NCAA Power Rankings: Loyola Stays On Top

1) Loyola (11-1)—The latest win over Boston University bumps Loyola to 11-1 and 7-0 in the conference. One more tune up tomorrow against Bucknell before the Patriot League tournament gets underway. Johns Hopkins will be waiting for the Greyhounds on Selection Sunday.

2) Duke (11-2)—I personally feel that Duke is currently the best team in the nation but must remain second due to the tiebreaker with Loyola. This past Saturday saw Duke win its 14th in the last 15 meetings with the Cavaliers. The victory gives the Blue Devils at least a share of the ACC regular season championship.

3) Denver (10-2)—The Pioneers keep on trekking with seven straight wins. Their offensive efficiency is great (shooting 39 percent and converting 40 percent on man-up) and defense has stepped up during the streak. Saturday they beat St Johns 16-9 with Jeremy Noble notching a five-point day. Denver is almost a lock at this point should they not stagger the rest of April.

4) Syracuse (8-3)—The first meeting between these two squads since 1994 turned into a thriller at the Dome. Senior Billy Ward scored with 2:57 left in the second overtime after tying the game with 8.4 seconds left thanks to classmate Kevin Rice.

5) Johns Hopkins (8-3)—Easily the Blue Jays best game of the season thus far. They played well on both sides of the ball and capitalized on their possessions despite only winning 6-of-21 faceoffs. Wells Stanwick had three goals and four points while goaltender Eric Schneider made 12 stops. On Monday, they conquered The Mount 17-2, sending 57 shots towards Chris Klaiber in the crease.

6) North Carolina (9-3)—This one will sting for UNC as they allowed Syracuse back into the game (outscored 8-4 in the second half) and could not end it when they had the ball. Jimmy Bitter and Chad Tutton combined for seven goals while Kieran Burke was excellent stopping 14 shots. All three losses have been one goal affairs to ACC opponents. With the tiebreakers to Syracuse and Notre Dame, UNC will likely miss the ACC Tournament.

7) Maryland (9-2)—The Terps have looked troubling in their two losses this year. Their offense has looked lethargic while the defense has been breached against UNC & Johns Hopkins potent scorers. Maryland is still an ACC and NCAA favorite with the postseason close, but it would be a shame if lack of scoring sinks them again.

8) Notre Dame (6-4)—Back-to-back wins over Marquette and Robert Morris have shown the good side of Notre Dame’s offense when everything is clicking. In order to win the ACC or snag an at-large bid, the Irish must continue to receive contributions from everyone. With Maryland, the ACC Tournament, and Army remaining, the Irish control their own destiny.

9) Penn (6-3)—Another great win for the Quakers. Trailing 7-5 midway through the fourth quarter, Penn defended two man-down situations, found a goal shortly after, and tied it up with just 13 remaining. It would be the freshman Kevin Brown who scored the game-winning goal, one he and his team will remember. A win against Dartmouth and a Princeton loss ensures their spot in the Ivy League tournament.

10) Virginia (8-5)—The Cavaliers will not be in the ACC Tournament following Saturday’s 17-15 loss to Duke (again). That makes it three straight conference losses for Dom Starsia’s team who will finish their season against Bellarmine and await the committee’s decision.

11) Hofstra (9-3)—Since starting the season 0-2, the Pride have won 9 of 10. Saturday’s tilt against Cornell saw Hofstra surrender a 7-4 lead to start the fourth quarter and still found a way to win in overtime. Depth could become an issue in the postseason, but the starters have provided great balance with threats all over. Rivalry week as the Pride travel to Garber Field to take on UMass.

12) Cornell (9-3)—A potential top-four seed in the NCAA was tossed out the window with three straight losses last week. Now the Big Red’s at-large chances are a bubble team at best, especially with Virginia in a similar boat. Inconsistent offense was the main culprit as Harvard, Syracuse and Hofstra limited or shutdown Cornell’s top threats. Crucial games with Yale and Princeton approach as the team must on winning the Ivy League.

13) Yale (7-3)—Another tight game but the Bulldogs came on the right end of this one as they defeated Brown 7-6 in overtime. Going 3-6 on the extra-man certainly help, as did Eric Natale’s 10 saves. As long as Yale wins out, their spot in the Ivy Tournament is secure while their at-large bid chances remain good.

14) Princeton (7-4)—A 13-10 win over Dartmouth was Princeton’s third straight since dropping two one-goal losses to Yale and Brown. The offense remains one of the most dynamic units in the nation (12.55 goals per game, 57 percent on man-up) while the defense has tried to solve their issues. It is gut-check time as the Tigers must win out to make their conference tournament. A loss to Harvard or Cornell will keep them out of the Ivy and likely the NCAA tournament.

15) Bryant (10-3)—The Bulldogs have three games in seven days starting this Saturday against Robert Morris. With their loss to Saint Joseph’s, Bryant is likely the second seed in the NEC conference tournament. Five different scorers have 20-plus points with Shane Morrell leading with 30.

16) Army (8-3)—The Black Knights dispatched Navy 14-7 in front of over 10,000 fans at Michie Stadium. The Cadets have the nation’s best defense and have yet to yield double digit goals. If they do not get the automatic bid, there is one more chance with Notre Dame on Selection Sunday.

17) Fairfield (10-3)—The Stags momentum was grounded after Air Force dispatched them over the weekend 16-8. Fairfield regroup against Quinnipiac on Tuesday and will play Ohio State this weekend to determine the second seed in the ECAC Tournament.

18) Drexel (8-4)—Since their loss to Hofstra, the Dragons have won four straight. Beating UMass and sitting at 3-1 puts them in a good spot to host a CAA Tournament game. Ben McIntosh (34 G, 10 A) and Nick Triziano (29 G, 11 A) continue to be two of the most underrated scorers in the nation.

19) Lehigh (10-4)—Following a month of trading wins and losses, the Mountainhawks have won four of their last five. They just fell to Princeton in overtime but put down Georgetown 12-3. They are set for the Patriot League Tournament but will have to play a first round game. Lafayette will be a tune-up this weekend.

20) UMass (7-4)—With Saturday’s defeat at Drexel, the Minutemen have now lost three of their last four games. They tallied 19 total goals in those three defeats. This weekend’s tilt against Hofstra is a must win to avoid a potential play-in with Delaware for the final spot in the CAA Tournament.

Honorable Mentions

Air Force (8-3)—Winners of seven of their last eight, including the latest, a beat down of Fairfield 16-8. The offense averages more than 12 goals per game and is led by Mike Crampton (33 G, 16 A), Tommy McKee (25 G, 8 A) and a host of other contributors.