April 7, 2014

McAnaney: Who's No. 1 Debate is Good For Lacrosse

by Eamon McAnaney | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | McAnaney Archive

Who's No. 1? Duke is putting together a monster resume, but for now, Loyola takes the spot by virtue of its head-to-head win over the Blue Devils in March. (John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com)

A healthy "Who's No. 1?" debate never hurt anybody. With Cornell losing and Loyola living dangerously close to the edge while Duke dominates, that's exactly what we have in college lacrosse.

I am a big "head-to-head" guy and even though the Blue Devils have won three straight games against Top 20 teams by a combined score of 53-25, I can't put them ahead of Loyola and Maryland, two one-loss teams that have wins over Duke on their resumes. That being said, though, if Duke and Loyola both win out, out the Blue Devils will be the top seed in the playoffs and there won't be much of a debate. John Danowski's club is building a ridiculous portfolio with Top 10 wins over No. 4 Denver, No. 5 UNC, No. 7 Syracuse and No. 8 Notre Dame.

Impact Games

Harvard 14 Cornell 9

Last week, Cornell head coach Matt Kerwick told me that Harvard attackman Devin Dwyer reminded him of Steele Stanwick and Rob Pannell. Kerwick then saw that ability right before his eyes as the sophomore had a goal to go along with three assists in the Crimson's first win over Cornell since 1998. What a homecoming for Ithaca native Gabriel Mendola as he won 20 of 26 face-offs for Harvard. You can say at 3-0 in the league Harvard is in the driver's seat to host the Ivy tournament, but with games against Penn, Princeton and Yale, that ride could be about as enjoyable as trying to get from Harvard Yard to the Mass Pike during rush hour. On the flip side, I am very curious to see how Cornell bounces back emotionally with two tough games this week against Syracuse on Tuesday and at Hofstra on Saturday.

Loyola 7 Navy 6 (2 OT)

This game would have had a bigger impact if the Midshipmen had pulled off the upset, but for Loyola a win is a win. I guess. Even though I stick with the Hounds as my number one team in the country something doesn't smell right on Charles St. When Loyola picked Duke apart many felt it was 2012 all over again, but since then the Greyhounds have been in tooth and nail battles in four of their last five. I know there is parity and "on any given day" but some of these matchups are games that a No. 1 team should dominate.

UNC 11, Virginia 10

The Tar Heels are a huge step closer to playing Friday night in the ACC tournament at PPL Park while the Cavaliers are now on the brink of the "showcase" game on Saturday night at 1-3 in the conference. Things do not get any easier for Dom Starsia's troops as they now prepare to host a red hot Duke team that has dominated Virginia under John Danowski. That being said I still like Virginia's chances - keep in mind that the Cavs are still sitting at the table with a royal flush-type win over Loyola in the opener.

Marquette 11, St. John's 10 (2OT)

This is one of those games that won't impact the Top 20 or the NCAA field, but when you take a look at the new programs in Division 1 you have to be impressed by the job Joe Amplo has done in Milwaukee. Wins over Hofstra, Rutgers and now St. John's in the same season give the former Hofstra defenseman and long-time assistant instant credibility to recruit in the fertile New York metropolitan area. More importantly for the Golden Eagles they are now in decent shape to make the Big East tournament and an extra week of practice with a chance to possibly play Denver for a second time could be invaluable for a program looking to get to the next level.

My Top 20

1 Loyola
2 Maryland
3 Duke
4 Denver
5 North Carolina
6 Cornell
7 Syracuse
8 Notre Dame
9 Virginia
10 Johns Hopkins
11 Fairfield
12 Penn
13 Yale
14 Hofstra
15 UMass
16 Bryant
17 Harvard
18 Princeton
19 Drexel
20 Lehigh

Eamon McAnaney is an ESPN lacrosse announcer and former Notre Dame lacrosse captain. Check back to LaxMagazine.com for more commentary throughout the college season. For a list of upcoming ESPN and other lacrosse broadcasts, visit LaxMagazine.com/TV.

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