Commentary

Top teams shake up after big games

Conference tournaments, intense matchups give the Power Rankings a jumble

Updated: April 27, 2009, 12:28 PM ET
By Quint Kessenich | ESPN.com

The intensity was turned up a notch over the weekend: 30,192 fans turned out in Columbus, Ohio to watch Ohio State fall to undefeated Notre Dame (though it should be noted that the lacrosse game was directly followed by the Buckeyes' spring football game). Brown ambushed Cornell in the Ivy League, while Navy captured the Patriot League automatic qualifier.

The regular season concludes this week. NCAA automatic qualifiers will be earned in the CAA, America East, MAAC, ECAC, Great Western Lacrosse League and Ivy League. The selection of 16 teams this year will be easy … the seeding and bracketing a much more difficult exercise for the selection committee. The NCAA selection show airs Sunday night at 9 p.m. on ESPNU with the announcement of the 16-team Division I bracket.

Quint's Power Rankings

1. Syracuse Syracuse
Record: 11-2
Previous ranking: 2
The Orange throttled UMass, holding their rivals to a mere three goals Saturday. Syracuse is a lock for a top-four seed in the NCAA tournament.

2. Princeton Princeton
Record: 11-2
Previous ranking: 4
The Tigers toasted Dartmouth 14-7 on a scorching Saturday. The orange and black host Brown on Saturday.

3. Virginia Virginia
Record: 13-2
Previous ranking: 1
Virginia was trounced by Duke 16-5 on Friday night. The Cavaliers' ambitious February schedule is coming back to haunt them. They have not improved one iota since March 1. The offense is stagnant and relying on isolations from Danny Glading and Shamel Bratton, while the defense has been stuck in ball-watching mode all year. A major tactical overhaul might be needed in Charlottesville. The Wahoos have a bye this weekend and will host a first-round NCAA tournament game May 9 or 10 at Klöckner Stadium.

4. Cornell Cornell
Record: 9-3
Previous ranking: 3
Typical 2009 result here: A week after beating Princeton at home in an emotionally charged game, the Big Red floundered and fell to Brown on the road. Cornell has wins over Princeton and Duke and a strong strength of schedule, which guarantees them a top-eight seed and first-round game at home May 9 or 10. The Big Red wrap up their regular season this week against Hobart.

5. Duke Duke
Record: 12-3
Previous ranking: 6
The Blue Devils beat Virginia in the semifinal rematch Friday night, pounding the Cavaliers 16-5 behind another stellar performance from Ned Crotty. Crotty is my choice for the Tewaaraton Trophy right now. Duke took care of North Carolina on Sunday in the ACC final behind CJ Costabile. The Blue Devils are NCAA tournament-ready, and John Danowski has proved once again that he can flat-out coach. Duke might be the most improved team in the country since March 1.

6. Notre Dame Notre Dame
Record: 13-0
Previous ranking: 5
The Irish beat Ohio State 14-8 in The Horseshoe in front of 30,192 fans Saturday. Notre Dame plays in the GWLL semifinals Friday. It clinched an NCAA bid with wins over North Carolina, Bucknell and Loyola, but it'll be interesting to see where the Irish are slotted in the bracket. How will their poor strength of schedule impact seeding?

7. North Carolina UNC
Record: 11-5
Previous ranking: 7
North Carolina took down Maryland on Friday night 16-10, ending the Tar Heels' ACC losing streak and stamping their ticket to the postseason. They lost to Duke on Sunday afternoon in the ACC final. Carolina's offense is peaking at the right time with Billy Bitter, Sean Delaney, Ben Hunt and Bart Wagner.

8. Johns Hopkins JHU
Record: 7-4
Previous ranking: 8
Hopkins was nearly beat Wednesday night at Towson; the Tigers led by three goals late in the game but the Blue Jays rallied with Michael Kimmel and Brian Christopher as the difference-makers, winning 11-10 in two overtimes. Kimmel was a one-man band, isolating and distributing the ball effectively. He has quietly put up monster numbers again this season. Hopkins hosts Loyola on Saturday afternoon (ESPNU, 1 p.m. ET).

9. Hofstra Hofstra
Record: 11-2
Previous ranking: 9
The Pride face Villanova in the CAA semifinals Wednesday at 7 p.m., just a few days after controlling the Wildcats in a 10-3 win. Hofstra beat Stony Brook 12-11 on Tuesday, once again prevailing by a single tally. Hofstra has likely earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament with wins over Princeton, UMass and Brown.

