NCAA Men’s Power Rankings: Duke on Top, Maryland in the Hunt

A perfect February for Duke keeps them on top of the world ranked while Maryland welcomed Syracuse to the ACC with a beatdown at the Carrier Dome. Control of the face offs continues to be a deciding factor early on. Expect more shifting in the weeks ahead. We will start to see who sinks and swims as the spring approaches.

1. Duke (4-0)—Two wins over the weekend against Penn and Stony Brook see the Blue Devils perfect in February for the first time since 2008. Senior Josh Dionne become the 16th Blue Devils to record 100 career goals in Duke history. One spot that needs to improve is the inexperienced midfield. On Friday, Dionne, Jordan Wolf and Case Matheis were responsible for eight of the team’s nine goals. John Danowski has to get them going with conference play starting this weekend. They travel to Byrd Stadium on Saturday to take on Maryland

2. North Carolina (3-0)—The Tar Heels dismantled Dartmouth 18-5. Joey Sanky matched his career high with seven points on three goals and four assists. The team is shooting an efficient 35 per cent and is controlling possession at the face offs dot (63 percent). Notre Dame should provide a good challenge on both sides of the ball.

3. Maryland (3-0)—The Terps offense exploded for 10 goals in the second quarter to run away from Syracuse 16-8 in the first ACC game of the year. What allowed Maryland to take control was Charlie Raffa winning 19-of-26 face offs along with 11 ground balls. The freshmen have stepped up thus far while the veteran defense locks down the opposition to provide the youngsters to be creative. Maryland welcomes the defending champs Duke this weekend for a noon face off.

4. Virginia (4-0)—The Cavaliers handled Rutgers and Mount St. Mary’s without any dramatics. Mark Cockerton buried seven goals and has 18 this year. Along with James Pannell (15, 4), Owen Van Arsdale (6, 12) and Ryan Tucker (10, 2), Virginia’s starting six are a potent scoring force. Two areas to improve on are the man-down unit (surrendered 7-15) and Matt Barrett’s save percentage (48 percent). Syracuse this Saturday for their first conference showdown.

5. Denver (3-1)—Two wins over Marist and  Canisius by a combined 29-12 score. The offense is buzzing shooting about 39 percent with Jack Bobzien (12, 5) and Wesley Berg (11, 2) leading the way. Next is a trip to the city of brotherly love for a duel with the Quakers.

6. Syracuse (2-1)—Face offs continue to haunt the Orange and until they can solve this issue they will not win the national championship. Their goaltending has not been up to par while the defense was worn down early by the lack of possession. Nicky Galasso made his debut on the second midfield. This was the program’s worst loss since a 17-9 loss to John’s Hopkins in 2007. It does not get easier when they travel to Klöckner Stadium to take on Virginia this Saturday at 7:30.

7. Loyola (3-1)—The Greyhounds only allowed four goals against Towson and Holy Cross in convincing wins. Nikko Pontrello, Joe Fletcher, Jack Runkel and Brian Sherlock swept the Patriot League weekly awards. Conference play begins this weekend against Lehigh.

8. Penn State (2-1)—A well-earned 8-7 win for the Nittany Lions as they downed Notre Dame on the road. Since they are not eligible for the CAA AQ, every game is nearly crucial to their at-large quest. The two stars were goaltender Austin Kaut, who made 13 saves, and Shane Sturgis (5, 1), who is averaging 6.0 points per game. Ohio State is up next this Saturday.

9. Princeton (1-0)—Trailing 8-4 in the third quarter, the Tigers made a strong second half comeback to beat Hofstra 12-10 in their season opener. Mike MacDonald, Ryan Ambler and Thomas Schreiber contributed five points apiece. Yesterday, they earned a 14-8 win over Manhattan. Schreiber contributed a goal and four assists while Forest Sonnenfeldt and Tucker Shanley combined for five goals.

10. Notre Dame (1-1)—The inconsistent offense returned this weekend. Unable to crack Penn State’s zone for most of the day, Matt Kavanagh (five points) led a late comeback that just fell short. They return to action against North Carolina in their first ACC game.

11. Johns Hopkins (3-0)—A 14-5 win over Michigan was also Dave Pietramala’s 150th in his coaching career. Eleven different players scored for the Blue Jays. They have a litmus test this week against Princeton.

12. Yale (1-0)—An encouraging 10-6 win for the Bulldogs as they shut down the dangerous St John’s offense, holding them to under 30 shots. It was a team win with eight different goal scorers, control of the face off dot, and the defense locking down most of the Red Storm’s big guns.

13. Lehigh (4-0)—The Mountainhawks opened Patriot League play with a 10-7 win over newcomer Boston University. Good test coming up with Loyola next on the docket.

14. UMass (3-0)—Greg Cannella’s defense shut down their in-state rivals Harvard and came out with an 8-4 win. They caused 12 turnovers while Zach Oliveri stopped 14 shots and Joe Calvello won 11 of his 16 face offs and scooped up 10 groundballs.

15. Ohio State (1-2)—Finally the Buckeyes find the win column after taking down Marquette. Jesse King had another strong day with six points. Freshman Jake Withers won 14-of-26 draws, grabbed 11 groundballs, earning him conference co-rookie of the week honors. Another ranked opponent comes to campus in Penn State this weekend.

16. Villanova (1-1)—What a win for the Wildcats as they downed the Dragons 11-10 in overtime thanks to Austin Frederick’s game winner. They showed adversity against Drexel. Not only did they battle back to tie it on five separate occasions, but five of their main contributors were out with injury.

17. Drexel (1-2)—What cost the Dragons the game against Villanova was their inability to bury their opposition. They were 2-8 on the EMO, turned the ball over seven times in the fourth quarter while holding a two goal lead, and missed their chances in overtime.

18. Cornell (1-0)—Face off man Doug Tesoriero won 20-24 draws, 14 groundballs, and chipped in two assists, as the Big Red came back to beat Hobart 12-8 on Saturday. On Tuesday, it was Dan Litner this time who led the way with six goals in Cornell’s 14-8 win over Binghamton.

19. Penn (0-1)—A telling stat in the Quakers loss to Duke was their lack of finish. Penn shot 6-33 with three goals coming on the extra man. They bounced back on Tuesday with a convincing 14-4 win over St. Joes. Penn went on a 9-0 while holding their local rival scoreless for 37:33 during that span.

20. Albany (0-2)—Tough game for the Great Danes as they fell in another one-goal overtime affair. Blaze Riorden made 17 saves, which should have been enough for the win. But the offense missed a few shots while the man-down defense allowed two goals on three chances.