It was only a matter of time.
No. 1 Albany finally lost, which meant a pair of top 3 defeats in the same week. When Maryland almost fell Sunday night, topping Penn State by just one goal, we almost saw a clean sweep of the elites.
Instead, we were given a new Inside Lacrosse Top 20 on Monday morning to dissect, obsess over and then totally turn upside down in the next seven days. Welcome to April.
Here's a look at the full poll:
And now, a few takeaways from this past week:
1. Our new overlords
Maryland has usurped Albany in the latest poll, a move that feels both transactional and probably correct, for the time being.
It feels transactional because, when the No. 1 team in the nation falls to an unranked team with a losing record, everyone expects them to fall, even if they're still the best team in the country. Albany might be the best lacrosse team in the country, even after its weird loss to people's champion UMBC. They score like no other squad, overpowering you with talent until you fall, helpless. Just ask Syracuse.
It also, however, feels correct — Maryland is playing great lacrosse right now against really good teams. The Terps held their ground against a hungry Penn State squad on Sunday night, and they also beat Michigan the previous week. That's a pair of Top 20 teams Maryland turned away. With the way Connor Kelly is playing (18 goals in his last four games), no defense in the nation is eager to face this Terps team. And another test is just around the corner: a matchup with hard-nosed No. 8 Rutgers.
If Maryland wins that game, they'll prove this No. 1 ranking wasn't merely because Albany lost: it's because it's the best around.
2. Are the Bison for real?
We have a story that went up on Bucknell this morning, because the Bison might be the hottest (not best, but hottest) team in the nation at the moment.
From that story:
Per Lacrosse Reference, just three players on Bucknell have factored into at least 10 percent of the team's plays this season. You guessed it: O'Hara, O'Brien, and Sands. They lead the team in points (Sands with 62, O'Hara with 37, O'Brien with 36). They dictate the way the Bison score, a methodical and patient brand of offense Fedorjaka says is by design. The Bison rank in the bottom half of the nation in time of possession, but Top 10 in offensive efficiency.
When you have three seniors who completely understand your system, you can afford to be selective with your offense.
It's the truth. No team wants to face the Bison. If they'd managed to top Penn on the road instead of losing with two seconds to play, Bucknell would be a top 10 team and the talk of every lacrosse fan.
Instead, they rest just outside the top 10 for the moment as the most dangerous squad in the country.
3. Biggest risers, biggest fallers
The biggest risers of the week both come from the Patriot League (don't sleep!). Navy re-enters the Top 20, which we'll call a four-spot jump, at No. 17. Bucknell, meanwhile, leaps three spots up to No. 11, just behind Patriot compatriot No. 10 Loyola.
The biggest fallers? Poor Villanova leads the plummet, dropping six spots after allowing 22 goals to Denver. Yale, losers to Bucknell in overtime, and Notre Dame, which only scored two goals against Duke in a second straight loss, both fells three spots.
4. Conference check-in
Things are looking pretty top-heavy as we start looking toward the end of the regular season.
Here’s the full rundown:
- Big Ten: 5 (Maryland, Rutgers, Johns Hopkins, Penn State, Michigan)
- ACC: 4 (Duke, Syracuse, Virginia, Notre Dame)
- Patriot: 4 (Loyola, Bucknell, Navy, Lehigh)
- Big East: 2 (Denver, Villanova)
- Ivy: 2 (Yale, Cornell)
- America East: 2 (Albany, Vermont)
- NEC: 1 (Robert Morris)
With UNC remaining on the outside looking in, the Big Ten reigns supreme once again as the only conference with five teams in the Top 20.
The Patriot’s addition of Navy in this week’s poll pulls it into a tie with the ACC in second place, including two in the top 11 in Loyola and red-hot Bucknell. Don’t sleep on the Patriot.
And, of course, Robert Morris continues to keep the NEC in the Top 20.
5. What to watch for this week
Tuesday, April 10
No. 7 Syracuse vs. No. 9 Cornell
If you need a full preview of the second-best game of the week, we've got you covered. Two-word preview: history, resumed.
Saturday, April 14
No. 9 Cornell vs. No. 18 Lehigh
Cornell's second marquee matchup of the week. The Big Red have scored 80 goals in their last four games. Good luck, opponents.
No. 5 Duke vs. No. 12 Virginia
Virginia has three losses, all to top 15 teams. To finish .500 against ranked teams, the Cavaliers need one here before meeting with No. 16 Vermont next week.
No. 4 Johns Hopkins vs. No. 14 Penn State
The Nittany Lions pushed Maryland to the edge on Sunday night. Do they have another big-time performance in them?
Sunday, April 15
No. 1 Maryland vs. No. 8 Rutgers
The best game of the week is the last game of the week. The new No. 1 vs. a Rutgers team that nearly beat JHU and thrashed Michigan. The stakes are high. This should be fun.