10. Brown
Brown
Record: 12-2
Previous ranking: 14
The Bears upset Cornell 11-9 on Saturday and now have to be considered in all NCAA bracketology discussions. Brown will benefit from the excellent season the entire Ivy League had in 2009. Brown finishes up its regular season at Princeton on Saturday; a win would give the Bears the Ivy League AQ, while a Princeton win would give Cornell the league's bid. Reade Seligmann scored a critical goal with 4:48 to go, and Andrew Feinberg was involved in five goals. Jordan Burke made 18 saves for Brown.

11. UMBC UMBC
Record: 10-3
Previous ranking: 11
Seniors Alex Hopmann, Ryan Smith, Eric Gurnsey and Jeremy Blevins all made major contributions as the Retrievers steamrolled Vermont 18-5 on a hot day in Catonsville, Md., on Saturday. UMBC hosts Binghamton this week in the America East semifinals.

12. Navy Navy
Record: 11-4
Previous ranking: 12
A clutch win Friday by the Midshipmen in the Patriot League semifinal, prevailing 9-8 in three overtimes against Colgate. Navy clinched the league AQ on Sunday, beating Bucknell on the road. Navy will be unseeded in the tournament and will most likely play a Southern school due to geography (Hopkins, Virginia, Duke or North Carolina).

13. UMass UMass
Record: 8-5
Previous ranking: 16
The Minutemen won a midweek conference game against Fairfield 12-6 on Tuesday and then suffered a power outage against Syracuse on Saturday, scoring only three goals in defeat. UMass is at Rutgers on Saturday; if they win, they're the ECAC champs and receive the league's AQ.

14. Loyola Loyola (Md.)
Record: 9-4
Previous ranking: 10
The Greyhounds dusted Hobart 16-7 on Saturday behind Colin Finnerty's four goals. Eric Lusby and D.J. Comer both scored three times as Loyola clinched a tie with UMass for the ECAC top spot. Loyola needs Rutgers to upset UMass next week to be assured an AQ. Loyola's other path to the big dance is to beat Johns Hopkins on Saturday. The crosstown rivals square off with an NCAA bid on the line for Loyola.

15. Maryland Maryland
Record: 8-6
Previous ranking: 13
Terps finish up the regular season at Yale on Saturday. They are on the NCAA tournament fringe with wins over North Carolina and Duke but losses to Virginia, North Carolina, Hopkins, UMBC, Navy and Georgetown. I see Maryland earning one of the last remaining at-large bids. Maryland fans will be rooting against chaos in the conference tournaments this weekend -- the Terps will be pulling for Hofstra, UMBC and Notre Dame to hold serve and win AQs.

16. Georgetown Georgetown
Record: 7-6
Previous ranking: 15
Georgetown topped Rutgers 15-7 as David Shriver scored his first career goal. Looks like the Hoyas will miss the NCAA tournament for consecutive seasons. A year ago, Penn State shocked Georgetown in the season finale; this year, the Hoyas will be fired up for revenge.

17. Bucknell Bucknell
Record: 9-7
Previous ranking: 17
The Bison scored a workmanlike win over Army 10-8 in the Patriot League semifinals but lost to Navy on Sunday. Bucknell's résumé is borderline; I'd be surprised if the Bison get an NCAA at-large bid, as their only real wins are against Patriot League opponents.

18. Harvard Harvard
Record: 7-5
Previous ranking: 18
The Crimson rolled over Yale 13-8 on Saturday and appear to be a program on the rise with coach John Tillman.

19. Colgate Colgate
Record: 9-5
Previous ranking: 19
The Red Raiders lost to Navy in three overtimes in the Patriot League semifinals and will need to beat Syracuse this week to be included in the NCAA tournament conversation as an at-large selection. Brandon Corp might be the best player in the country, but he's down to his final lifeline. I'm not sure you can win the Tewaaraton Trophy when your team fails to make the NCAA tournament.

20. Albany Albany
Record: 7-6
Previous ranking: Not ranked
The Great Danes will give UMBC and the rest of the America East everything they can handle in the league tourney.

Quint Kessenich covers college and professional lacrosse for ESPN. He can be reached at quint@insidelacrosse.com.

Quint Kessenich covers college and professional lacrosse for ESPN.