It’s time to come clean about my bias.
I have a winning bias. I love to reward teams that win big games against good opponents. In discussing the rankings with people I often hear “yeah, but you can’t ignore that bad loss” or “yeah but they have lost more games than X team”. If you have good wins, I care about that a lot more as a voter than if you have a bad loss.
Should GCU drop because they lost to CU and CSU? Of course. Should they drop below BYU because BYU only has one loss and they have 2? If you ask me, the answer is no. I like Grand Canyon’s wins better at this point in the season.
I don’t think I’m alone in this bias. I think the MCLA Selection Committee has historically leaned this way as well. You can look as far back as 2010 when Colorado made the tournament at 7-7. They had more/worse losses than many of the teams that were left at home, but they also had wins over BYU and the consensus #1 team, Michigan.
You don’t have to go that far back to find more recent examples. Look at last year’s tournament. Arizona State snagged the #7 seed in the tournament. They had a 9-6 record at the time. They had wins over Chapman, Utah, Virginia Tech, and Colorado.
Knowing my bias may help my rankings make more sense. My thinking isn’t held by everyone. There are some voters who punish you hard for losses. Much more severely than they reward you for wins. Ultimately, a balance of both is probably the right approach.
If there is someone out there who wants to bring balance to the blog by adding their own thoughts, we’d be happy to have you. Until then, we’ll stay on the light side.
It took a few weeks, but the polls finally got it right this week. All it took was for GCU to drop 2 games.
Presumably, they picked up all of GCU’s first-place votes, but interestingly they also picked up 3 of Utah’s. Voters having a change of heart? Utah only lost 3 points overall, which means it’s likely that the 3 votes that went to Chapman still had Utah at the #2 slot, but it’s still an interesting change for those voters.
Kind of crazy that the season is already winding down. Chapman only has 2 more regular season games. One against Claremont, which should tilt in their favor, and a season finale with a capricious UCSB team.
If they finish the season undefeated and run the table in the SLC tournament, the #1 seed for Salt Lake will belong to the Panthers.
Chapman has wins over #3, #8, #9, #11, #13, and #24
This is my winning bias in action. They haven’t been easy, and they haven’t been in runaway fashion, but the Buffs have stacked up some really good wins. 4 of those 6 ranked wins have come without the services of Senior starting goalie Jensen Marakov, who hasn’t played since the Liberty game. Grit is the best word to describe the Buffs this year.
They currently have wins over #6, #9, #10, #13, #16, and #18. Excepting Chapman, this is the best resume of wins.
They do have a loss, which teams like South Carolina and Utah do not, but it was to #1.
I’m not sure the Buffs will make it through RMLC play unscathed, but they have proven their ability to put away close games, so it’s tough to bet against them. Especially since they host both BYU and Utah. I feel pretty strongly this is the right spot for the Buffs this week.
I again had my weekly hemming and hawing about if it’s time to move the Gamecocks down due to inactivity, but they stay strong again this week. Part of that is because Utah isn’t really breathing down their neck by playing anyone either right now.
Utah and South Carolina actually have pretty similar resumes, but South Carolina’s Liberty win gives them a leg up. The argument that will be made is that Utah is KILLING teams, which is true, but so are the Gamecocks.
South Carolina has won their ranked games by 7, 14, and 2. Utah has won their ranked games by 6, 12, and 9. +23 for USC, +27 for Utah. But USC’s best win is ranked 10 spots higher than Utah’s.
I’m going to continue to ride the data and the quality wins. USC jumps up to #3.
The Gamecocks have wins over #10, #17, and #19 with no losses.
The Utes haven’t had any favors given them by the teams they have beaten. When they beat Cal, the Bears were #3 in the nation. They are still the Utes highest ranked win, but they are all the way down to #20. Cal Poly who was #10 at the time is now #24, and Oregon is on the brink of being unranked (something I think will happen in the next poll, Florida should pass them for that 25th spot).
For the Utes, they have just been victims of a schedule that flamed out. Volatility is one of the hardest parts of making an MCLA schedule. At the start of the season the Utes had plenty of Top 10-25 games lined up, but the way it’s shaken out, the teams they have beaten just aren’t very good.
We will have this same conversation next week because the Utes don’t have an MCLA contest this week.
Note to poll voters: Do not consider the Westminster game, regardless of the outcome. This is the only MCLA team Westminster plays, so you have no reference point about where they fit. Additionally, these cross-divisional matchups are often treated like scrimmages. I went to the ASU/Westminster game last year and both teams subbed liberally early in the game. This shouldn’t have any bearing on the MCLA poll. (this rant should be applied to all non-MCLA matchups)
The Spartans left the Battle at the Beach with a split that probably leaves a sour taste in their mouth. They played Liberty less than 20 hours after Liberty lost a nail-biter to Connecticut. On paper, this looked like a game MSU should roll in.
Credit to Liberty, they pulled off the upset and knocked the Spartans out of the ranks of the unbeaten.
Michigan State did bounce back the next day to snag another top 10 win with a huge victory against Virginia Tech. I question if VT should be top 10, but they are certainly Top 15, so it’s a huge win for the Spartans. They traded out their prior top 10 win with BC dropping to #11, but they still boast a very strong resume of wins.
It still feels like, despite their loss, there is some clear separation here between the Spartans and the rest of the top 10. Their schedule dramatically slows down headed into the CCLA tournament. The next time they take on a ranked team will likely be in the finals of the conference tournament.
