After being unintentionally (?) chastised by an MCLA article about trying to be more positive, I thought “maybe ranking the bottom half is much harder than I give it credit for”. So I decided this week to rank all 1-25.
Turns out it wasn’t that hard.
Kidding. There were some spots that I shifted teams around multiple times trying to figure out the right fit. 15-25 took me double the time that 1-15 did, and I still think I could be talked into another order. BUT! I have rationale for each of the spots. If you want more info why I ranked a team where I did, tweet at me and I’m happy to discuss.
As a related side note: As I have been doing the rankings this season I have been incredibly frustrated in tracking down the information. Swapping from team pages, to poll pages, to RPI, comparing them with other teams, etc. It made doing the rankings super tedious, so I built a tool to help me compare two teams and bring all that information onto a single page. I’m affectionately calling it “The MCLA Poll Voter Tool”, and it’s available for anyone to use. It works for both divisions and should help make the process of comparing teams and building polls easier. You will need a Gmail or GSuite account to use it, but if you don’t have one of those why are you on the internet?
Huge thanks to Paul Hutton for helping me build the tool. He has been my spreadsheet consultant this year and has been an invaluable resource.
The Top 10
We are inching closer to having them correctly slotted at #1 in the MCLA poll. With wins over #5, #8, #9, #10, #12, and #22 it doesn’t make any logical sense why it hasn’t already happened.
All eyes on Saturday when they take on Colorado.
With a win over Davenport last weekend, Michigan State climbed to #1 in the MCLA RPI. While I don’t have them quite that high, I do think they deserve to jump up a few spots.
Their defense has been rock solid in their biggest games this year, giving up an average of 5 goals a game against ranked competition. After Davenport put up 19 against BYU, Michigan State holding them to 5 looks even better.
Their schedule has ended up better than expected. They hit the road to square off with #8 Virginia Tech and #11 Liberty this weekend. the Spartans can solidify themselves as a top 3 team with a sweep in Delaware.
They have wins over #10, #13, and #19
The Liberty win is a difference maker right now. They have wins over #11, #17, and #20. That’s a better resume than Utah’s wins over #19, #22, and #23.
A lot can, and probably will, change as the seasons grinds on and teams get into conference play. The next time South Carolina will be seriously tested looks to be April 7th when they faceoff against Virginia Tech. Normally a lull of good matchups this long can lead to dropping in the polls, but Utah doesn’t play another ranked team until April 14th, so they have some time.
I’ve really tried to slot the Utes fairly based on their results. I’ve had several people mention on Twitter to me that they are KILLING everyone they play, but they aren’t really playing anyone right now.
A pretty fair point was brought up by Utah booster David Neeleman on Twitter that scheduling games for Utah was uniquely hard this year, especially home games. In addition to being in Salt Lake City (the site of the tournament and a destination people aren’t dying to travel to twice a year) the Utes aren’t offering any return trips next year for teams that make their way to Utah.
It wasn’t just the Utes that took this schedule hit, you can see it in BYU’s home schedule too.
Regardless of the reasons, you can (should) only rank real results, not hypothetical ones. So while you may think the Utes COULD win every game that Chapman has won, they haven’t.
When the Utes get into their conference schedule they should have a chance to play 2 top 15 games. That will help.
There is a real possibility that we could see 3 or more teams head to the tournament undefeated. If that ends up being the case I don’t see any way that the Utes are the 1 seed over Chapman.
The Utes added a win over #23 Oregon last Saturday in comfortable fashion. They now have wins over #19, #22, and #23.
But if you wanted to put Colorado anywhere between 3 and 6 right now, I think you could justify it. Their average win margin over ranked competition is just 1.25 goals. It’s been razor thin, but great teams win, and the Buffs have stacked together one of the best slates of wins in the league.
If they take down Grand Canyon on Saturday I expect I will have them at #2 next week. Huge game for both teams.
The Cougars are giving up 9.5 goals a game right now. Not terrible, but against ranked competition they are giving up 13 goals a game. It doesn’t add much comfort seeing Davenport held to 5 goals by Michigan State.
The Cougars have been balanced by an offense that is averaging 15.44 goals a game (14.75 against ranked competition).
Maybe we just need to expect shootouts with the Cougars all year and enjoy it for what it is. The games are certainly fun to watch.
The Cougars head to Boise this weekend with a chance to snag another lower ranked win against Simon Fraser. It’s their last chance to get an out of conference ranked win before they head into RMLC play.
The Cougars have wins over #17, #19, and #23 with a loss to #13.
The PCLL revival so far this year will be a boon to the Eagles schedule. The season finale with New Hampshire got a lot more intriguing, and if Uconn and Northeastern can pull off some ranked wins this weekend, the tail end of BC’s schedule will look pretty good.
Taking a look at just those numbers, realizing they encompass their entire resume, it seems reasonable to think they would land somewhere between #9 and #14.
