B1G Things Happening in Nike/US Lacrosse Division I Men's Top 20


Ryan Keenan scored in Penn State's 9-8 win over Fairfield on Friday that moved the No. 1 Nittany Lions to 8-0, the best start in school history.

It’s been a weird winter — and it’s anyone’s idea how the spring is going to turn out.

As the seasons change this week, only four undefeated teams remain in Division I. None reached the NCAA tournament last year. None has ever advanced to the NCAA tournament semifinals.

It’s an unusual contingent — Hofstra, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers, all programs that have had moments over the years but none that could be described as bluebloods. Yet with such unpredictability from week to week, all of them have earned a place in the top five of the Nike/US Lacrosse Division I Men’s Top 20 at roughly the midpoint of the regular season. That three of them are Big Ten teams not named Maryland or Johns Hopkins speaks to the strength of the conference, which also boasts Michigan to give it six teams in the top 20.

Whether any of them end up there in early May is anyone’s guess. And considering the wacky winter, it’s unlikely anyone has a good answer for that question.

March 20, 2017




1 Penn State 8-0 1 3/25 vs. Cleveland State
2 Notre Dame 4-1 3 3/25 vs. No. 3 Ohio State
3 Ohio State 9-0 18 3/25 at No. 2 Notre Dame
4 Rutgers 8-0 5 3/25 at Delaware
5 Hofstra 6-0 6 3/21 vs. Stony Brook
6 Army 7-1 7 3/25 vs. Colgate
7 Syracuse 5-1 8 3/25 vs. No. 10 Duke
8 Denver 5-2 2 3/25 at No. 14 Towson
9 Maryland 4-2 4 3/25 at No. 18 North Carolina
10 Duke 7-2 17 3/25 at No. 7 Syracuse
11 Princeton 5-2 9 3/24 vs. Yale
12 Richmond 7-1 NR 3/25 at High Point
13 Albany 4-1 14 3/21 at Canisius
14 Towson 4-2 11 3/25 vs. No. 8 Denver
15 Virginia 5-3 12 3/25 at No. 16 Johns Hopkins
16 Johns Hopkins 4-3 13 3/25 vs. No. 15 Virginia
17 Michigan 7-1 15 3/25 vs. UMBC
18 North Carolina 5-3 10 3/25 vs. No. 9 Maryland
19 Loyola 4-3 19 3/22 vs. Georgetown
20 Marquette 3-2 NR 3/25 at Georgetown
Also considered: Air Force, Binghamton, Boston University, Delaware, Penn, Villanova, Yale

Nike/US Lacrosse Rankings
Division I Men | Division I Women
Division II Men | Division II Women
Division III Men | Division III Women


Ohio State (+15)

The Buckeyes were a shiny 7-0 entering the week, and there was a case that their undefeated record alone warranted more attention than it was receiving. But aside from a 12-6 triumph at Marquette, there wasn’t that much substance to Ohio State’s accomplishments.

That changed considerably in the last week.

The Buckeyes were due a bump thanks to Wednesday’s 6-3 triumph at Towson, a quintessential grind-it-out game played in a veritable freezer. Six different Buckeyes scored, and Ohio State never trailed in bagging its most impressive victory to date.

Sunday’s 16-7 pummeling of Denver was even more impressive. Working off a short week (Ohio State bused back to Columbus from the Baltimore area on Wednesday), the Buckeyes dominated Bill Tierney’s Pioneers behind five goals from Tre Leclaire and three each from Eric Fannell and Johnny Pearson.

Ohio State is a more poised bunch than a season ago, and given the course of the program of late (NCAA quarterfinalists in 2013 and 2015, no postseason appearances in 2014 and 2016), it appears it will again thrive in an odd-numbered year.

Duke (+7)

After a couple missteps in February, Duke is on a roll as it enters its ACC schedule. Wait, when have we heard this one before?

The Blue Devils took a pair of games last week, including a Monday date against Jacksonville that vaulted John Danowski past Dom Starsia for first on the all-time coaching victories list. Then came a 12-7 triumph at Georgetown to extend the Blue Devils’ winning streak to five.

