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Acrosse the College Lacrosse Polls: April 15, 2013

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Aggregating NCAA lacrosse rankings like a mother.


The new media and coaches polls are out and everything has regressed to anarchy. Lacrosse teams are out in the woods with axes and crossbows, living off the land and killing each other because the social compact was burned when the robots revolted against us. In other words, Denver is number one in both tallies but its attempt at governance involves a laser scope aimed at its skull.

The media poll is especially hectic at the top of the tally with the first five positions shaking out like this:

1. Denver 399 6
2. Notre Dame 390 12
3. Syracuse 355 2
4. Maryland 350 0
5. North Carolina 348 1

(I'll be right back. I'm going to go smash may face into some cabinets until I can figure all of that out.)

The USILA poll is similarly unsettled, with Denver taking home three first-place votes, Carolina earning five first-place votes, and Notre Dame appearing at the top of two ballots; the Pioneers also hold only a two point advantage over North Carolina in that run. This is where we're at in the season, you guys: Relativism creating dissention.

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

Denver 7 1 2 3.33 1 1 1.00 2.33 2.40
North Carolina 3 3 3 3.00 2 5 3.50 -0.50 3.20
Maryland 1 8 4 4.33 4 4 4.00 0.33 4.20
Cornell 2 6 1 3.00 7 6 6.50 -3.50 4.40
Notre Dame 9 2 7 6.00 3 2 2.50 3.50 4.60
Syracuse 10 5 6 7.00 5 3 4.00 3.00 5.80
Loyola 6 10 5 7.00 8 8 8.00 -1.00 7.40
Duke 14 7 10 10.33 6 7 6.50 3.83 8.80
Penn State 12 4 15 10.33 9 9 9.00 1.33 9.80
Albany 11 11 12 11.33 10 10 10.00 1.33 10.80
Princeton 5 19 8 10.67 12 13 12.50 -1.83 11.40
Johns Hopkins 4 16 16 12.00 11 11 11.00 11.00 1.00
Yale 8 12 13 11.00 12 15 13.50 -2.50 12.00
Bucknell 15 13 11 13.00 15 16 15.50 -2.50 14.00
Pennsylvania 13 9 14 12.00 18 18 18.00 -6.00 14.40
Lehigh 18 17 9 14.67 16 14 15.00 -0.33 14.80
Ohio State 16 14 23 17.67 12 12 12.00 5.67 15.40
Drexel 22 15 24 20.33 17 17 17.00 3.33 19.00
St. John's 21 18 20 19.67 22 20 21.00 -1.33 20.20
Hofstra 17 22 17 18.67 20 25 22.50 -3.83 20.20
Villanova 19 20 31 23.33 19 19 19.00 4.33 21.60
Bellarmine 27 26 19 24.00 25 22 23.50 0.50 23.80
Army 25 38 18 27.00 21 21 21.00 6.00 24.60
Virginia 20 23 27 23.33 25 29 27.00 -3.67 24.80

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 15, 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: Johns Hopkins. To the Slums: St. John's. This is now two weeks in a row that the Johnnies have slid the most in its aggregated ranking. On April 1st, the Red Storm's aggregated ranking was 11.80; the math-based rankings and the human polls were almost in unison on where St. John's should sit, the former averaging an 11.67 poll position while the latter averaged the Johnnies ranking to the 12th spot. Since then, St. John's has slowly moved back following losses to Georgetown and Villanova. The Johnnies don't really have much a beef with their human poll positioning either, as the math-based rankings have St. John's positioned similarly to where the carbon-based pollsters have the Red Storm. It's odd to see a top 10-type team fall to the back of the top 20 in just two weeks, but that's St. John's existence right now. As for Hopkins, the move is warranted based on the Maryland win. The Jays are dangerous, and despite the rhetoric about Hopkins' season, Johns Hopkins has some heat as late-April approaches.
  • Inside Lacrosse's John Jiloty had an interesting tweet this morning:

    Look: You could throw Denver, Carolina, Maryland, Cornell, Notre Dame, and Syracuse into a bucket, blindly pick out a name from that group as the best team in the country at this point, and I wouldn't call the police to have you dragged from my front patio as an insane person trying to sell me a jar of peanut-butter-and-nuclear-waste. The differences between these teams are marginal, and the aggregated rankings bear that out. It is important to note, though, that an NCAA Tournament resume -- of which the Irish have one of the strongest in the country -- isn't necessarily a driver for in-season poll rankings. The two measures in the above table that actually consider performance against opposition faced -- LaxPower's ratings and the efficiency values -- push the Irish toward the back of the top 10. (For what it's worth, among teams with an average aggregated ranking of 10 or lower, only Duke sees greater favor with human voters than objective computer-based rankers. And that difference is even greater if you pull out the RPI rankings (those values aren't particularly good at judging team performance).) This isn't to say that those math-based rankings are correct or that Jiloty is incorrect; rather, a perceived tournament resume isn't necessarily how polling in April -- which considers a host of factors -- shakes out. It's a question of approach, and I can't fault anyone for not having Notre Dame in the top two at this point in the season.
  • Pennsylvania continues to feel the effects of playing in the Ivy League. The Quakers are still sneaky good this season and their human poll rankings are reacting more to Pennsylvania losing close games to solid conference opponents rather than how they've actually performed in those games. Pennsylvania has the opportunity to move up in the next few weeks with games against Dartmouth and Bellarmine, but the Quakers, at the moment, are arguably undervalued right now in the carbon-based polls.
  • Tiering once again dominates the aggregation: There are six teams within four ranking positions -- Denver, Carolina, Maryland, Cornell, Notre Dame, and Syracuse -- with three of those teams -- Maryland, Cornell, and Notre Dame -- holding essentially the same average aggregated position; three teams -- Loyola, Duke, and Penn State -- are locked together in a span of around two polling positions; there is a mess between Albany and Ohio State, with those two programs joined by Princeton, Hopkins, Yale, Bucknell, Pennsylvania, and Lehigh as the constitution of ranking positions 10.80 to 15.40; and the back end of the aggregation features four teams -- Drexel, St. John's, Hofstra, and Villanova -- within about two positions of each other. This is 2013 college lacrosse.

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