9 min read

Who Wants #1?

Who Wants #1?

Well, #1 has gone down again. Chapman dropped a 6-5 defensive struggle against Utah Valley this weekend. Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Chapman. Week after week #1 keeps dropping.

So who should be the new number 1? Does it matter? Let's dive in.

The Case for #1

The way I see is that there are 4 teams that have a case for #1. Let's go through them alphabetically.


The Case For

BYU hasn't just been winning their games, they have been WINNING their games. In their 4 ranked games, they have won by an average of 13 goals per game.

The neutral site contest against Liberty is their best win, and it was also their closest game, winning by 2 goals. Their 4-1 fourth quarter buried the Flames.

Nobody has been within striking distance outside of Liberty after halftime. Against ASU they were up 13-2 at the half, Northeastern they were up 12-2 and Florida they were up 11-2.

Surprisingly, the only other game where they've been pushed in the second half was against Grand Canyon. GCU kept the halftime margin to just 2 at 6-4 in favor of BYU before the Cougars rattled off a 6-1 third quarter and buried the Lopes.

The case for BYU is that they are an undefeated team with a Top 10 win that has been running away from the competition all year long.

The Case Against

The case against BYU would only be if you don't believe in the teams they've beaten. If you see Georgia Tech as a Top 10 team and you don't think Liberty belongs up there, you might say Texas should be above them.

A point was brought up on Twitter that BYU's margin may be partially explained by the fact that Liberty is their only ranked game where the team they played wasn't coming off a back-to-back (or a back-to-back-to-back in the case of Northeastern).

I've played and coached in a lot of back-to-back games. It certainly has some effect, but I don't think it's enough to explain away what BYU has been doing to these teams. Especially since most of their damage is being done in the first half, not the second half when legs start to get extra heavy. An interesting call out though!


The Case For

The case for Texas is that you have an undefeated team who took down Georgia Tech and Cal. Georgia Tech was a neutral site game, and Cal was a true away game for the Longhorns. If you like the wins against Georgia Tech and Cal more than Liberty (BYU/VT), South Carolina (VT), or Chapman (UVU) then the Longhorns get your vote.

The Case Against

Cal losing to Cal Poly doesn't help. When Texas beat Georgia Tech they were number 1 and Cal was rising after their own win against GT. The shine is coming off that second win.

Is Georgia Tech a better win than Liberty? Maybe! Is beating Georgia Tech by 6 better than Liberty by 2? Probably a reasonable case to be made there. Texas has to be thrilled that Georgia Tech completed the comeback against Arizona State after being down 7-2 at halftime, otherwise, this isn't really a conversation.

The Longhorns' only other good win is Cal, who I think will drop to the 15-20 range. The case against Texas being #1 is that there isn't enough there yet.

And if there isn't enough there right now, will there ever be this season? The remaining games for Texas:

Oregon (#17)

@ Southern Methodist (Unranked)

@ LSU (Unranked)

Texas A&M (Unranked)

Not a lot to make a strong case for #1, even if they end the season undefeated.

It's worth noting that SDSU looks exactly like Texas right now. They could easily be in the conversation for #1. Copy and paste what I said above but replace Georgia Tech with UCSB and Cal with Cal Poly.

Virginia Tech

The Case For

Spoiler alert, I'm still giving my #1 to Virginia Tech.

Wins against the currently ranked 7, 9, 14, 16,21, 22, 24 ranked teams. (#24 Colorado State likely ends up unranked this week though).

They share both of BYU's best wins in Liberty and Florida, plus they have the South Carolina win, which I believe will look better as the season goes on.

So the question is do you take the team with a better slate of wins but with a loss on their record, or do you take the undefeated team who has played less top-tier competition?

I value the wins.

The Case Against

Virginia Tech is the only team on this list that has a loss. I believe that will be what keeps them from being #1 this week in the poll. It's tough when you are going head to head with teams without losses that are starting to stack up good wins to be the one team with a loss.

My guess is VT ends up at 3 or 4, but like I said last week, I believe they've already punched their ticket to Round Rock.

Utah Valley

The Case For

UVU has the best win of anyone in this group. Chapman will probably drop to 4 or 5 in the poll, which means it will still be the best win next week. Their schedule up until now has been a bit light, but in their first big test of the season, they locked down Chapman to leave with a signature win.

If you love big wins, UVU is your team right now.

The Case Against

It's 1 win. Virginia Tech and BYU both have more ranked wins than UVU and there is still plenty of room in the prove it column for Utah Valley.

The nice thing for the Wolverines is they have a chance to really prove it this weekend. They head across the country to play Liberty and Virginia Tech in what might be the toughest road trip in the MCLA right now. (UVU and BYU could make a strong case as well).

