Can you smell it, folks? There’s parity in the air. Sure some of the pieces have changed, but there’s been plenty of drama already in this young 2017 season. It’s still too early to have an accurate reading on all of the teams out there because some teams have played 4 games others have played 1 or none. So procure yourself a tombstone-sized piece of salt and throw your arm around it while you read my thoughts on how I see things as of the end of week 3.
Once again, I tend to look at rankings in terms of tiers. The rankings within those tiers are somewhat arbitrary because any of the inclusive teams could rise or fall within that tier at a moment’s notice.
To set the mood for this week’s poll, go ahead and hit play: ole Billy Preston has a message for this entire exercise.
Week 2 Media Poll
1. Denver: Call me biased, but this is a totally different team from what we’re used to seeing out of the mile high city. Yes, the offense and faceoff units are still juggernauts, but the real story here is the defense and transition. Denver’s placed a lot of time and focus on playing fast and it’s translating on game day.
2. Maryland: For a team that lost so much to graduation they’re sure steamrolling opponents. The hard shells look REALLY good early, which hasn’t always been their M.O.
3. North Carolina: Three might actually be a bit high based on how Hopkins is playing right now. But I had questions about them last week and the Heels came out strong against a solid Lehigh squad. I’ll leave this for now.
4. Johns Hopkins: It’s a good thing Hopkins has a good medical school/hospital because any more games like that Loyola tilt and the cardiac unit is going to be pretty busy. Consistency has been an issue in the past, but not yet this year for the Jays.
5. Virginia: Now pretty much everyone knows that I’ve never been an ACC apologist, and most of the ACC teams are ones I don’t particularly care for. But that’s why there’s this thing called objectivity. I can divorce my disdain for ACC schools, especially when a team like UVA is pouring in goals. Lars’ system with ACC resources should have lots of opponents worried.
6-10: Current Bridesmaids
6. Penn State: Talk about pouring in goals. Holy crap! What’s going on in Happy Valley? The sheer offensive salvos this team unleashes makes them a threat to everyone. We don’t know how good Cornell is and by extension how quality of a win that was for PSU but 56 goals in 3 games is nuts.
7. Yale: The Bulldogs started off their season this past weekend, downing Villanova. I’m not sure what to make of the Wildcats, but I like the Elis right now.
8. Syracuse: The Orange are necessarily dominant at the moment, but they’re good. Time will tell what impact injuries will have for this team and whether they’ll be a legitimate contender this year.
9. Loyola: How can an 0-2 team be a top 10 team? When both of those Ls come by 1 goal to top 5 teams, that’s how. This is a very good, very dangerous team.
10, Notre Dame: Again, a minuscule sample size for the Irish. I have Yale higher because I think Villanova is a better win than Georgetown at this point in 2017. Call me crazy. I had concerns about offensive depth, but it seems like Garnsey and Wynne will be an impact duo for this squad. Still, Shane Doss didn’t have the best day, posting only a 37.5 save percentage. That may be rust or not. Only time will tell.
11-15: Going To The Inside
11: Brown: The Bears suffer, in many ways, the same fate as the Irish here. One game against a team they should beat handily is all we have to go on. I’m leaving Bruno here for the time being.
12. Rutgers: I’ve been to Rutgers twice in my life: 2001 for the lacrosse championship, and about 2006 or so for a conference when I was in grad school. I don’t know if Rutgers is a lacrosse school, but judging by their football team they’re not a football school. The Scarlet Knights took down Army, which is always a hard get.
13. Towson: The Tigers dropped out for me last week simply because they hadn’t played yet. Well, welcome back to the show Coach Nadalen and company. A decisive win over the Mount gets Towson back in the conversation.
14. Marquette: The Golden Eagles suffered like Towson did last week in my poll, but they’re back with a vengeance this week after taking Jacksonville behind the woodshed. Marquette tends to backload their schedule with more difficult opponents so it will be interesting to see how things progress in Milwaukee.
15. Boston: The Terriers are 3-0 and it’s always good to be undefeated. And this is without Sam Talkow, one of the best faceoff guys in the country and a real sparkplug for the team.
16-20: Coming Up The Backstretch
16: Navy: The Mids are 1-2 but both losses are against top 5 teams. They righted the ship (excuse the pun) against Delaware this week, and take on undefeated Boston next week. Expect movement in this space.
17. Richmond: With Air Force faltering against Marist, I’m even more enamored with Richmond in the SoCon. The Spiders are undefeated, dispatching UMBC this week. Their previous win was a drubbing of Fairfield, a team that beat Bucknell this week. What I’m trying to say is that Richmond is a good team and deserves this spot.
18. Albany: The Scoobies lost their opener to Syracuse this week, but it was only by 1 goal and in the waning seconds of the contest. Perhaps they’re better than 18 right now, but this is a sample size placement.
19. Michigan: The Wolverines have never had a 4 game win streak at the D1 level until this year. They’re currently 4-0. Granted, they haven’t had the most difficult schedule to date, but what’s good to finally see is a team putting together a full 60 minutes on a more consistent basis. They’ve scored 13 or more goals in every game thus far. Their schedule is only going to get harder, but Big Blue has some much-needed confidence headed into the gauntlet.
20, Duke: There were a number of teams that I considered for the last place here, and going with the 2-2 Blue Devils normally wouldn’t happen, but I was really impressed with how they played at Denver this week. They matched the Pioneers step-for-step until halfway through the 4th quarter. Will closing out games be the challenge that this team faces in 2017?
The top 20 means that some deserving teams get left behind. For me the other teams I considered were, in no particular order:
Keep an eye out for my next poll column in a week or two.