No. 1 Duke, No. 2 Yale Top Nike/USL Division I Men's Top 20

PHOTO BY RICH BARNES

Two-time Tewaaraton finalist Ben Reeves leads a second-ranked Yale team whose only blemishes are a pair of overtime losses.


A Shakeup Sunday has delivered a new No. 1 — and there’s a solid case to be made for a couple teams.

After Yale pulverized Albany 14-6 and Maryland’s five-game winning streak ended with a 12-10 loss at home to Ohio State, there were a couple teams to make a case for.

One is Duke (12-2), now on its third four-game winning streak of the season after smashing Marquette on Friday. The Blue Devils would customarily have a chance to cement a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament with a pair of ACC tournament triumphs. That may still happen, but defeating Notre Dame and then the Syracuse/Virginia winner won’t help as much as in most seasons.

Meanwhile, Yale (11-2) took full advantage of its final nonconference date and dealt Albany its second loss. The Bulldogs have firmly established the last two weekends they are more than capable of dealing with up-tempo teams (they crushed Brown 27-15 on April 14).  And in keeping with the gritty reputation of Andy Shay’s program, Yale is 10-0 when it reaches double figures.

Either Duke or Yale works at No. 1 this week. And both are certain to be heard from in May.

Nike/US Lacrosse
Division I Men’s Top 20

 
April 23, 2018

W/L

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1 Duke 12-2 3 4/27 vs. No. 16 Notre Dame (ACC SF)
2 Yale 11-2 5 4/28 vs. Harvard
3 Denver 10-2 4 4/28 vs. Marquette
4 Albany 11-2 1 4/28 at Hartford
5 Maryland 10-2 2 4/28 at No. 7 Johns Hopkins
6 Loyola 10-3 6 4/27 vs. Lehigh/Colgate/Boston U. (PL SF)
7 Johns Hopkins 9-3 7 4/28 vs. No. 5 Maryland
8 Cornell 10-3 8 4/28 at Princeton
Rutgers 9-4 9 4/28 at No. 19 Ohio State
10 Navy 9-4 15 4/27 vs. No. 11 Bucknell/Lehigh/Colgate (PL SF)
11 Bucknell 11-3 11 4/24 vs. Boston U. (PL QF)
12 Syracuse 7-5 9 4/27 at No. 13 Virginia (ACC SF)
13 Virginia 10-4 14 4/27 vs. No. 2 Syracuse (ACC SF)
14 Penn State 8-5 12 4/28 vs. Michigan
15 Notre Dame 6-5 13 4/27 vs. No. 1 Duke (ACC SF)
16 Georgetown 9-4 16 4/28 at St. John's
17 Villanova 9-4 17 4/28 vs. Providence
18 UMass 9-4 18 4/27 vs. Hofstra
19 Ohio State 7-6 NR 4/28 vs. No. 9 Rutgers
20 North Carolina 7-7 NR Regular season complete
Also considered (alphabetical order): Lehigh, Penn, Princeton, Robert Morris, Saint Joseph's, Vermont






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

HOT

Navy (+5)

The Midshipmen ran their winning streak to five with a 13-12 victory at Syracuse on Joe Varello’s goal with 0.2 seconds remaining. A loss would have put Navy’s postseason hopes firmly in the win-the-Patriot-League tournament-or-else camp.

Now? It might still require it, but there’s at least a path to the playoffs that does not require two victories in three days. At least one is still necessary -— the Mids could potentially help their own cause and hurt Bucknell’s at the same time in a potential Patriot semifinal Friday.

Yale (+3)

No one could have asked for much more from the Bulldogs on Sunday. In eviscerating Albany 14-6, they controlled the X (Conor Mackie and his wings bested the Great Danes’ TD Ierlan, 13-8), pelted the cage (33 shots on goal), enjoyed great balance (Lucas Cotler, Matt Gaudet and Ben Reeves all scored three goals) and never trailed in a dominant performance.

Yale is the only team in Division I undefeated in regulation (11-0) and those setbacks to Villanova and Bucknell are the Bulldogs’ only losses. They’re closer to being undefeated than anyone and have scored at least 12 goals in seven of their last eight games. They’re as consistent as anyone in the country as the postseason approaches.

NOT

Albany (-3)

The Great Danes lost 14-6 at Yale. Not ideal, and it’s probably enough to knock Albany out of the chase for the No. 1 seed in next month’s NCAA tournament.

