Wow. Last week was a fun one with the poll, eh? There was plenty of controversy once everything came out and I expect more of the same this week. In all honesty, it’s humorous the lengths some people will go to "prove" that your rankings are wrong. If you want computers to calculate rankings, here’s a link to laxpower. You can’t get better than that.
The human element of the polls is what makes it so interesting. Objectivity is (or should) always be the goal, but if the center doesn’t hold this week, next week it probably will. People have natural biases, and if you’re going to ask people their opinion, then that’s what you’ll get.
In talking with a Sacred Heart parent over the weekend, he said that their game against Air Force was winnable. Not necessarily one that they should win, but one that they could win. The light went on when I heard that because it concisely described how I often look at things. I tend to put less weight on games teams should win than teams that pull out the games that are just winnable.
So feel free to disagree with my rankings all you want. This is the way I see things shaking out.
1. Denver: A momentary lapse of reason occurred on Saturday when Sacred Heart scored the first two goals of the game. Since that time it was all DU… for the next two games. When DU’s starters are in, this team is amazing (I provide that caveat because Denver went to its bench early and often.)
2. Notre Dame: Bellarmine threatened the Domers late on Wednesday, but the Knights ran out of time. And did anyone really expect anything other than ND stealing Detroit’s lunch money on Saturday?
3. Duke: Maryland losing caused a ruckus among my contenders. Nothing is as clear as it once was. The Dukies turned the Dolphins into Chicken of the Sea on Saturday. Myles Jones finished the game with 1 and 1, and yet the train kept a rolling.
4. Yale: A lot of people, including me, have been high on Navy and Towson’s defense, but the Elis might take the cake right now. Yale cracked the Hardshells on Saturday by a tune of 8–5. It was pretty much the game everyone thought it would be. I’m very comfortable with Yale at #4 right now.
5. Syracuse: You say, "Wait a tick, ‘Cuse WINS and you drop them two positions?" I hear you Conwell, but I still think that the Orange are title contenders. Army is a tough out, but eking out a win over the Black Knights wasn’t as impressive to me as the Duke machine and Yale’s upset. This one is less about what ‘Cuse did and more about how other teams impressed.
6. Loyola: The Hounds win and stay at six for me. Will Loyola move up in my poll? Of course, that depends on the teams ahead of them, but they can control their own destiny against Duke (at Ridley) on March 12th. Mark your calendars for that one.
7. Brown: Bruno got into a shootout with Stony Brook. Both of these teams are dangerous offensive juggernauts. Dylan Molloy dropped 3 and 6 in that game. Holy schnikes!
8. Maryland: I dropped the Terps four slots after their loss to Yale. I think they’re still a top ten team, but perhaps I over-estimated the trajectory of their season. I’m sure things will correct as things progress, but for now the boys in College Park take a bit of a tumble.
9. Hofstra: The Pride follow up their upset of UNC by taking down a highly regarded Princeton team. Josh Byrnes is a bad, bad man. Leading the Pride not just with 5 goals, but some really sick ones, including the OT game winner.
10. UNC: The Heels round out my top 10 after taking down Johns Hopkins. This was a back-and-forth affair, but the Jays ran out of steam late. The win was a huge bounce back after falling to Hofstra last week. Perhaps that was the wake up call they needed in Chapel Hill? The road only gets harder as their next game is against Denver.
11. Towson: The Tigers bring their vaunted defense to Ridley to take on Loyola on Wednesday. Who will win the battle between the Tigers D and Loyola’s Canucks? This should be appointment TV this week.
12. Albany: It didn’t take long for the sleeping giant to wake up. Seth Oakes donned the shiniest armor in the charge against the Drexel Dragons. Is this the new normal for the Scoobies? Was one of their first two games an anomaly? If I had to guess, I’d lean more toward the Syracuse game in answering that question. The Danes are as dangerous as anyone. I like them at 12 right now.
13. Rutgers: From ARV last week all the way to #13? Seems like a big jump, but the Scarlet Knights just keep winning; I’m rewarding an undefeated team. I don’t think their schedule has been a walk in the park, as St. John’s, Army, and Fairfield are all solid teams. I like those three wins better than the paperwork some other teams have filed in 2016.
14. Marquette: I admit, I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop on the Golden Eagles this year. I thought that going in to 3-0 Richmond might be a major challenge for them. But Marquette got out to a big lead and never looked back.
15. Stony Brook: The Seawolves lose and I move them up one? Huh? I thought they hung really well with my #7 team. Even in losing, this is where I think this Stony Brook team is and I’d have a tough time putting the teams below them ahead of them at this point. YMMV, but this is my poll.
16. Harvard: This is another one where people will cry "inconsistency!" Like Rutgers I’ve had Harvard as an ARV team and yet they make their debut at #16. Why not put them next to Rutgers, if not ahead of them? I just don’t know how good this team really is. They’ve needed OT for all of their wins, as well as a few rallies. Are the Crimson lucky at this point or just plain good? I honestly don’t know, but I’m rewarding undefeated regardless.
17. Johns Hopkins: The Jays took a big tumble for me, from 9 to 17. The fact that they have such a tough schedule and aren’t getting blown out is keeping them in the top 20 right now. I don’t think this is a bad team, and I’m not ready to penalize them too drastically, yet, for playing a touch schedule.
18. Villanova: Perhaps I should just rank Jake Froccaro here? He hung 8 and 2 on a Penn State team that seemed like a team of destiny in 2016. Is Froccaro a synecdoche for Villanova right now? Whatever he is, the Wildcats won this keystone state battle with conviction.
19. Penn State: I dropped the Nittany Lions to the back of my top 20, and they’re behind Villanova, obviously, because the Cats pummeled them. But I’m not ready to give up on this B1G squad just yet.
20. Boston: I was ready to put Boston in my top 20 last week, and I assumed they would beat Hartford. But that loss kept them off my big board then. A gutsy win over a very good Navy team from a very good Patriot League means the Scrappy Dogs get the nod this week.
Also considered (alphabetically): Bucknell, Cornell, Georgetown, High Point, Lehigh, Navy, Ohio State, Princeton, Richmond, Virginia
Bucknell: Dropped their first of the season in an OT punch-counterpunch battle with Colgate.
Georgetown: The Hoyas are 0-fer this year, and I predicted they’d need double digits to beat Towson. They didn’t get there though. I fully expect them to be back in the top 20 mix soon though.
Navy: I’m not as high on the Mids as I was to start the year, especially after giving up a lead to Boston. If they’re offense starts to click they’ll be back in the top 20. It’s time for Jack Ray to go Hulk Smash.
Princeton: The Tigers were a borderline team for me already. They still are, but now they’re just on the wrong side of 20. A few Ivy league wins can change all that though.