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Premature men's lacrosse rankings for 2017, Part 1

With Monday's 14-13 overtime decision against top-seeded Maryland at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, North Carolina became the first unseeded team to capture the NCAA Division I title and the first champion with six losses. For the Terps, a championship drought since the program's last crown in 1975 just got longer.

As the saying goes, when one chapter ends, another begins. So here is a very premature attempt to compile preseason rankings for next season.

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The top 20 will be broken up into four installments with Tuesday's post involving teams ranked 20 to 16. Wednesday will feature 15 to 11, Thursday 10 to 6 and Friday 5 to 1.

Unless there are confirmed reports about certain players planning to use fifth years of eligibility, this space will assume that seniors in 2016 will not return next season. Unannounced fifth-year seniors and potential transfers will affect the rankings that come out next February, but here's a spin anyway.

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20. Bryant (2016 record: 10-5; NCAA tournament finish: no tournament)

Losses: Two starters in attackman Shane Morrell (30 goals and 10 assists) and goalkeeper Gunnar Waldt (8.45 goals-against average and .571 save percentage).

Returns: Eight starters including the entire close defense of sophomores Chas South (46 ground balls and 22 caused turnovers) and Anthony Johnson (19 GB, 13 CT) and junior Kyle Mummau (17 GB, 10 CT).

Reason for pessimism: Waldt (St. Paul's), a two-time third-team All American and 2016 honorable-mention choice, played all but 26 minutes in the cage this year.

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Reason for optimism: An offense that averaged 11.2 goals should continue to run smoothly under the direction of junior attackman Tucker James (33 G, 22 A).

19. Fairfield (9-8; no tournament)

Losses: Two starters in midfielders Charlie Schnider (11 G, 32 A) and T.J. Neubauer (31 G, 3 A).

Returns: Eight starters, including the Colonial Athletic Association's Co-Player and Rookie of the Year, freshman attackman Colin Burke (46 G, 17 A).

Reason for pessimism: Burke and others will have to fill the void created by the departure of Schnider, who accounted for 37.6 percent of the team's assists.

Reason for optimism: The defense welcomes back all three starting defensemen and junior goalie Tyler Behring (9.19 GAA, .572 save percentage).

18. Ohio State (7-8; no tournament)

Losses: Three starters including defensemen Robby Haus (31 GB, 6 CT) and Chris Mahoney (16 GB, 12 CT).

Returns: Seven starters including the entire attack of juniors Austin Shanks (15 G, 16 A) and Eric Fannell (15 G, 9 A) and sophomore Colin Chell (14 G, 6 A).

Reason for pessimism: Even with the anticipated return of five offensive starters, that unit mustered just 9.4 goals per game this spring.

Reason for optimism: The offense should get plenty of chances to raise its average courtesy of junior and Big Ten Specialist of the Year Jake Withers (60.7 percent on 184-of-303 and 110 GB).

17. Virginia (7-8; no tournament)

Losses: Two starters in attackmen James Pannell (33 G, 11 A) and Greg Coholan (15 G, 13 A).

Returns: Eight starters including the entire close defense and junior goalkeeper Matt Barrett (10.76 GAA, .476 save percentage).

Reason for pessimism: Letting go of coach Dom Starsia leaves the program with a huge void at the top of the pyramid.

Reason for optimism: If the new coach can quickly add five Under Armour All Americans to the mix, the Cavaliers could be a dark-horse candidate in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

16. Penn (8-7; no tournament)

Losses: Two starters in attackman Nick Doktor (14 G, 34 A) and midfielder Pat Berkery (10 G, 8 A).

Returns: Eight starters, including the entire close defense and freshman goalie Reed Junkin (9.91 GAA, .535 save percentage).

Reason for pessimism: After Doktor, the player with the next-highest total in assists was freshman attackman Simon Mathias with 11.

Reason for optimism: The hope is that a Rope unit headed by sophomore long-stick midfielder and honorable-mention All American Connor Keating (51 GB, 11 CT) can reduce the Quakers' goals-per-game average of 10.1.

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