College lacrosse’s first RPI rankings slot Syracuse #1, confirming that neither of SU’s standings in the major polls makes any sense.
Granted, we’ve recently seen a slew of events that fit the category “nonsensical.” This week, a thunderstorm obliterated the CNY region without warning, and over an hour later SU issued an alert for “severe weather with high winds and hail expected within minutes.” Add Jon Rothstein’s ass-timate (an estimate pulled from where the sun don’t shine) that Dion Waiters was 80 to 85 percent likely to leave Syracuse. Most extraordinarily, people actually spend their time watching Meatloaf battle Gary Busey (never a good sign when Lil’ Jon comes out of a situation looking like the sanest person involved).
Orange lacrosse’s #4 ranking in both the Nike/Inside Lacrosse Poll and the Coaches Poll is also impossible to rationalize. In the RPI, SU is #1, followed by Notre Dame, Cornell and Villanova. Yet in the polls, Notre Dame, Johns Hopkins, and Cornell all sit ahead of the Orange.
Undeniably, Notre Dame deserves its top spot. The Irish are Division I’s only remaining undefeated team, with a decent schedule to boot. At least the Orange has a chance to puncture perfection on Saturday night.
Cornell’s place ahead of the Orange is also justified – sort of. The Big Red is ranked second in the media poll and third in the Coaches poll. Cornell did beat Syracuse, but that’s just one game. Since when is so much emphasis placed on 60 minutes of action? Especially when you look closer and see that John Lade and Tim Desko were out with injuries, and Brian Megill took a shot to the head and missed the second half.
Syracuse has only lost once, while Cornell lost to Army and Virginia, two squads that Syracuse beat. The ‘Cuse owns the country’s top RPI (a calculation that places emphasis on strength of opponents), while Cornell sits in third. The voters ought to explain where exactly the Big Red holds an advantage over the Orange, besides in the head-to-head record category.
Still, it’s not completely unreasonable that Cornell places ahead of SU in the polls. If the Orange wanted more respect from the media, it should have taken care of its own business against Rob Pannell and Co.
The comparison between the ‘Cuse and Johns Hopkins, thoigh, is a different story. The Orange did take care of business against the Blue Jays, and yet Hopkins has the edge in the rankings. Other categories that favor the Orange: current Nike/Inside Lacrosse Top 20 teams faced (SU 7, Hopkins 5); RPI (SU 1st, Hopkins 6th); Overall freakin’ record (SU 12-1, Hopkins 10-2).
Now how does that make any sense? Seriously, someone enlighten me. What about Johns Hopkins’ season makes it more deserving of votes than Syracuse? It’s impossible to pinpoint anything. Even if you want to attack the fact that SU has played just two true road games this season, the Blue Jays’ schedule is also weighted toward home contests.
Luckily, the Orange has the ability to take matters into its own hands come Saturday. A win over the undefeated Fighting Irish would propel the Orange back into a tie for the best record in Division I, with head-to-head bragging rights over the nation’s current top team. It would also give John Desko’s squad victories over six of the top eight RPI teams (and remember SU is one of those eight).
You’d think the voters would give Syracuse its proper due for taking down Notre Dame. But even if the Orange can’t climb back atop the polls, a victory Saturday would put in it prime position to stage a return to the NCAA National Championship.
Posted: Andrew Kanell