Yale the New No. 1, Ohio State and Notre Dame Surge in Nike/USL Top 20

PHOTO BY RICH BARNES

Senior midfielder Tyler Warner and top-ranked Yale completed a perfect run through the Ivy League regular season by thumping Harvard.


Now Yale gets its turn at No. 1.

The Bulldogs capped their perfect run through the Ivy League’s regular season since 1956 with a 16-8 thumping of Harvard on Saturday. Coupled with Duke’s loss to Notre Dame in the ACC tournament, it leads to yet another shuffling of the top spot in the Nike/US Lacrosse Division I Men’s Top 20.

Can Yale remain at No. 1 heading into the NCAA tournament? Chances are good. The Bulldogs have won five of the last six Ivy League tournaments. They’ll first have to get past 7-7 Penn on Friday in New York, with Cornell (which is coming off a loss at Princeton) and Brown meeting in the other semifinal.

Regardless of this weekend, Andy Shay’s team — with some star power in attackman Ben Reeves, a capable offense beyond him, a miserly defense and a strong faceoff man in Conor Mackie — is well-positioned to earn a home game in the first round of the NCAA tournament and be a threat to play deep into May.

Nike/US Lacrosse
Division I Men’s Top 20

 
April 30, 2018

W/L

Prev

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1 Yale 12-2 2 5/3 vs. Penn
2 Duke 12-3 1 5/6 vs. Boston University
3 Maryland 11-2 5 5/3 vs. No. 12 Rutgers
4 Denver 11-2 3 5/3 vs. Marquette
5 Albany 12-2 4 5/3 vs. UMass Lowell
6 Loyola 12-3 6 Regular season complete
7 Johns Hopkins 9-4 7 5/3 vs. No. 11 Ohio State
8 Notre Dame 8-5 15 5/5 vs. Army
Cornell 10-4 8 5/3 vs. Brown
10 Virginia 11-5 13 5/1 vs. VMI
11 Ohio State 8-6 19 5/3 vs. No. 7 Johns Hopkins
12 Rutgers 9-5 9 5/3 vs. No. 3 Maryland
13 Navy 9-5 10 Regular season complete
14 Syracuse 7-6 12 5/5 vs. Colgate
15 Bucknell 11-4 11 Regular season complete
16 Georgetown 10-4 16 5/3 at No. 17 Villanova
17 Villanova 10-4 17 5/3 vs. No. 16 Georgetown
18 UMass 10-4 18 5/3 vs. Hofstra
19 Penn State 8-6 14 Regular season complete
20 North Carolina 7-7 20 Regular season complete
Also considered (alphabetical order): Lehigh, Michigan, Penn, Princeton, 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

Ohio State (+8)

Here come the Buckeyes. Ohio State is surging at just the right time, following up its upset of Maryland with a 10-7 defeat of Rutgers on Saturday to secure a place in the Big Ten tournament. The Buckeyes, who are seeking back-to-back NCAA tournament bids for the first time since 2003-04, suddenly have a little meat on their resume.

The problem for Ohio State was almost never its defense. With an offense that’s reached double figures three of the last four weeks, the Buckeyes are a threat not just to knock off Johns Hopkins in the Big Ten semifinals, but to win the league’s automatic bid this week.

Notre Dame (+7)

So, about the possibility the Fighting Irish would miss the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2005 … it will have to wait for another year. Notre Dame would have faced a true must-win this weekend had it flamed out of the ACC tournament in the semifinals. Instead, the Irish handled Duke and walloped Virginia to effectively lock up a home game to open the postseason.

The truly startling part of Notre Dame’s weekend was the emergence of an explosive offense. The Irish hadn’t scored more than 12 goals all season prior to Friday, and had coaxed just 26 goals in four games against ACC does. But they dropped 14 on Duke and 17 on Virginia and suddenly look a lot more dangerous than they did a week ago.

Virginia (+3)

Simply put, the Cavaliers needed a victory like Friday’s 11-10 defeat of Syracuse. It wasn’t so much that it was a victory over an ACC team — Virginia got one of those earlier in the month at North Carolina — but that it was a close victory over a likely postseason team that has a habit of squeezing out improbable triumphs in tight contests.

Now, Sunday didn’t go so well for the Cavaliers — there’s no nice way to spin the 17-7 loss to Notre Dame, even with the Irish playing at a high level — but their weekend split (coupled with a victory Tuesday over VMI) should be enough to get them back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2015 barring massive conference tournament chaos elsewhere.

NOT

Penn State (-5)

The Nittany Lions had to feel pretty good about their prospects for May when they defeated Johns Hopkins on April 14. But if a loss to Rutgers the next time up was a stumble, Saturday’s 10-9 overtime defeat against Michigan was a face plant.

It’s not that Michigan isn’t improved under first-year coach Kevin Conry; the Wolverines were a week removed from nearly knocking off Hopkins themselves. It’s that Penn State needed a victory to assure itself a spot in the Big Ten tournament, and it couldn’t deliver. The Nittany Lions appear likely to miss the NCAA tournament for the fourth time in five years.

Bucknell (-4)

The Bison had a chance to be a real problem over the weekend at the Patriot League tournament — at least until they lost to Boston University in a quarterfinal at home. Bucknell still holds a pair of impressive road victories (Loyola and Yale), but its surprising conference tournament setback could very well cost it an NCAA tournament berth.

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