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: Bucknell. Dropped out this week: Holy Cross. Also seriously considered: Boston University. There are a bunch of teams that are odd -- Georgetown, Hofstra, Ohio State, Navy, Fairfield, etc. -- that are in the conversation for a position on the ballot. As schedules start to pivot toward conference play, the potential of these teams should start to focus and help alleviate some of the mess at the back of the ballot.
- Brown: I took a big swing at Bruno this week, pushing the Bears up six positions. I had Brown as high as ninth on the ballot, but decided to see what Bruno would do against the Bison this week to affirm the Bears as a top 10 team. A six-position rise is big for me -- I am infamous for exercising patience on teams -- and Brown has earned it through their first five efforts this season.
- Johns Hopkins: I don't know if the Jays fall out of the top 20 when the poll is aggregated, but it's tough to punish Hopkins too much for hanging around with Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. Look: The Blue Jays are 3-4, but their 3-4 is importantly different than Pennsylvania's or Penn State's 3-4. Hopkins has played the nation's third toughest schedule according to LaxPower, and that has to factor into an analysis around the Jays. How many teams can run with the Orange, lose a heartbreaker to Princeton in overtime, and show well against North Carolina in Chapel Hill? Johns Hopkins has issues, but I'm not sure there are 15 teams better than the Blue Jays right now.
- The top four is really tight. Again: I wouldn't be surprised if voters throw first place votes at any of those four teams. I think there's a gap to the Cornell-Maryland-Denver tier, but it's not big.
- There will always be cognitive dissonance in a ballot when focus is put almost exclusively on head-to-head results. Head-to-head results matter, but they're only part of the analysis, not the driving force. This is why I have no problem putting Maryland ahead of Yale or Cornell ahead of Virginia.
- Marquette: I am really hoping that the Eagles' dates against Georgetown and Villanova help define what kind of team Marquette is. I think there are some teams currently behind the Eagles that might be stronger than Marquette, but 7-0 is a powerful tool that the Eagles are wielding (this is kind of the inverse of the Hopkins situation).
- Everything else on the ballot is the result of shuffling chairs. Denver and Army took shots this week, but even those moves were influenced by moving a team forward a spot or two and the Pioneers and Black Knights having their positions impacted. That doesn't concern me too much.