They debuted at #16.
A fair question to ask is “If they had been ranked in the Top 25 in the preseason, would they have climbed higher?”
Did voters feel like a fair reward for an unranked team was to catapult to #16?
The reason it’s worth asking is because I can’t find the logic to have them behind UCSB.
UNH has wins over #15 and #22, while UCSB has wins over #14 and #19. Maybe you call that a wash with a slight nod to the Gauchos.
But UNH has the head to head over them, which should mean something. And their only loss is to #9, while UCSB has losses to #3, #16, #22 (who UNH beat) and unranked USC.
So I’m left scratching my head why they the Wildcats ended up behind the Gauchos. My only guess is that voters felt like their rise was rewarded enough with the #16 ranking and didn’t reevalute the entire poll with the new results.
11. Davenport – Win over #7, big loss to #4. Right now they are 11, but they have nothing left on their schedule to help their case. They will get passed by teams with better wins from now until the end of the season. I think they are AQ or bust for a shot at Salt Lake.
12. Liberty – Not a lot new about Liberty this week, but they have a chance to really make a statement if they can upset Michigan State this weekend. They also have Connecticut the night before that could be a tough game. Michigan State certainly has the favorable schedule for the weekend, getting both Liberty and VT on the back end of back to backs.
13. Virginia Tech – Still very similar to Liberty. If you wanted to reverse the order of these two, that’d be fine. They have the same opportunity as Liberty to take a swing at the Spartans this weekend. It comes a day after playing a total unknown in Northeastern. 2-0 and they are making waves.
14. Georgia – The Arizona State and Colorado State wins are looking a bit less impressive as both teams continue to drop games (and CSU drops out of the rankings). If you believe Florida should be ranked, you probably believe the Bulldogs are a bit under ranked right now.
15. Florida – I went back and forth on this one quite a bit. I had UCSB here, and then I ended up swapping them. I like UCSB’s wins better, but the unranked loss to USC broke a stalemate for me, and I ended up with Florida here. A win over #20 Georgia looks nice. All 3 of their losses have been to ranked teams. Most computer models like the Gators more than I do, but I do think they should AT THE VERY LEAST be ranked.
16. UCSB – The Gauchos continue their season of inconsistency with an 8 goal loss to New Hampshire. Their win against Arizona State has been monumental in keeping the Gauchos in At-Large striking distance.
17. Florida State – The Texas loss. Without that the Seminoles are firmly in the top 15. I waffled back and forth with where to put them. They have a win over #12 Georgia Tech, but I think Georgia Tech should really be in the 20-25 range. Tough call on where to slot them, but I have left them here for now.
18. Arizona State – If you like Quality Losses, you probably strongly disagree with this ranking. ASU has lost to 6 ranked teams, all by a goal each. But they have lost 6 times and their best win is #19 California. I’m not a fan of letting teams rise for losing gracefully, but the Sun Devil’s ranked wins keep them in the Top 20. The competition slows down a bit for the Sun Devils, letting them catch their breath before a huge matchup with Grand Canyon in a week and half.
19. Clemson – If you buy my premise that Florida should be a Top 20 team, then Clemson should fit in right around here. They have a loss to #20 Georgia, and they currently don’t have any ranked wins in the MCLA poll, but they do have a win over Florida, who I think should be ranked. The difference between 19 and 24 is actually pretty small in the grand scheme, so I don’t think the MCLA poll is egregiously wrong with the Tigers, but this is where I’d rank them.
20. California – Their only ranked win keeps dropping games. With a win over #22 Cal Poly and 5 ranked losses, it’s tough to have them much higher at this point.
21. Simon Fraser – 21-25 could be completely interchangeable depending on what you wanted to argue. They don’t have any ranked wins, but their only loss is to #9 Concordia. I don’t love them here, but I’ll explain why they are above the next few teams.
22. Georgia Tech – GT had been riding the wave of their Colorado State win. WIth Colorado State dropping out of the rankings, the Jackets no longer boast any Top 25 wins, similar to Simon Fraser. They also have losses to #2, #5, #10, and #17. Nothing to be ashamed of there, but nothing to climb up on. Colorado State isn’t ranked, but they aren’t a terrible team. Still a nice win, but just not quite as nice.
23. Cal Poly – The UCSB win keeps them ranked. Losses to #1, #2, #3, #14, #16, and #19 relegate them to 20-25 territory. I’d be fine if you said you felt like they should be above Simon Fraser because of their ranked win, but 6 losses is a lot. Only ASU has as many in the top 25, but ASU has 2 additional ranked wins (and a head to head over Poly)
24. Connecticut – I don’t really like anyone else enough to put them in. Uconn hasn’t played a meaningful game yet, so I hesistate to rank them, but I’ll borrow some history and give them the benefit of the doubt. We will know plenty about where they land next week.
25. Northeastern – Ditto