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: Marquette, Towson, and Penn . Dropped out this week: Fairfield, Bryant, and Drexel. Also seriously considered: Penn State, Drexel, and Colgate (in no particular order). Look: It's February, and the back end of the ballot is kind of a nightmare of trying to understand both what these teams are and what their ceilings actually look like. There is going to be fluidity in that portion of the poll, if only because teams that are hanging around that end of the ballot are weird.
- There is more volatility in this ballot than I usually like, but the edges should start to smooth out in the next two weeks. I don't subscribe to the dogmatic idea of "Win = move up or don't drop; Lose = drop," but there needs to be at least a baseline recognition of results. (In other words: The best team doesn't always win, but a result is an illustration of the strength of a team.) It's important to remember that each result is a snapshot of the bazillions of results that could happen. The relative strength of teams will focus as the season progresses and the entire universe of results starts to make things more clear.
- Positions one through four are a giant clump of power right now. I wouldn't be shocked if any of those four teams earn first place votes this week, even with the tightness of Notre Dame's game against Georgetown on Saturday. The next tier of teams -- spots five through 10 -- are probably interchangeable as well, and I have no idea what those teams are if they met on a neutral field and played 100 times against each other.
- I didn't want to rank any teams past 14 this week, and it got a little hazy once I got to 12. Again: The back end of this thing is always going to create discomfort, but when all the ballots in the media poll are aggregated, any odd points should balance out.
- I'm hanging on to Ohio State and Lehigh for another week. I dinged both teams, but maintaining them on the ballot is a function of exercising some patience on both teams.
- I see you, Marquette. I want to see more of you, Towson. These are all teams that exist that have done things that caught my attention so far this season.