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: Holy Cross. Dropped out this week: Colgate. Also seriously considered: There was some intrigue around teams like Georgetown, Boston University, and Stony Brook that haven't been in the ballot before (not to mention the teams that have shuffled into and out of the ballot in prior weeks), but nothing stood out as "Am I really missing this?!" Waiting to see more is a good thing, and there is a big crop of teams that are doing interesting things, but I'm not quite ready to ride their waves yet.
- Is Marquette a top 10 team? I don't know, but that's where the Eagles are on the ballot. The team's best wins -- Lehigh, Hofstra, and Ohio State -- are good but not exceptional, but the team has won everything put in their path so far this season. Marquette has the upcoming week off and then goes into a valuable two-game stretch of Georgetown and Villanova. How Marquette performs in those spots could help focus the conversation around the Eagles. It's an aggressive swing at the Eagles, and this is where the team probably caps out until some big ol' W's end up on the team's kill list (if Marquette can even get 'em).
- Loyola's drop isn't solely attributable to the way the 'Hounds lost to Duke. It's the combination of losing to Duke, squeaking past Lehigh, and losing to Holy Cross in horrendous conditions. The five-position fall is more of a three-week assessment of Loyola.
- I gave Villanova and Brown a bit of a push this week. The rise had more to do with the Wildcats' and Bears' recent stretch of results and less to do with Towson's and Harvard's existences (both were caught in the shuffle (although the Tigers' triple overtime loss to Navy didn't help)). The Bears may be massively underrated, but I want to see Bruno against Harvard next week before giving all of my money to Brown. The quality of competition that the Bears have destroyed hasn't been fantastic, but Brown is still doing what good teams do -- assault inferior competition.
- The run from 10-15 was very difficult to assess this week. It's not a pretty scene. I played with that group for a while and ultimately flipped Marquette and Loyola, keeping Army, Princeton, Hopkins, and Albany in the same order (and position) as last week. That felt weird at first, but I came to a pretty quick realization: Somebody needs to be in those spots. Game results obviously matter here and the ballot does reflect what's happening in the lacrosse universe, but this was still a bear to try and figure out. The Tigers' loss to Maryland was ugly and Army probably wishes it had another 60 minutes against Holy Cross to set things straight, yet the exhibition of some patience here may be prudent. More results will color the picture and I'm not opposed to upward and downward mobility after taking the time to understand what's happening. There's never a "perfect" solution, and what appears on the ballot is the residue of me negotiating with myself.