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Duke on top again -- Weekly DI men's rankings

In this week's RRRR rankings, Duke took back sole possession of the No. 1 spot. Virginia is back in a more realistic position while Maryland is a bit overrated now. The Terps could lose to Navy or Hopkins in the games to come. North Carolina looked great at the Hop this week. They play Virginia next week for that No. 3 spot.

Notre Dame can stay here at No. 4 if they don't lose. With Air Force, Denver, Quinnipiac, Lehigh and Ohio State remaining, a loss will take them down substantially.

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Virginia only beat Syracuse by one. But the 'Cuse hasn't played anyone above them and won't until the tournament. The Orange are somewhat stranded, even with a stack of wins. They have already achieved what they needed to this year, after the 2007 disappointment. They will likely lose one more game (to Cornell) and get a good seed in the tournament.

The breaks from 6--14 are not very strong. It's because these teams can all beat each other. Syracuse beat the Hoyas by one, who beat Navy by one, who lost to Cornell by one, who beat Army by one. Hopkins beat UMBC by two. If Hopkins loses to Maryland after losing to Duke, they may drag UMBC down in the polls, whereas the two-point win over the Retrievers reflected on Hopkins poorly a few weeks ago.

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Drexel's only losses have come to much higher-ranked teams, in Virginia and Notre Dame. The Dragons have no one higher left to play. They may be stranded, but they are this good. I personally like them to win the CAA, but they SHOULD get in even if Delaware takes the conference tournament. I cannot see anyone else contending in the CAA now.

There are two teams wreaking havoc with every ranking process. They are UMass and Siena. UMass beat Hofstra, who beat Hopkins. But the Minutemen also lost to Yale, Harvard, Brown and Sacred Heart. They lost to Loyola at home 15-1. They beat Hofstra 8-4. The game was played early in the season, but it was not even close. They are the reason Hofstra cannot climb higher and they pull the entire Ivy league higher. UMass won't make the show this year, but the Minutemen will influence an awful lot.

The other is Siena. Siena beats Loyola and Harvard and pounds Vermont, Presbyterian, St. John's and Hartford. They lose by two to Stony Brook, but drop two one-point games to St. Joe's and Providence. They will end up dragging Loyola and Harvard and a slew of other related teams down with those losses. If you take a look at the Lax Power ratings, you will see this in even more definition.

I said last week that the Princeton-Rutgers game was important because I thought it would be decisive. It was not. In fact, it was important because it was so close. Princeton won the championship of New Jersey, 7-6. The result was too close, the way we think, to separate the two. They look pretty similar. And they are in a pack with Hobart. All three have a chance to get out of the pack with upcoming games against top teams.

The RRRR Men's Division I Lacrosse Rankings for March 31, 2008

1

Duke* 10-1

2

Maryland 7-2

3

North Carolina 7-2

4

Notre Dame 7-1

Virginia* 9-1

6

Syracuse 7-1

Georgetown 5-2

8

Navy 8-2

Cornell 7-1

Army 7-2

11

Johns Hopkins 3-4

UMBC 5-3

Drexel 8-2

14

Bucknell 7-2

Ohio State 5-3

16

Loyola 4-4

Denver 6-4

18

Penn 4-3

Stony Brook 4-4

Brown 6-2

21

Harvard 4-4

Delaware 7-3

Albany 2-5

24

Princeton 4-3

Hobart 4-4

Rutgers 3-4

* Duke players and a Virginia player were given extra eligibility by the NCAA, creating "super-seniors" -- an unfair advantage over all other contending teams in 2008.

** When Duke plays Virginia, it will be a clash of the super-seniors and may be the best game of the year!

An administrative note: We want to avoid confusion over the bearings we place on the differences between teams within a range. We have always said that those teams within a range are considered to be in a "tie" and that the order within the range was just a leaning, at most. Until this week, the headers on the range would read 2-3, to describe the range where the 2nd and 3rd teams were grouped, for example, instead of just 2. SO, we have decided to simply change the heading on the ranges so that the tie is more evident. The changes are in place this week.

The very successful RRRR theory is based on the idea that the similarities (in quality) among teams are more evident than the differences in most cases. When they are not, we call that a break and it defines our ranges. Other methods do not accommodate this reality, forcing people to rank entities which are far too similar.

Frustrated poll voters should start turning in five- and six-team ties. It's the honest thing to do, especially when they have never seen many teams play, but keep watching the same teams play over and over. It's really a matter of ethics when the participants are journalists. We should have lesser expectations of coaches when polled. They only see the teams they play and full sincerity in participation is not required. In other words, they are fully biased.

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