Albany has bigger problems, though. Attackman Connor Fields left the game with an apparent right knee injury, just two days after returning a right MCL sprain that cost him time during conference play. Coach Scott Marr told reporters Fields would undergo an MRI exam Monday.

The Great Danes’ uninspired loss at UMBC earlier this month made it clear they are a vastly different team without Fields. That’s hardly a surprise; he was a Tewaaraton finalist last year and was well on his way to repeating that feat this season. If Fields is done, Albany’s odds of a breakthrough trip to Memorial Day weekend will become a bit longer.

Maryland (-3)

The Terrapins would have moved up to No. 1 with a victory over Ohio State. Instead, Maryland wasn’t sharp at the start of either half and simply didn’t have the ball enough in the fourth quarter to maneuver its way into having a one-goal lead to protect late in the game.

The faceoff struggles are real in College Park. Freshman Justin Shockey was benched in the first half before a solid 6 of 12 showing after the break, but Maryland still lost 17 of 26 draws on the game. Since the start of Big Ten play, the Terps are a meager 37 of 101 (36.6 percent) at the X.

Coach John Tillman alluded to faceoff problems last year before Maryland settled into a routine of winning roughly half of its draws in the postseason against a stellar collection of FOGOs en route to a national title. But things are worse this time around; through four games of league play last year, Maryland was 54 of 113 (47.8 percent). Fixing the possession problem is as big a concern as any in College Park at the moment.

Syracuse (-3)

Live by the one-goal game, die by the one-goal game. If you put yourself in enough tight games, eventually someone else is going to make a play when it matters most. Saturday, it was Navy and faceoff man Joe Varello’s goal with 0.2 seconds left.

Two statistical nuggets on the Orange. One, Syracuse was 13-2 in one-goal games over the last two seasons prior to Saturday, a ridiculous and unsustainable run in games with such small margin for error. Two, the Orange is 3-5 in nonconference play. Fortunately for John Desko’s bunch, it gets a crack at the ACC tournament this weekend in Charlottesville.

IN

Ohio State

In the first five minutes of both halves on Sunday, Ohio State outscored Maryland 6-1. For the other 50 minutes of the game, the Terrapins held a 9-6 advantage. Credit to the Buckeyes for pouncing early and bringing more energy than Maryland could in its final home game of the regular season.

The 12 goals were the most for Ohio State in a game since Feb. 25, and they weren’t the byproduct of Tre Leclaire imposing his will on a game. Instead, Ohio State shared the ball well and took advantage of a healthy amount of possession. Even a middle-of-the-road offense will make Nick Myers’ team a handful the rest of the way, starting with Saturday’s meeting with Rutgers and perhaps carrying into the Big Ten tournament.

North Carolina

The good news: The Tar Heels’ seven-game losing streak is over. The bad news: Their season almost certainly is as well. North Carolina became the latest team to pick off Notre Dame, dealing the Irish a 10-9 loss as goalie Alex Bassil made 14 saves and Chris Cloutier scored the go-ahead goal on extra man with 3:53 to go.

The Tar Heels are 7-7, they were the odd team out of the ACC tournament and their RPI is hovering around 20. Slipping back into the rankings is appropriate for Joe Breschi’s team, but it appears North Carolina will miss the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006.

OUT

Lehigh (previously No. 19)

The Mountain Hawks have dropped three in a row heading into the Patriot League tournament and were defeated by the conference’s top three teams (Bucknell, Loyola and Navy) by an average of 5.3 goals. In fact, Lehigh beat only one team that enters the week above .500: Colgate.

In a related note, the Raiders visit Bethlehem for a Patriot quarterfinal. Barring a Boston University victory over Bucknell, the Colgate-Lehigh winner’s reward will be a date with top seed Loyola on Friday afternoon.

Penn (previously No. 20)

All the scheduling wizardry in the world won’t save a team if it can’t win enough games. The Quakers (7-7) may have torpedoed their NCAA tournament hopes with a midweek loss to Saint Joseph’s.

But at least the Hawks have won nine in a row. Penn probably played worse in Saturday’s 10-9 double-overtime victory at Dartmouth, which doubled as the Big Green’s 22nd consecutive Ivy League loss. Assuming Penn advances to the Ivy tournament, its postseason hopes will hinge on winning a semifinal; a defeat would leave the Quakers with a losing record.

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