, the gap is only about three positions with a LaxPower and efficiency ranking averaging to the 12th spot). Johns Hopkins' date with North Carolina on Saturday is going to be an important gauge as to where the Jays truly are in the hierarchy.
  • Drexel may be a bit overrated in the human polls and that's probably attributable to the Dragons being invincible and overcoming deficits and generating wins that they have no business doing. The kind of play that Drexel has engaged in over the course of the season tends to even out over time -- either positively or negatively -- and I don't expect the Dragons' gap to continue through the season as Drexel will either start to lose games that they are miraculously winning or start playing four solid quarters (with defensive aplomb) that allow the Dragons to put teams away in a fashion that the math nerds like to see.
  • Brown and Yale -- based on math-to-human-poll differences -- are getting more love right now from math-based tallies, but I'm not overly concerned about either of those teams at the moment. The meat of Bruno's schedule -- including a mid-week date against the Tar Heels this week -- lies ahead of them and Yale is going to get a shot at Pennsylvania this weekend. Basically, both teams are going to get important games against quality opponents in the coming days that are going to dictate responses from both the math-based and human rankings which should create some consistency in both teams' placements. (Although, the Elis have played a bitch of a schedule thus far, and that fact -- somewhat ignored in human polling due to the Bulldogs' pedestrian 3-3 record -- makes me wonder whether consistency in polling will definitely find the Elis in the near-term.)

What do you guys think about this? Okay or no-kay? The comments, they are yours.