They have wins over #9, #11, #14, and #20 and a loss to #10.
Sometimes on road trips, you prepare for one team, at your own peril. That might mean you only game plan for one team, or you are only mentally ready for one game. From the outside, it seems like that might have happened to GCU last week.
CSU played like a team backed into a corner and pulled off the unlikely upset. Two days later the Lopes were firmly in control of the game against the Buffs in the first half before giving up 2 big second half runs and eventually losing.
Unfortunately for the Lopes, this means their chances at a National Championship are done. 100% of the time they win the National Championship their only loss is to BYU. /sarcasm
The Lopes are still a very good team, and they aren’t the first team to leave Colorado winless. They get a chance to wash the taste out of their mouth with a rivalry game against ASU on Saturday. This game has a lot of implications for both teams, both on a national and conference level. The best thing the Lopes can do is forget Colorado and focus on the Sun Devils.
The Lopes have wins over #11, #17, #18, and #24 and losses to #3 and #22.
The Cougars had a nice jaunt up I-15 to Boise last weekend and left with 2 wins, one of them over #21 Simon Fraser.
Probably the best news for the Cougars is HOW they won those games. The Cougars defense put together their best games of the season back to back and gave up 3 goals against Boise and 7 against a talented Simon Fraser offense. It was the first time this season the Cougars held a ranked opponent under 10 goals, and it came on a day when the offense needed them to lend a hand.
It’s the right time for the defense to be peaking. The ride and the offense have carried the Cougars thus far, but as they get into conference play with 2 top 5 teams coming up, they will need to be clicking on all cylinders. Faceoffs seemed like a question mark heading into the year, but FOS Tyler Clancy has been winning 73% of his faceoffs for the Cougars, including a dominating performance in Boise.
Similar to Utah, their wins have petered out a bit, with their highest ranked win coming in at #19. They also have wins over #20, #21, and #25. As we get into conference play, it’s not unreasonable to think at least one of those won’t be in the Top 25 by seasons end. BYU will need to add some more ranked wins to their resume to get a competitive seeding in the tournament.
If feels like this is another clear point of separation in the poll. The gap between 7 and 8 is much larger than 6 and 7.
The Eagles have had some too-close-for-comfort games against a few unranked opponents, beating UVU and Santa Clara by just 3 goals each. I’m on record as not being a huge believer in margin as a reason to drop a team (this is still a team that played Chapman to one goal), but it doesn’t seem like Concordia is playing their best lacrosse right now.
The good news is that they are still winning. Looking at their schedule going forward, they are going to need to close out the regular season undefeated to be firmly in “At-Large” territory. I’m not sure they could weather a loss against UCSB AND another loss in the conference tournament and still find a spot in Salt Lake. Lose to UCSB and they may be AQ or bust.
There are still a lot of games left to be played, so that may not end up being the case, but from where we sit now, it looks that way.
The Eagles have wins over #15 and #21 and a loss to #1
It felt like everyone in the league was kind of waiting to see how good the PCLL teams really were. Besides Boston College, we hadn’t really seen any of them play against serious competition until New Hampshire headed out to California.
Uconn joined New Hampshire in making a splash. The Huskies took down Liberty in their first game of the Battle at the Beach in Delaware in a 7-6 defensive thriller. Their schedule so far isn’t much to hang their hat on, but they haven’t lost and they own a top 10 win.
We may not really know that much about Uconn yet, but I’m ok giving them the benefit of the doubt at 6-0. PCLL conference play will be fun to watch this year.
Outside the Huskies, the Flames probably left the Battle of the Beach with the best weekend. There are two teams in the MCLA that own Top 5 wins.
Chapman and Liberty.
It can’t be overstated how big of a win that was for Liberty. The SELC is crowded with talent this year, and getting the AQ is going to be a dogfight. If Liberty doesn’t end up with that AQ, the Michigan State win will help the Flames stand out in front of the Selection Committee.
I’m sure they have a pang of regret of what could have been if they had swept the weekend, but regardless, it was a huge weekend for Liberty.
For me, one of the curious parts of the latest MCLA poll was Liberty behind Virginia Tech. It seems like a no-brainer to have the Flames ahead. (Twitter agrees)
#11 Boston College – They will have plenty of chances to climb back up into the Top 10 during conference play. Sometimes the idle get jumped, but they won’t be idle forever.
#12 New Hampshire -They get jumped in the power rankings by Liberty and Connecticut. It feels like if anyone is able to run the table in the PCLL they will be sitting firmly in the top 7.
#13 Virginia Tech – The Hokies are left with a single Top 25 win after Northeastern dropped out this week. All of their losses have been to Top 5 teams, but they need to put up some more quality wins.
#14 Davenport – Davenport came dangerously close to losing to DII Dayton. I don’t love to prognosticate based on results against DII teams, but this was on both teams schedules as a game, not a scrimmage. Minnesota is a good team that has given a scare to several ranked teams this year. That will be a good game to keep an eye on Saturday.
#15 Georgia – Georgia knocked off an Alabama team that had been knocking on the door of the Top 25 and did so in convincing fashion. They currently sport wins over #16, #22 and #23, but the Florida loss continues to be a millstone that keeps them from climbing higher.
Best Of The Rest
Colorado State (I mean, it was a big win)