Usual Suspects Migrate to Top of Nike/US Lacrosse Division I Men's Top 20


Justin Guterding scored six goals and surpassed 200 career points in Duke's latest dismantling of Virginia, which propelled the Blue Devils to No. 4 in this week's Nike/US Lacrosse Division I Top 20.

Will this season be remembered in 10 years for its parity, or a collection of usual suspects rising in time for postseason runs?

It’s a question worth pondering after a weekend that saw Army take its first loss since February and Hofstra absorb its first setback of the season. The much-improved Big Ten programs at Penn State and Rutgers couldn’t pull off victories against the league’s stalwarts (Johns Hopkins and Maryland, respectively). And in midweek action, Notre Dame (over Marquette) and Maryland (at Albany) survived tight games.

The top four with three weekends of play before Selection Sunday includes a pair of recent champions (Denver and Duke), a program with four Memorial Day appearances since 2011 (Maryland) and Syracuse, which qualifies as the outsider of the group (recently, anyway) with only one trip to the semifinals this decade.

In an unpredictable year, the usual suspects have migrated to the top of the Nike/US Lacrosse Division I Men’s Top 20 — just in time to restore order after a wild opening two months.

April 17, 2017




1 Syracuse 10-1 1 4/22 vs. Binghamton
2 Maryland 9-2 2 4/22 at No. 5 Ohio State
3 Denver 9-2 6 4/22 vs. No. 19 Providence
4 Duke 10-3 9 4/22 at Marquette
5 Ohio State 11-2 8 4/22 vs. No. 2 Maryland
6 Yale 8-3 11 4/22 at No. 7 Albany
7 Albany 9-2 7 4/19 vs. Binghamton
8 Penn State 10-2 5 4/23 vs. No. 15 Rutgers
9 Notre Dame 6-3 10 4/22 vs. No. 17 North Carolina
10 Hofstra 10-1 3 4/22 vs. UMass
11 Towson 7-3 13 4/22 at Fairfield
12 Johns Hopkins 7-4 14 4/22 vs. Michigan
13 Army 10-2 4 4/21 vs. Loyola
14 Princeton 8-4 12 4/22 vs. Harvard
15 Rutgers 9-3 15 4/23 at No. 8 Penn State
16 Richmond 10-2 18 4/22 at Air Force
17 North Carolina 6-6 16 4/22 at No. 9 Notre Dame
18 Villanova 7-5 NR 4/22 vs. St. John's
19 Providence 9-3 NR 4/22 at No. 3 Denver
20 Virginia 8-6 17 4/29 vs. Penn.
Also considered: Binghamton, Boston University, Brown, Loyola, Penn

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


Duke (+5)

As formulas for winning go, it’s tough to top both Jack Bruckner and Justin Guterding scoring six goals. The Blue Devils scored eight other times in their 20-11 victory over Virginia, the latest chapter in their domination of the Cavaliers.

Duke won’t see Virginia again this season, but anyone else in the ACC is fair game. The Blue Devils will be the No. 2 seed when they host the league tournament in two weekends, and have gone 8-1 since a couple early missteps.

Most importantly, Duke is getting better play from its goalie (Danny Fowler) and its defense over the last month. There’s a good case it is the strongest the Blue Devils have looked over an extended period at that end of the field since 2013, when they won the first of back-to-back national titles. It’s not far-fetched to think Duke will be in the mix for another one late next month.

Yale (+5)

The Bulldogs’ winning streak is at seven after running past Brown 18-12. Yale sealed home-field advantage in the Ivy League tournament with the triumph, and it gets a fantastic barometer game this weekend at Albany.

The Ivy just isn’t going to help Yale all that much when it comes to an at-large bid, but the Bulldogs (8-3, 5-0) are outscoring their league foes by an average of 5.4 goals. Behind Ben Reeves, they’ve hit double figures in every game during their winning streak. This is a dangerous bunch, and while it doesn’t have much hope of landing a home game in the postseason, it looks like a team no one will want any part of next month.


Army (-9)

The Black Knights took their first Patriot League loss, dominating the first 43 minutes before surrendering the final seven goals in a 10-6 loss to Navy.

Army does have one of (if not the) best victory on the board thanks to its February triumph at Syracuse. But that’s easily the best thing on the resume for Joe Alberici’s team. Still, it controls its own postseason destiny at this point; winning Friday against Loyola seals hosting duties for the Patriot tournament. One misstep in a rivalry game aside, the Black Knights remain the steadiest team in the league.

Hofstra (-7)

Consider this placement influenced by three factors. One, the Pride’s noteworthy victories (North Carolina and Princeton) were both diminished a bit last week. Two, Hofstra checked in at No. 9 in the NCAA lacrosse committee’s rankings (i.e. the ones that really matter).

Then there was the big development: A 13-12 loss to Drexel after the Dragons erased a six-goal deficit in the final 20 minutes. It is Hofstra’s first setback of the season and came in large part because Drexel buried three extra-man chances in the final seven minutes.

Hofstra is far from finished, but this is a bit of a correction prompted by more than just a single one-goal loss.


Villanova (No. 18)

The Wildcats (7-5, 3-1 Big East) yo-yoed their way back into the top 20 with a 17-12 triumph at struggling Georgetown. Jack Curran and Jake Froccaro had hat tricks and Christian Cuccinello added two goals and four assists as Villanova locked itself into the Big East tournament.

There might be too much working against the Wildcats to earn an at-large NCAA bid at this point, but they will be particularly dangerous while chasing an automatic berth. They have a sustained, well-cultivated identity and will score in bunches. They’ve hit double figures in every game, and that trend should continue this weekend against St. John’s.

Providence (No. 19)

Chris Gabrielli is deserving of some plaudits as the Friars are enjoying a breakout season. Providence improved to 3-0 in the Big East with its defeat of Marquette, and it now heads to Denver tied with the Pioneers atop the conference.

The caveats here are plain enough. The Friars are 9-3 but have beaten only two teams sporting a winning record in mid-April (Bryant and Marquette). Fair enough. They’re also considerably better than at any point since the Big East was formed as a lacrosse entity and holding opponents to 7.08 goals per game behind Tate Boyce (.612 save percentage). They’ve earned their turn in the top 20.


Loyola (was No. 19)

Back out go the Greyhounds, who lost in overtime at Boston University and simply haven’t been as good as anticipated this season after last year’s run to the NCAA semifinals.

For all the head-scratching over Loyola’s 7-5 record, it is a three-game winning streak away from the NCAA tournament. The Greyhounds visit Army on Friday; win that night, and they host the Patriot League tournament. Win that, and they hit the road for a first round game.

Outside of a triumph at Towson, Loyola hasn’t accomplished much this season. That could change by month’s end, but the Greyhounds have earned their plummet out of the top 20.

Marquette (was No. 20)

The Golden Eagles (6-5) won’t land a home game in this year’s NCAA tournament. Not after losing to Notre Dame by a goal and surely not after their setback at Providence a few days later.

Marquette was bound to have some struggles after the departure of a massive senior class that participated in the program’s opening years.  Its last three losses (Villanova, Notre Dame and Providence) have come by a combined four goals. It isn’t a bad team, and it may yet cause problems for Duke or Denver over the next two weekends.

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