If the Wolverines are still undefeated next week they are #1 and it should be unanimous.

So let's rank them.

#1 Virginia Tech
#2 BYU
#3 Utah Valley
#4 Chapman
#5 Texas

See notes above. Even with a loss to UVU, I'm keeping Chapman in my Top 5 on the back of their 5 top 25 wins.

#6 San Diego State

The next chance for the Aztecs to really make a splash might be their last game of the season against Chapman.

#7 Liberty

I'm not going to ding the Flames too much for losing to BYU, but they have to be frustrated with how painfully close they have been this year. They are 4 goals away from being undefeated. That Northeastern loss feels a bit like a millstone holding their ceiling down.

They get UVU on Thursday at home. A win would help a lot of voters forget about the early season anomaly.

#8 South Carolina

Put South Carolina in the bucket of teams I think are better than their ranking. Wins over Georgia, Florida State and Florida looked like they might carry more weight into May, but the Gamecocks will likely need to run the table to make a Top 5 push. Georgia Tech is the big test.

#9 Tennessee

The Volunteers have been idle since their win over Florida State. They play Georgia on Friday. The Bulldogs will be hungry for a chance to get back on the map. If Tennessee wins it seems likely they will go into their final game of the season with Virginia Tech looking to complete an undefeated regular season.

#10 Colorado

Colorado was idle last week as well. They play UCSB at home this Saturday. If they win that, I won't be the only person putting the Buffs in the Top 10.

#11 UCSB

The Colorado Classic for the Gauchos this weekend. Colorado and Colorado State. Virginia Tech barely escaped with a win. Let's see if they can fare better.

#12 Georgia Tech

It's tough to overstate how important the second half of the Arizona State game was for the Jackets. Coming back from down 7-2 salvaged their chances of an At-Large bid.

That feels a bit dramatic, but GT only plays 2 more regular season games against South Carolina and Georgia. A win over SC could go a long way, but had they lost to ASU the path would have been getting bleak.

If they take down SC and Georgia they will head into the SELC tourney as the #1 seed and firmly in the Top 10. Win out and a 4-5 seed may not be out of the question.

#13 James Madison

Idle, but still a 1 loss team. They've played some close games against teams that I would expect to see a bigger margin for a top 15 team (Pitt & NC State by 1), but they've won. West Virginia could be a sneaky good game. If Arizona drops out of the rankings they will be left without a ranked win. They start to feel a bit high as we learn more. Excited for the Liberty game on April 14th. That feels like forever away.

#14 Cal

Cal. What to do with Cal?

Without the Georgia Tech win they are easily 5 spots lower. But they did beat Georgia Tech.

Losses to UCSB, Chapman (by 1), Texas and Cal Poly.

Poly stands out as the anomaly there.

For now I'm leaning on the value of a great win to keep them in the Top 15, but I don't love it! You could talk me into dropping them 5 spots and I would nod my head and say I can see it.

I try to have a bias toward good wins, but at some point, bad losses outweigh those wins (see Northeastern). Cal is close to that point too.

#15 Florida State

FSU easily handled Central Florida last weekend. They climb up 1 spot on the back of Florida's drop. If FSU wins out and can win a game or two in the SELC tournament they will be a high-bubble team for Round Rock. If they lose to Florida or lose early in the SELC tournament, things get rocky for the 'Noles.

#16 Arizona State
#17 Auburn
#18 Cal Poly
#19 Florida
#20 Simon Fraser

Both Cal Poly and Florida are really tough for me to place.

I settled with Florida at 19, but as I mentioned in the tweet there is a lot we don't know about Florida yet. The Auburn game will be a good chance for them to set a floor if they can win. I'm ok with them at 19 for now.

Cal Poly has the Arizona State loss by 5 goals that stood out as a reason to keep them unranked without a great win. On Saturday they beat Cal by 4, so now they have a great win.

Giving them a nice bump up to #18. Next week the Mustangs take what might be the longest road trip in the MCLA as they head to New Hampshire/Massachusetts to play New Hampshire and Boston College.

Checking that "travel" box for the non-existent MCLA selection committee criteria.

#21 Oregon
#22 Northeastern
#23 Arizona
#24 Clemson
#25 Boise State

Oregon had their first real test of the season against Utah this weekend, getting away with an overtime win against the unranked Utes. Utah is sneaky good but inconsistent. The result doesn't inspire a ton of confidence in the Ducks yet, but a win against Texas on Saturday changes that.

Arizona lost to Chapman by 4, but had the Panther sweating in the second half. Arizona hasn't lost to anybody bad, but they also don't have a win to hang their hat on. I'm giving them some credit for getting out and playing the big dogs, but you could swap just about anyone else in the "getting votes" section of the poll for the Wildcats and it would be tough to argue against.