(In case anyone is wondering, the videos here the past few weeks generally have nothing to do with the rest of the post. Most of the time I put them here so you have something to listen to while you read, and, hopefully, discover something new.)
Well it seems as though a handful of ACC teams were playing possum earlier this year and now they’re tired of that game. I’m looking at you UNC and Duke. I’ve been really gun shy on Duke, but their absolute dismantling of Marquette made me change my tune. Well, just a little bit.
There were some changes at the backend of my poll as we welcome two new teams this week. So with out further ado…
1. Denver (11-1): In the third quarter of the Notre Dame/UNC game I started to tell myself that I really needed to rank ND #1 this week. Well, that turned out to be a moo point (like a cow’s opinion, it doesn’t matter). The Pioneers, on the other hand, dispatched a very good Providence team. Winning is a panacea so Denver remains as top dog. For now.
2. Brown (12-1): I’m good with calling Bruno 1B. I’ve had both Denver and Brown at #1 at various times this season and I don’t have any reservation about keeping the Bears near the apex. If Brown makes it to the quarterfinals or further the Tewaaraton is Molloy’s, right?
3. Maryland (11-2): Well Maryland used to be an ACC team not too long ago, so maybe that’s where they learned the possum act. John Tillman has certainly righted the ship, and the Hard Shells staved off a Buckeye rally on Sunday night to stay undefeated in the B1G.
4. Albany (10-2): The biggest test on the Scoobies’ schedule was Yale. It was a game the Danes needed to win and they did so in OT. It’s amazing that this squad lost one of the greatest D1 players of all time to graduation and have barely missed a beat. A top o’ the hat to Scotty Marr.
5. Notre Dame (9-2): Man, I thought ND had that game in the bag. I really did. I’m not going to say I enjoyed the schadenfreude… wait, yes I am because I did. Did UNC expose something in ND’s defense? The Domers hadn’t given up more than 9 goals in a game all year and then almost doubled that in Chapel Hill.
6. Yale (10-2): The Elis dropped two straight, but both of those games were to top 5/top 10 teams so they’re not going to get dinged too badly from me. Plus their losses are by a combined 3 goals. The Ivy tournament will be a lot of fun if we’re treated to a Brown/Yale rematch.
7. Navy (10-3): The Mids lost to Maryland on Tuesday night, but that doesn’t hurt them much in my book. Navy has sewn up the top spot in their league, and even if they falter in the tournament should still get an at-large bid.
8. North Carolina (8-5): A five-loss team at #8? I didn’t think I would’ve done that. But right now they’re playing like an NHL team fighting for a playoff spot. In other words, they’re already in playoff mode at the end of the regular season. Mix in a bit of desperation and this is NOT the type of team you want to face. The ND win shows that they can beat anyone, but they’ll need to string together a series of those types of games to win a championship. History suggests it won’t happen, but even if they spoil the party for someone else along the way, the Heels will make things interesting down the stretch.
9. Loyola (10-3): The Hounds were left for dead in Week 6. I dropped them completely out of my poll that week. Now they’re back in the top 10 and they flat-out out-played a very good Army team at Ridley. Loyola may be Navy’s greatest threat in the Patriot League, but both teams should get an invite to the big BBQ.
10. Air Force (12-2): A twelve-game winning streak keeps the Falcons in the top ten. Only lowly Jacksonville remains on their regular season schedule. Take care of the Dolphins and Air Force will be undefeated in SoCon play.
11. Syracuse (8-4): The Orange easily handled Binghamton in a mid-week game in the dome. This was entirely unsurprising. But it may have provided a bit of a confidence boost before the ACC tourney started this week. The Orange will need it as a re-match with UNC, at a neutral site no less, lies ahead.
12. Towson (11-2): It looked like Fairfield would give the Tigers a run for their money in the early going, but Towson pulled away as the game progressed. They’re back in the driver’s seat in THUNDERDOME. At least for now.
13. Stony Brook (11-3): Like Syracuse, the Sea Wolves beat Binghamton this week. This was a bigger deal for SBU though because it was a conference game. Their only loss in the America East is to Albany. A re-match in the championship game is likely, but not inevitable.
14. Duke (9-6): The entire idea of Duke University rubs me the wrong way. I can’t root for Duke in ANYTHING. I know I’m not alone in this regard. Nevertheless, the Blue Devils put up 16 on one of the best defenses in the nation against Marquette. Oh, and the Golden Eagles managed a single, measly goal. That type of result makes people stand up and notice. So, yes, I see you Duke. I still don’t think the Blue Devils will win out this season, but if they can play the role of spoiler I won’t mind – depending on who’s party is getting ruined, of course.
15. Rutgers (10-3): Their strength of schedule leaves something to be desired, but the Scarlet Knights’ showing in the B1G has been impressive this year. They’re sitting comfortably in second place with only a loss to Maryland against them. Their win over Penn State was huge and thrilling. But they still have Ohio State on deck to end the regular season, and the Bucks are looking to rain on someone’s parade.
16. Johns Hopkins (8-4): The Jays beat Michigan this week. To put in context why that doesn’t really impress me: Dartmouth beat Michigan this year. In Ann Arbor. I love Michigan and want them to be a threat when they show up on opponent’s schedules. But that’s not the case. As a result, Hop stays in the back end of my poll.
17. Villanova (8-4): The Wildcats had a treacherous stretch in their schedule that resulted in a three game skid. They’ve recovered from that a bit, but playing the dregs of the Big East helps too. Their upcoming game against Providence should be a good one.
18. Marquette (9-3): Holy cow. I was not expecting a 15-goal differential out of Durham this week. That was ugly. As a reward, Marquette now gets to head out to Denver to play the Pioneers at Peter Barton (I’ll be covering that game for Inside Lacrosse). How’s that for a slap in the face?
19. Bucknell (9-4): The Bison sewed up a home game in the first round of the Patriot League tournament by thumping lowly Lafayette this weekend. Will they stampede into the big dance or will the cannibalism of the Patriot League be their bane?
20. Bryant (9-4): I like Bryant. I’ve been tempted at several points this year to put them in the top 20, but never have. Now seems like a good time. St. Joe’s dropped out for me after they lost to Robert Morris this week. Winning helped me look past St. Joe’s weak schedule, but Bryant is the only team to beat Brown. Plus they beat Harvard back when the Crimson were a top 10 team.
Dropped out: St. Joseph’s, Penn State
Also Considered: Army, Hofstra, Penn, Penn State, Quinnipiac, Richmond, St. Joseph’s