Week 3 Power Rankings – Challenge Your Assumptions

One of the most important things I have learned in my business career is the value of challenging your assumptions. Often times project directions, product decisions, and business strategy are driven by assumptions you make at the outset. But what if the assumptions are wrong? You could be putting yourself on a fruitless path because you didn’t challenge and reevaluate assumptions with new information.  I’ve made a habit of writing my assumptions down and reevaluating them over the course of the project.

Now I know, this is a lacrosse blog, not Medium. Enough with the sudo-self-help advice. But I DO have a point.

Assumptions serve a purpose. Without making some assumptions you wouldn’t be able to start. But assumptions that are never reevaluated hurt you in the long run.

Early MCLA polls are built on assumptions. They kind of have to be. There just isn’t enough information to rank 25 teams when they’ve played a handful of games (or no games). So it’s totally reasonable. What isn’t reasonable is to let those assumptions made in January continue to drive poll decisions in March.  If you are just shifting spots around each week, your assumptions are driving your poll.

Let me give a practical example. 3 weeks ago Utah beat Cal and Cal Poly by a combined 17 goals.  It was fair to make an assumption that Utah was able to beat top 10 teams by a large margin. You may have even voted Utah at #1 based on that assumption (👋). 

A few weeks later we have more information and it’s time to reevaluate those assumptions. Utah is still good, obviously, but they shouldn’t continually get credit for blowing out Top 10 teams when we now know those teams are more likely 15-20 teams. 

This should go for every team in the poll that you get better information about. You may have thought that Davenport didn’t deserve to be ranked in January. You have new information. You shouldn’t be adjusting their rank based on your January assumption, you should be reevaluating the entire poll with your new information and finding the right spot for them (it’s not at 22). 

As I mentioned in my first power rankings, I have no concern with volatility. With better information, I’m willing to throw away old assumptions. CSU only dropping to 14 and Oregon staying at 21 tells me that a majority of voters are not willing to do the same. 


As a quick note, when making my rankings I often refer to the MCLA RPI and the Poll Value Rankings to help inform my decisions. I would never use them as a replacement for my ballot, but they help sort out some the tough decisions. Feel free to check them out.  

The Top 10


Chapman should be #1, and it shouldn’t really be a debate. In the Virtually Varsity Poll Value Rankings Chapman’s Win Points are more than double the next closest team (GCU).

TL;DR, nobody is beating better competition more consistently than Chapman.

With wins over #5, #8, #9, #11, and #15, (based on the MCLA poll) nobody has a resume even close to what Chapman has put together so far. Nobody else has 2 Top 10 wins. Chapman has 3.

There isn’t much more to say. If you are voting in the MCLA poll, Chapman should be your #1.

I have watched Chapman play. 


As someone who was a bit of a doubter of GCU early in the season, they have done everything they can to shut me up. But nice try, I love to tweet.  At least I have nice things to tweet about GCU this week!

Monday night they put up their most impressive win of the season with a 10-1 drubbing of Boston College.  The GCU defense has been leading the way for the Lopes. They are currently giving up 4.25 goals per game. Against ranked competition, it’s 3.66 goals per game. Very impressive.

GCU has wins over #9, #15, #17 and no losses.

I have watched GCU play. 


I mentioned on Twitter that it seemed like this past weekend took a bit of the shine off Utah’s two best wins. Chapman beat Cal Poly by 11 and Michigan State beat Cal by 10. Wins that looked eye-popping 3 weeks ago are starting to look a little more normal now. 

That shouldn’t take away from the fact that Utah is still really good, but I don’t think they are the clear cut #1 they were a week ago. Especially with the weekend, Chapman put together.

If Chapman keeps winning, there probably isn’t much Utah can do to catch them for the 1 seed. Chapman’s schedule just provides better opportunities to beat good teams. Maybe that will change come RMLC’s, but CSU and BYU dropping games this weekend won’t help Utah’s SOS.

I do believe that if Utah had played Chapman’s schedule so far, they would probably be undefeated as well. But they haven’t. The poll shouldn’t be based on hypothetical results. GCU and Chapman earned the climb in the rankings.

They currently boast wins over #15 and #16 and no losses.

I have watched Utah play. 


A slow clap for the Gamecocks starting to get their due in the MCLA poll this week. I still think #6 is a bit under ranked (and the Poll Value Rankings would agree), BUT I think we are much closer.

South Carolina didn’t really add anything new to their resume this weekend, a 22-3 cakewalk against Elon was expected, but they did get some help from some of their earlier wins.

FSU’s run of beating Georgia Tech and Minnesota helped push them up to #13, giving USC a nice little marquee win. While not in the top 25 (why?), Georgia’s big win over ASU also makes SC’s 7 point win over them earlier in the season look better.

Climb carefully Gamecocks. The path up the MCLA Poll is slow and treacherous, and slips tend to slide you far down the mountain. But for now, enjoy your highest ranking ever.

The Gamecocks have wins over #13, and #19 and no losses.

(Also if you haven’t read USC Coach Harkey’s article about the poll from this week, take a minute and read it. It’s great)

I have NOT watched USC play. 


