Monday, March 16, 2009
Big battles cause lax free-for-all
By Quint Kessenich
It was a crazy week for the Top 10, as Hofstra beat Princeton, UMBC topped Maryland, Duke rolled North Carolina and Hobart ambushed Georgetown. It was a week defined by carnage.
We're a month into the 2009 season. Virginia and Syracuse have separated themselves from the pack. It's a two-horse race for the title. After that, your guess is as good as mine. It's a weekly free-for-all.
In my opinion, there are roughly 14 teams vying for the other two Final Four slots in Foxborough. All appear to have the necessary talent and coaching to win two games in the NCAA tournament, but none have shown the ability to beat top-ranked foes on back-to-back weekends.
Quint's Power Rankings
Previous ranking: 1
The Cavs dusted Towson 11-2 thanks to a slowdown Tigers offense that took 19 shots and committed 32 turnovers. The Wahoos travel to Homewood Field to face Johns Hopkins on Saturday (ESPNU, 8 p.m. ET). With 10 weeks until Memorial Day, I'm not sure what impact playing five games in the month of February will have on the Final Four.
Previous ranking: 2
About 9,200 fans witnessed a 14-11 Syracuse win in the Carrier Dome over Johns Hopkins. The Orange had nine goal scorers. A 6-0 run late in the first quarter and early in the second quarter created separation. The Orange outshot JHU 29-9 in the first half. Josh Amidon had a hat trick, and Matt Abbott tallied four points. Goalie John Galloway made just five saves.
3. Notre Dame
Previous ranking: 6
The Fighting Irish beat North Carolina 9-7 on March 8 and came out flat against Bucknell on Thursday but prevailed 10-6. The Carolina win lost luster when the Heels lost to Duke on Saturday at home. Wins over Carolina and Bucknell aren't overly impressive at this stage. But who else can you rank No. 3? Notre Dame's strength of schedule will be a huge question mark in May. The Irish could go undefeated this spring against a soft schedule -- they have eight games remaining against non-Top 20 competition. Where will they deserve to be seeded in the NCAA tournament?
4. Johns Hopkins
Previous ranking: 5
Hopkins is a step behind the top two teams in the land -- but a legitimate contender for championship weekend. Hopkins fell to Syracuse 14-11 in the Carrier Dome on Saturday afternoon. Kyle Wharton had five points in the loss. The JHU wins over UMBC and Hofstra gained significant credibility this week. The Jays have losses to Princeton and Syracuse. They host Virginia on Saturday night.
Previous ranking: 10
The Pride upset Princeton on Saturday behind three goals from Anthony Muscarella. Hofstra took only 24 shots but surged out to a 5-1 lead. The Pride have hard-fought wins over Brown, UMass and Princeton and are in the catbird seat, as the CAA has never been weaker.
Previous ranking: 3
The Tigers were tripped up by Hofstra. The orange and black own quality wins over Hopkins and UMBC. Spring break is an opportunity for the Tigers to turn it up a notch. They host Albany on Friday.
Previous ranking: 11
The Retrievers handled Maryland for the third straight time behind a 10-of-20 faceoff performance by freshman Justin Radebaugh. They led 5-1 and 9-4 before Maryland scored the last three goals of the game. Kyle Wimer and Alex Hopmann both scored two goals. UMBC will take on Peet Poillon's former team, Ohio State, on Saturday at home.
Previous ranking: 20
Welcome to the Top 10. The Statesmen are off to a super start after beating Bucknell and Georgetown.
Previous ranking: 9
How can I possibly rank Cornell No. 3 or No. 4? Who have the Big Red beaten? (Answer: Binghamton, Army and Canisius.) I watched their 9-8 win over Army on ESPNU and had a lukewarm reaction. We'll see. The Big Red are in Durham on Tuesday for a big tilt against Duke.
Previous ranking: 16
Jordan Burke made 20 saves and Reade Seligmann scored three goals as the Bears beat UMass 9-8 this week. The Bears have won three one-goal games and will be favored in their next six games.
Previous ranking: 4
The Terps' team strength is their first midfield (Jeremy Sieverts, Dan Groot and Jeff Reynolds), but against UMBC, all three were held without a goal. The Maryland defense and team speed are vulnerable against top opponents with quickness and speed. The Terps have a win over Duke and losses to Georgetown and UMBC.
Previous ranking: 19
Harvard took care of Hartford on Friday. The Crimson have a win over Duke and a loss to UMass. They tackle Penn on Saturday in Cambridge.
Last week: 12
The Blue Devils took a big step in the right direction by beating North Carolina on Saturday. Justin Turri netted the hat trick, and Zach Howell contributed two goals. They host Cornell on Tuesday and Georgetown on Saturday -- the Hoyas' Scott Kocis and Craig Dowd were originally committed to Duke. How strong would Duke be with Kocis, Dowd and Virginia's Ken Clausen in its lineup?
Previous ranking: 15
The Greyhounds are grinding out wins over mid-major teams. They beat Bryant on Tuesday and St. John's on Saturday. They are 2-0 in the ECAC.
15. North Carolina
Previous ranking: 8
The Heels lost their 19th consecutive ACC game, falling to Duke 12-8 in front of a mere 531 fans in Chapel Hill.
Previous ranking: 17
A 10-8 win over Lehigh on Tuesday wasn't impressive; neither was a 10-5 come-from-behind win over Holy Cross on Saturday. If you're a Navy fan, you're hoping the Mids are playing to the level of their competition -- and have more in the tank when they play teams such as Colgate, Army, Hopkins and Maryland.
T16. St. John's
Previous ranking: 14
The Red Storm fell to Loyola this weekend and are 4-1 after beating Georgetown and Drexel.
Previous ranking: 7
The enigmatic Hoyas beat Delaware on Wednesday but got dusted by Hobart on Saturday. Georgetown has two ECAC losses and is backed into a precarious spot. The encouraging news is that it still gets to play Navy, Harvard, Loyola and Duke.
Previous ranking: Not ranked
The Great Danes beat UMass and Drexel this week and appear to be surging.
Previous ranking: 13
The Minutemen lost to Albany midweek and to Brown on Saturday. They are the "tough luck" team of 2009 -- much better than their record indicates. Greg Cannella's squad visits Loyola on Saturday.
Previous ranking: Not ranked
The Black Knights beat Rutgers on Saturday.
Quint Kessenich covers college and professional lacrosse for ESPN. He can be reached at email@example.com.