The names on offense are familiar enough; Justin Guterding (25 goals, 21 assists) and Jack Bruckner (21 goals, 11 assists) are the major force. But the difference for Duke this season compared to the last two years is a defense that is only yielding 7.56 goal per game and has only let two opponents (Air Force and Denver) reach double figures. That unit will get a fine test Saturday at Syracuse.


North Carolina (-8)

So who are these guys, really? The team that went to Denver and won earlier this month or the bunch that dropped three consecutive home games before breaking out for a 17-6 rout of Dartmouth on Saturday?

Despite the back-to-back losses to Hofstra and Richmond — both of which rightfully find themselves ahead of the Tar Heels in this week’s rankings — would it come as any surprise if the defending champions beat Maryland and Duke the next couple weekends? That would fit with the inconsistency Joe Breschi’s team has often shown (outside of last May, of course).

One of the big questions for the Tar Heels is their shooting. Prior to Saturday’s blowout, North Carolina was shooting just 26.6 percent, barely better than its opponents’ 26.3 percent rate. Without better offensive efficiency against capable opponents, the Tar Heels are going to be vulnerable.

Denver (-6)

Ran into a buzzsaw in Columbus, plain and simple. The Pioneers scored just once in the first 42 minutes at Ohio State, spotting the Buckeyes a 10-goal lead in what became a 16-7 setback.

That’s two losses in three weeks for the Pioneers, who wrap up nonconference play at Towson on Saturday. But Denver still owns victories over Duke and Notre Dame, and those will provide a strong foundation for an at-large bid should the Pioneers not win the Big East tournament in May.

Maryland (-5)

For much of Saturday’s game against Villanova, Maryland looked like a team that hadn’t played in a couple weeks. Which, of course, is exactly what it was after its March 11 game at Albany was postponed.

The Terrapins warrant credit for erasing a four-goal deficit in the fourth quarter, with Matt Rambo scoring three times before Tim Rotanz forced overtime with a goal in the final minute. But Villanova managed to escape with a 13-12 triumph and deal Maryland its first loss in College Park since the 2015 Big Ten tournament.

This constitutes a minor tumble for Maryland, which will face current top-20 teams in each of its final seven regular-season games. There are still plenty of chances for the Terps to climb back toward the top in this unusual year.


Richmond (No. 12)

The Spiders rallied from two goals down in the fourth quarter to bag a 6-5 victory at North Carolina on Monday, and followed up with a 13-6 triumph at Jacksonville over the weekend. The Spiders are 7-1, with the lone loss coming against Duke. They now have a road victory over the defending national champions to pair with an early defeat of Marquette.

This is a fundamentally solid team, even if it got a bit turnover-happy (19) in miserable conditions against North Carolina. Peter Moran has taken every draw for Richmond this season, winning 59.8 percent of them. Goalie Benny Pugh has a 67.8 save percentage. And the Spiders are yielding only 5.57 goals per game (while limiting foes to 19.5 percent shooting).

In short, this isn’t going to be a fun team for anyone to deal with between now and the end of the season.

Marquette (No. 20)

Someone has to be No. 20, and the Golden Eagles (with losses to Ohio State and Richmond) have a decent case for it after an idle weekend. They’ll head into Big East play on Saturday with a trip to Georgetown.


Penn (was No. 16)

Despite its blowout loss at home against Princeton in the Ivy League opener, there’s an argument to keep Penn in the Top 20. The Quakers still own a victory over Virginia, but have dropped three games this month (Penn State, Michigan and Princeton) to postseason contenders.

Like nearly everyone else in the Ivy (with the possible exception of Princeton), Penn’s postseason hopes are likely to be defined by what it accomplishes inside the league. A 17-8 loss to Matt Madalon’s Tigers wasn’t a great start, but the Quakers are still capable of stitching together a solid resume prior to the conference tournament.

Boston University (was No. 20)

The Terriers’ 7-0 start was suddenly halted by Bucknell, which entered the weekend alone at the bottom of the Patriot League but earned a 12-6 victory in Boston.

Boston University’s loss leaves Army and Loyola as the only remaining undefeated teams in Patriot League play, but the Terriers still have to face both of those contenders and should have a say in how the Patriot race unfolds over the next month.

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