This is the first spot of the poll where my confidence in the spot is low. I’d be fine if you swapped MSU and South Carolina.  Boston College’s top 10 push last weekend helped add legitimacy to the Spartan’s fast start. Top 10 wins aren’t common, and MSU has snagged one.

I mentioned last week that if MSU could sweep their California trip they would be a Top 5 team. Well, they did. And they are.

Their next game against Davenport got a lot more interesting after Davenport’s big win at BYU. Something I’m sure Michigan State is grateful for. Adding another ranked game to the schedule is exactly what they needed.

They have wins over #9 and #16 and no losses.

I have watched MSU play


If you didn’t get a chance to watch the CU/Chapman game on Friday night, you missed a GREAT one.

Sidenote: Props to the good people at TVX Video and The SLC Conference for making the game of the week happen. Top notch quality and a great showcase for the MCLA. 

Back to the game. It was neck and neck, back and forth until Chapman put a run together in the 4th quarter to finally pull away. CU made some early season mistakes, but don’t let the final score fool you. CU can run with Chapman.

Two days later they edged out an OT win over Virginia Tech. I didn’t get a chance to watch that game *shakes fist at sky*, but the difference between winning in overtime and losing in overtime is big. Maybe it shouldn’t be, but in the current MCLA it is. They got it done and notched a Top 10 win of their own.

CU currently has a loss to #3 and a win over #8

I have watched CU play


Davenport is one of the best examples of voters needing to frequently reevaluate. If you, as voters, believe that BYU should be #7, how do you justify putting Davenport 15 spots behind them?

If Davenport had a string of losses on their schedule, sure. Maybe that makes sense. But with a 4-0 record and a head-to-head win, Davenport should be ranked above BYU.

Unless you are willing to ignore results.

As I mentioned above, if you are simply looking at your poll from the week before and rewarding/punishing wins and losses based on where they were last week, you are doing your poll wrong. You need to be taking in all new information and restructuring your poll.

A 3 goal win over BYU was a -3 event for BYU and a +4 event for Davenport. Silly.

Davenport was the most improperly voted team in this past poll.  The Data backs that up.

Davenport boasts a win over #7 and no losses.

I have watched Davenport play.


Losing to South Carolina was a surprising start to the season, but now knowing that the Gamecocks are a top 6 program, does that change your outlook on that game? It probably should.

FSU found a way to snag a rare road win at Georgia Tech and followed it up by beating (previously ranked) Minnesota. Their win against Texas A&M is inexplicably still a ranked win, but that should change next week.

The Seminoles have a huge matchup with BYU on Saturday. Either team will cement themselves in the Top 10 with a win and a weekend sweep in Texas.

FSU has wins over #11 Georgia Tech and #25 Texas A&M and a loss to #6 South Carolina.  

I have watched FSU play.


Boston College is a great example of a team that has pushed themselves with their schedule. They have played 3 of the Top 5 teams (losing all three) and have played 2 other Top 25 games (winning both).

So do you let them climb the rankings on the back of some quality losses? I don’t think you need to. With wins over #10 and #11, they have earned a Top 10 ranking.

BC’s biggest remaining games are against in conference competition that we really know nothing about. For the Eagles sake, hopefully, UConn and Northeastern can live up to their rankings and give the Eagles a chance to add some more Top 25 wins to their resume.

It’s worth noting that a loss anywhere on their schedule moving forward puts them in a precarious territory for an at-large bid.

Boston College has wins over #10 ASU and #11 Georgia Tech and losses to #2 GCU, #3 Chapman, #4 Michigan State.

I have watched BC play.


We don’t know enough about Concordia yet, but they sneak into the top 10 by not losing and snagging a top 25 win over Simon Fraser last week. They’re probably a little overrated here, but not by much.

Their matchup with Chapman this weekend will tell us a lot more about them.

This ranking feels similar to CSU last week. A placeholder. They may move up, or they may move down, but they probably won’t stay here for very long.

Their schedule is on the weak side of things, so any drop may be too far to climb back up without upsetting Chapman in the conference tournament.  Tough spot to be in for a team looking for a tournament bid in one of the toughest conferences in the league.

Concordia has a win over #23 Simon Fraser.

I have NOT watched Concordia play.

The Next 5

11. ASU – 3 great wins, 3 tough losses. A little Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde so far for ASU. They have the best opportunity to make up ground with their schedule.

12. BYU – A win over Cal keeps them floating, but the Davenport loss hurts. Cougars don’t have much more margin for error.

13. Virginia Tech – I don’t really love them here, but I don’t want to get in the habit of rewarding teams for losses. Amiright, voters?

14. Oregon – A 9 goal win over CSU. CSU drops 4 spots, Oregon stays still. EGREGIOUS!

15. Cal Poly – I don’t reward teams for losing, even to good teams, but I don’t think they should drop out of the top 15 with 4 losses. All 4 losses are to Top 10 teams, and their UCSB win gives them a top 25 win to keep them afloat.

Best of the Rest

Teams Listed in Alphabetical Order

Boise State



Georgia Tech



If you want to discuss this post more, head to Twitter! The engagement and discussion will be much more lively there than here. Not sure who to tweet at? Start with us!