Here is the third installment of a very premature attempt to compile preseason rankings for next year.

The top 20 will be broken up into four installments with Thursday's post involving teams ranked from Nos. 10 to 6. Tuesday featured teams ranked from Nos. 20 to 16, and Wednesday featured teams ranked from Nos. 15 to 11. Friday will highlight Nos. 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 2015 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.

10. North Carolina (2015 record: 13-4; NCAA tournament finish: quarterfinals)

Losses: Four starters including three of the team's top four scorers in attackmen Jimmy Bitter (37 goals and 41 assists) and Joey Sankey (34 G, 38 A) and midfielder Chad Tutton (33 G, 8 A).

Returns: Six starters including a pair of defensemen in sophomore Austin Pifani (41 ground balls and 19 caused turnovers) and junior Evan Connell (32 GB, 13 CT).

Reason for pessimism: The defense will miss starting defenseman Jake Bailey (44 GB, 17 CT) and first-team All-American long-stick midfielder Ryan Kilpatrick (39 GB, 11 CT).

Reason for optimism: A deep midfield including sophomore Peyton Klawinski (19 G, 3 A), juniors Steve Pontrello (11 G, 4 A) and Patrick Kelly (6 G, 7 A) and sophomore Shane Simpson (5 G, 2 A) should complement sophomore attackman Luke Goldstock (50 G, 17 A).

9. Ohio State (12-7; quarterfinals)

Losses: Four starters including attackman Jesse King (42 G, 35 A) and midfielder David Planning (25 G, 16 A).

Returns: Six starters including two attackmen in junior Carter Brown (37 G, 18 A) and freshman Colin Chell (22 G, 4 A).

Reason for pessimism: The Buckeyes may have to be extremely efficient on offense after the departure of Christopher May, who finished the season ranked 11th in Division I in faceoff percentage (60.3) and fifth in ground balls (133).

Reason for optimism: The defense should remain stout with the return of redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Tom Carey (9.08 goals-against average and .513 save percentage) and two starting defensemen in junior Robby Haus (31 ground balls and 13 caused turnovers) and freshman Erik Evans (15 GB, 5 CT).

8. Princeton (9-6; no tournament)

Losses: Two starters in attackman Mike MacDonald (48 G, 30 A) and midfielder Kip Orban (45 G, 7 A).

Returns: Eight starters including freshman goalie Tyler Blaisdell (10.44 GAA, .504 save percentage) and three close defensemen in sophomores Bear Goldstein (22 GB, 7 CT) and Alistair Berven (6 GB, 4 CT) and freshman Aran Roberts (12 GB, 9 CT).


Reason for pessimism: The graduation of MacDonald and Orban will put the onus on junior attackman Ryan Ambler (22 G, 29 A) and sophomore midfielder Gavin McBride (24 G, 13 A) to spark the offense.

Reason for optimism: The Tigers may have the best do-everything player in the nation in sophomore midfielder Zach Currier (11 G, 14 A, 81 GB, 17 CT, 44.7 faceoff percentage on 55 of 123).

7. Brown (12-5; first round)

Losses: Four starters including defensemen Will Swindell (50 GB, 20 CT) and Stephen Loudon (25 GB, 16 CT).

Returns: Six starters including four 20-goal scorers in sophomore attackman Dylan Molloy (62 G, 30 A), junior attackman Henry Blynn (38 G, 14 A), junior attackman Kylor Bellistri (35 G, 7 A) and junior midfielder Brendan Caputo (26 G, 12 A).

Reason for pessimism: In addition to Swindell and Loudon, the defense will also have to find replacements for its top two short-stick defensive midfielders in Nick Weeden (15 GB, 11 CT) and Corbin Booker (13 GB, 10 CT).

Reason for optimism: All is not lost on defense with the return of junior goalkeeper Jack Kelly, who finished the season ranked 11th in Division I in saves per game (11.5) and 14th in save percentage (.554), and sophomore long-stick midfielder Larken Kemp, who ranked second in the nation in caused turnovers (33) and was named a second-team All-American.

6. Johns Hopkins (11-7; semifinals)

Losses: Four starters including attackman Wells Stanwick (28 G, 43 A), defenseman John Kelly (41 GB, 11 CT) and goalkeeper Eric Schneider (10.37 GAA, .489 save percentage).

Returns: Six starters including the entire first midfield of freshman Joel Tinney (28 G, 10 A) and juniors Holden Cattoni (23 G, 5 A) and Connor Reed (10 G, 16 A).

Reason for pessimism: In addition to Kelly and Schneider, the defense bade farewell to defenseman Nikhon Schuler (24 GB, 9 CT), long-stick midfielder Michael Pellegrino (58 GB, 25 CT) and short-stick defensive midfielder Phil Castronova (27 GB, 5 CT).

Reason for optimism: Despite the graduation of Stanwick, the offense should be in good hands with junior attackman Ryan Brown (61 G, 16 A) and freshman attackman Shack Stanwick (28 G, 23 A).

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