Well this week’s ballot is in the box so it’s time to say a few words about my selections. When my pre-season rankings came out a number of people seemed to think I was out of my mind with Virginia at #11. Even that I felt was too high. Loyola vindicated that selection, and then some, in my opinion.
So here’s where how I see things as of right now.
Also Receiving Votes: Air Force, Army, Cornell, Lehigh, and St. Joe's.
Week one is a bit of a challenge because in some respects it’s unfair to penalize teams that haven’t played a game yet. At the same time, however, those teams are still in "what if" territory so their subsequent rankings are subject to correction as I try to get teams in the right zone.
1. Denver: The Pioneers are still #1 until someone beats them. For now, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Some may look at the win they eeked out over Air Force and want to sound the alarms. I’m not one of those people. Air Force is arguably Denver’s biggest rival stretching back 50 years. The Cadets ALWAYS get up for the Denver game. Remember in 2013 when they took DU to OT? This isn’t as anomalous as it seems, especially for a rivalry game.
2. Maryland: I’m unchanged from my established opinion on Maryland, and see no reason to move them right now.
3. Syracuse: I didn’t really know what to expect from the Orange. Yes, you can caveat that Siena isn’t exactly the stiffest competition, but the Orange dominated the faceoff game. They got everyone involved in the offense (10 different goal scorers). And the defense looked pretty good too. I’m comfortable with this.
4. Notre Dame: What can I say, Syracuse showed me something this week and Notre Dame didn’t. I’m not saying ND isn’t good, but Syracuse impressed me enough to bump them down one. Again, that’s one slot for a team that hasn’t played yet. Let’s not check the flamethrowers at the door.
5. Johns Hopkins: How about that Navy game, eh? A nail biter to be sure, but good teams find a way to win. The Jay did just that.
6. Duke: I’m not ready to anoint the Blue Devils just yet. They beat two teams this weekend that quite frankly they should have beaten. That’s what you’re supposed to do if you’re a contender, so let’s not hoist Caesar onto our shields just yet. Lehigh proved to be a worthwhile challenge for the Dukies, and they managed to stave off a Mountain Hawk run at the end. Two games in 48 hours to start the season is a tall order, but Duke got the results they needed.
7. Yale: DNP. See Maryland comment above.
8. UNC: I can hear the din from the ACC folks now. But the Heels are 2-0. They blew out Michigan and Furman. Well, yeah. Isn’t that what a top 10 team is supposed to do? After the Michigan game the story was about Chris Cloutier’s 5 goals, but no one seemed to notice that Michigan’s Kyle Jackson matched that stat line. History isn’t always written by The Victors.
9. Brown: See Maryland comment.
10. Albany: See Maryland comment.
11. Loyola: I toyed with the thought of moving the Hounds into my top 10, but thought that was too much of a knee-jerk reaction. This is the Loyola team we thought we would see last year, but didn’t.
12. Georgetown: See Maryland comment.
13. Towson: The Tigers only allowed 2 goals in their win over Mercer. This bodes well for their defense.
14. Navy: The Mids lost a game and moved up five spots. It may seem like a big leap, but I think this is area where the Mids should be right now. That Hopkins game was something else and this team proved their relevance even in defeat.
15. Penn State: I moved the Nittany Lions up two spots after their two demonstrative wins to open the season. Again, these are games Penn State should have won, but we’re going to the right tier here, and this seems about right.
16. Marquette: See Maryland comment.
17. Ohio State: I’m sure I’ll get some complaints about this, but this is a team that some people think could be in the top 10. They barely beat Furman and then walloped a Detroit team that lost four of its five top scored to graduation. The Furman game suggests to me that I had this team over-rated at 15. Consider this a course correction.
18. Princeton: See Maryland comment.
19. Virginia: I’m hesitant to even keep the Wahoos in my top 20, but I’m giving Dom Starsia the benefit of the doubt. For now. This offense has been anemic in the early going if you look at their pre-season scrimmages too. There’s just not another team that I can justify putting here at this point in the season, but that’s not saying much because almost half of the D1 teams are yet to play a game.
20. Stony Brook: See Maryland comment.
Also Considered: Air Force, Army, Cornell, Lehigh, St. Joe’s
I dropped Harvard from my also-rans this week and added Air Force and Lehigh. Air Force may be 0-2 but those were both close games with top 20 teams. Lehigh showed some perseverance against Duke and if they can keep that up will make an always interesting Patriot League even better.
Any thoughts? Let us know in the comments section!