The first in-season media poll goes live tomorrow morning. With Division I currently featuring a chunk of teams that haven't played yet and even more that only have a game or two under their belts, it's a little difficult to feel completely comfortable about where teams should be ranked (especially considering it's only February, and this month tends to have some results that aren't necessarily congruent with where teams actually are on a competitive basis). As a result, I focused on trying to get teams situated into the tiers at which they currently reside and then moved on to trying to rank those squads based on where they are relative to the teams in their tier.
In the interest of transparency, here's how I voted in the Inside Lacrosse media poll this week. Some brief explanations follow the ballot.
- New this week: Massachusetts. Dropped out this week: Drexel. It's really close at the back of the poll. I considered leaving the Dragons in the 20th spot, but Massachusetts' wins -- against Army and Ohio State -- are solid. Fairfield, Georgetown, and Colgate were also considered in some form for the back end of the ballot.
- As you'll notice throughout the year, I am exceedingly patient with moving teams around. This ballot is indicative of that. The entire existence of the transitive property means nothing to me, and just because Team A beats Team B, that doesn't mean that Team A will jump Team B if Team B was ahead of Team A the prior week. Consistent with policy in previous seasons: If you can create a ballot that perfectly adopts the transitive property and makes every "Team A beats Team B; Team A rises above Team B" situation work, I'll submit your ballot as my own. (It is impossible to make that model work, but you're welcome to try.) The games 100 percent matter, but they're not the be-all, end-all of ranking teams, especially given the relatively short schedules these teams will play.
- Much of the movement here was dictated by the positioning of four teams: Johns Hopkins, Denver, Loyola, Ohio State, and Bucknell. Johns Hopkins' repositioning was due to a recalibration of preseason expectations about the Jays and reflective of the team's wins. The same thing applies to Loyola, even though the 'Hounds have started 1-1 (an overtime win and an overtime loss).
- On Ohio State: Two heartbreaking overtime losses make the Buckeyes' situation difficult to understand. They played square with Hopkins -- and the Jays look good -- and also swung blow-for-blow with Massachusetts, a team expected to be inferior to Ohio State. The drop is big, but I couldn't reconcile popping them only a position or two based on the competition in each of the losses.
- On Bucknell: Only put six on Delaware and lost to Bryant. The Bison are still in the conversation as a team with a high ceiling, but the season hasn't started well for Bucknell.
- I left Penn State in the same spot as the team's preseason position. I know the Lions lost in overtime to Loyola this weekend, but this is an example of the patience I note above. The team's trip to Notre Dame this coming weekend could either validate this decision or prove it incredibly stupid.
- Albany loses and moves up. It's weird, but that's partly attributable to Ohio State and Bucknell falling. It's also hard to crush the Great Danes after what they did in the Dome.
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.