I spent the weekend in the Adirondacks on Lake George for a little rest and relaxation before the college lacrosse season flips the switch on its jet pack and accelerates into the unknown. There are few places in the country as beautiful and serene as Lake George, and it was nice to spend a weekend – the first in almost a year – not incessantly pouring over lacrosse material for various purposes. While I unplugged for the majority of the long weekend, Division I lacrosse did elbow its way into my drink-beer-and-eat-a-clambake vacation: (1) I briefly checked scores Saturday morning over breakfast; (2) I watched the Jacksonville-Canisius and Loyola-Hobart games (thanks, Time Warner Cable Sports!); and (3) I checked scores again Saturday evening (what the hell is going on with you, Hofstra?!).
It was a nice weekend “away,” and the nation managed to recognize the fact that I needed to recharge my battery -- only four teams that I had in my top 20 last week – Syracuse, Denver, Yale, and Hofstra – lost over the last seven days, two of those teams losing on Saturday. A little bit of sanity as I was trying to regain mine was a welcome development, and my ballot this week should reflect that. I’m on the fence about taking a bigger swing at making course corrections after next week’s games, but right now I feel fairly comfortable that teams are positioned in the appropriate tiers (even if their specific slotting is a position or two off).
Here's what I'm submitting this week. As always, some brief notes accompany the ballot so that you can understand why I did what I did.
|1.||North Carolina||+1||11.||Penn State|
- New this week: Marist. Dropped out this week: Hofstra. I was probably holding onto the Pride a little longer than I should have, but after Hofstra’ s loss to Massachusetts on Saturday the picture became clear that Hofstra probably needs a respite from the top 20 despite its still-relevant victory over Notre Dame a few weeks ago. The Pride have issues – not unlike many teams on the back end of the top 20 – and Hofstra doesn’t have the luxury of taking a weekend in the mountains to center itself. As for Marist, the Red Foxes are getting an “Atta boy!” ballot position for their victory over Siena, locking Marist into the MAAC’s top seed. There are a handful of teams that are in the conversation for that last position – Army, Virginia, Bellarmine, Villanova, Brown, Harvard, Air Force, etc. (obviously these are on a sliding scale and some arguments aren’t nearly as strong as others) – but Marist and Keegan Wilkinson deserve recognition for what they’ve accomplished this season in Poughkeepsie.
- I don’t know what other people are doing with their first-place vote this week. Maryland’s defeat of Yale was more impressive than North Carolina hammering High Point, and that’s certainly reason to move the Terrapins ahead of the Heels, but Carolina has been humming on all cylinders and the smell of Maryland’s loss to Hopkins still lingers. I feel okay with putting the Tar Heels at the top of the hierarchy, but let’s be serious here: I wouldn’t blow a gasket if any of these following teams were voted Agent Awesome in tomorrow’s media poll – Carolina, Cornell, Maryland, Notre Dame, or Loyola. (Again, each team has different arguments for the top position in the poll (and people obviously value those arguments in unique ways), but those five teams probably have the best cases for earning the top position in the media poll right now.)
- Even though Denver lost in overtime I still moved the Pioneers back to the sixth position. That may be a little drastic, but I’m just not enamored with Fairfield this season. I wouldn’t necessarily call Denver’s loss to the Stags a “bad loss,” but it wasn’t a good one. I know that people are going to yap about having the Pioneers behind the Greyhounds a week after Denver beat Loyola in Baltimore, but that’s mostly the function of the Pios having a tough time against a team it should have put away by at least two goals and instead losing in overtime. As I’ve written numerous times before: If you can come up with a method that perfectly accounts for head-to-head wins and losses across the board, applies the transitive property perfectly, and also has a watertight method for weighting the value of head-to-head wins that occur earlier and more recently in the season, I’d be glad to see it. Otherwise, this kind of thing happens. The Pioneers and Greyhounds will hopefully settle the score between the two in the ECAC Tournament, so I wouldn’t get to anxious about the relative polling positions at the moment.
- Syracuse’s drop was part course correction (I probably had the Orange a little higher than I should have last week) and partly responsive to the mid-week loss to Hobart (and tight victory over Georgetown). Yale is in a similar situation to Syracuse but slightly different. I didn’t move the Elis this week (despite losing to Maryland in dramatic fashion) for a simple reason: I probably had the Bulldogs under-ranked the last few weeks (this was a known issue) and the Elis’ loss allowed for the course correction to occur somewhat organically. Don’t get upset St. John’s, Ohio State, and Marist fans – I’d still have your team of preference behind Yale if I had the Elis slotted appropriately going into this weekend. Good talk.
- This is kind of nuts: I didn’t move any team from the 10th position all the way back to the 19-hole. Every team in that 10-position subset (save for Yale) won this weekend. The static positioning of those teams was due to the fact that I only shuffled two teams – Syracuse and Denver – that were already in the top 10 to different positions in the top 10. It’s tough out there for a player, you guys. These are the teams, though, that are most eligible for course correction after next week’s games if I choose to take a big swing at the ballot. So, keep that in mind as everything moves toward conference tournaments and the end of the regular season.
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.