Right when you think you’ve got this season figured out – BAM! – this weekend happens. I ended up covering the Denver/Ohio State game, so imagine my surprise when I finally had a moment to check the scores from around D1 at halftime and saw some of the results.
I admitted that last week I had second thoughts on some of my rankings (*cough* Boston *cough*). There are a number of teams that are in a tailspin and have fallen out of my poll. Some traditional powers struggling for consistency early are starting to play to their potential. I’m choosing to exercise caution on some of those schools. Conference play should tell us more.
Once again this week I tended to focus more on the L column, rewarding teams with 0, 1, or 2 losses. Three losses can get you consideration, but consecutive losses at this point in the season from a top 20 team is cause for concern. It’s time to attach the "Stone of Shame."
With that said, here’s my poll for this week and my accompanying reasons.
1. Denver: The Pioneers took care of business against Ohio State. It was a close game for 3 quarters, but DU busted things wide open in the 4th. Next week against Penn State has the potential to be a trap game though.
2. Notre Dame: It took over-time to beat Virginia, but Sergio Perkovic fared better this week than last. The Domers remain a team to be reckoned with.
3. Brown: Bruno finally played another top 20 team in Harvard and walked away with yet another win. Although Brown scored their lowest number of goals on the season (11), their offensive fireworks are what I like to see. They leapfrog Yale this week as a result. Villanova is on the docket this week so we’ll see if this ranking sticks.
4. Yale: Nothing against the Elis, as they’re neck-and-neck with Brown in both the polls and the Ivy League, but Yale can’t match the excitement level of Bruno. This switch comes down to my personal preference for each team’s style of play. We’ve got another month before these two teams go head to head and get some definitive answers.
5. Villanova: The Wildcats had a mid-week game against Bucknell that resulted in a 12-8 victory. Jake Froccaro only had one goal, but the fact that the rest of the team could deliver in that situation bodes well for Nova.
6. Maryland: The Terps had a midweek matchup against Albany that they won by the score of 10-7. The Danes made things interesting in the third quarter, but Maryland’s defense continued to show its mettle.
7. Syracuse: An OT loss to Hopkins earned the Orange a four spot drop. Is that a bit harsh, especially for a road loss in a rivalry game? Perhaps. But there have been a number of questions about Cuse this year and how they’d fare against top competition. The hard part of the Orange’s schedule is ahead of them and losing to Hop isn’t a great way to start the second half of the season.
8. Albany: The Scoobies two losses are to Syracuse and Maryland. They followed up the Maryland loss with a convincing victory over primary conference foe Stony Brook. Albany needed to go 1-1 this week in the very least to stay in the top 10 for me, and that’s what happened. The America East looks like Albany’s oyster again this year.
9. Johns Hopkins: The Jays beat Syracuse, yet Cuse is still ranked higher? What gives? Last week I had Hop at 10 so they move up a slot to 9. Syracuse drops from 3 to 7, so Syracuse definitely took a harder hit as a result of the loss. The Blue Jays have some grit and gumption this year. The B1G looks like it will be between JHU and Maryland this year.
10. Towson: A midweek win on the road against Ohio State and another at home against Furman saw the Tigers bounce back nicely after their loss to Hopkins last week. Towson’s next major challenge comes in two weeks when they open conference play against Drexel.
11. Stony Brook: The Seawolves have two losses, both to top 20 teams (Brown, Albany). Stony Brook also dropped a ranked Hofstra team since our last poll. They’re the beneficiaries of a number of teams ahead of them not faring too well in this past week as they move up one slot here.
12. Marquette: The Golden Eagles are a one-loss team, but I don’t think their entire resume is as good as Stony Brook, which is why the two-loss Seawolves are ahead of them. But Marquette is a good team and they’re winning the games they’re presented with. A convincing win over a solid Quinnipiac team moves them up this week. That single loss probably benefits Marquette more than anyone else this week in my poll.
13. Army: I’ve got a Patriot League logjam in this section of my poll this week. Army got in last week and moves up with yet another win. The Black Knights have two losses overall but lead their conference, which gives them a leg up over the next couple of teams.
14. Navy: The Mids had a bye last week but came back to defeat Loyola. Their only losses this year have both been in OT to top 20 teams. Navy had Loyola playing catch-up for most of the afternoon, putting their offensive anemia behind them. That’s what Coach Sowell needs to see from his squad going forward.
15. Boston: I had the Terriers at #9 last week, which was too high. This week they’re #15 after dropping a conference game to Bucknell. This seems like a much more comfortable position for BU in my eyes, at least at this point of the season.
16. North Carolina: Ok, this is the part where people are going to lose their minds. Let me say that I have no idea what the correct order is for these next three teams. I had UNC out of the poll last week, but they redeemed themselves against Richmond this week. A trouncing of Manhattan got the Heels above .500 for the season. UNC faces Maryland next week, and then their full ACC slate. It will be interesting to see how they finish out the regular season.
17. Richmond: Last week’s successes didn’t translate to the UNC game. But the Spiders are still 6-2 and right up there with Air Force as the best two teams in the Southern Conference. By virtue of their win over Duke in Durham, they stay above them this week. The transitive property holds–for the moment.
18. Duke: Mopping the floor with a bad Georgetown team isn’t very impressive to me. Plus Duke suffers a bit because Richmond lost, too. Air Force is on the docket next week and that could be a trap game before the ACC slate begins for Duke. The Blue Devils seem to be hitting their stride though, but you never know what will happen in 2016.
19. Harvard: I know the Crimson beat Duke, but since then they’ve been a different team. A three-goal loss to a very good Brown team isn’t a bad win, but it still puts 3 in the L column. Harvard is still a top 20 team, but somewhere in the back end seems appropriate.
20. Lehigh: Yet another Patriot League team with only 2 losses on the season. Those are to Army and Duke. Lehigh’s schedule is really tough down the stretch. Can they hold on to a top 20 spot?
Dropped out: Hofstra, Loyola, Rutgers
Also Considered: Air Force, Bucknell, Hofstra, Loyola, Mount St. Mary’s, Penn, Penn State, Rutgers, St. Joseph’s, UMass