Here is the fourth installment of a very premature attempt to compile preseason rankings for next year.
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.
5. Denver (2015 record: 17-2; NCAA tournament finish: national champion)
Losses: Five starters including attackmen Wesley Berg (58 goals and 20 assists) and Sean Cannizzaro (14 G, 4 A) and midfielder Erik Adamson (35 G, 9 A).
Returns: Five starters including three of the team's top four scorers in sophomore attackman Connor Cannizzaro (57 G, 33 A), sophomore midfielder Zach Miller (26 G, 35 A) and sophomore midfielder Tyler Pace (22 G, 27 A).
Reason for pessimism: A defense that finished the season ranked 12th in Division I after allowing 8.5 goals per game will miss goalkeeper Ryan LaPlante (8.33 goals-against average and .539 save percentage), defenseman Carson Cannon (nine ground balls and seven caused turnovers), long-stick midfielder Mike Riis (70 GB, 20 CT) and short-stick defensive midfielder Garrett Holst (36 GB, 6 CT).
Reason for optimism: The Pioneers return first-team All-American Trevor Baptiste, a freshman who led the country in faceoff percentage (68.0 on 310-of-456) and and ranked fourth in ground balls (140).
4. Virginia (10-5; first round)
Losses: Four starters including two of three midfielders in Ryan Tucker (25 G, 11 A) and Tyler German (20 G, 7 A) and attackman Owen Van Arsdale (25 G, 15 A).
Returns: Six starters including three of the team's top four scorers in junior attackman Greg Coholan (39 G, 14 A), sophomore attackman Ryan Lukacovic (22 G, 27 A) and sophomore midfielder Zed Williams (20 G, 17 A).
Reason for pessimism: The defense – which tied for 49th in the nation after allowing 11.0 goals per game – graduated its best defenseman in Davi Sacco (27 GB, 23 CT).
Reason for optimism: The Cavaliers welcome back a pair of junior starters in attackman James Pannell (knee) and defenseman Tanner Scales (Achilles tendon) from injuries that wiped out their 2015 campaigns.
3. Maryland (15-4; finals)
Losses: Three starters in midfielder Joe LoCascio (29 G, 15 A), attackman Jay Carlson (33 G, 8 A) and defenseman Casey Ikeda (3 A, 29 GB, 18 CT).
Returns: Seven starters including two attackmen in sophomores Matt Rambo (40 G, 19 A) and Dylan Maltz (11 G, 5 A) and two midfielders in juniors Bryan Cole (17 G, 22 A) and Henry West (20 G, 7 A).
Reason for pessimism: He's not a starter, but the departure of faceoff specialist Charlie Raffa (57.9 percent on 125-of-216 and 45 GB) leaves the Terps with a big void to fill.
Reason for optimism: The country's stingiest defense at 7.1 goals per game will add fifth-year senior defenseman and Virginia transfer Greg Danseglio to a unit that already includes redshirt junior goalie Kyle Bernlohr (6.95 GAA, .571 save percentage), junior defenseman Matt Dunn (13 GB, 11 CT) and sophomore defenseman Mac Pons (4 GB, 8 CT).
2. Notre Dame (12-3; semifinals)
Losses: Three starters in attackman Conor Doyle (31 G, 20 A) and midfielders Nick Ossello (23 G, 6 A) and Will Corrigan (8 G, 6 A).
Returns: Seven starters including three defensemen in juniors Matt Landis (29 GB, 12 CT) and Edwin Glazener (18 GB, 13 CT) and sophomore Garrett Epple (51 GB, 18 CT) and sophomore goalkeeper Shane Doss (9.06 GAA, .546 save percentage).
Reason for pessimism: The only defensive loss is short-stick defensive midfielder Jack Near (7 G, 6 A, 25 GB, 3 CT), but the departure of the second-team All American could be significant to the Fighting Irish.
Reason for optimism: The offense welcomes back three of its top four scorers in junior attackman Matt Kavanagh (27 G, 25 A), sophomore midfielder Sergio Perkovic (34 G, 7 A) and freshman attackman Mikey Wynne (33 G, 4 A).
1. Duke (12-6; first round)
Losses: No starters, but several contributors in midfielders Tanner Scott (18 G, 5 A) and Kyle Keenan (9 G, 6 A) and long-stick midfielder Brian Dailey (46 GB, 18 CT).
Returns: All 10 starters including the top five scorers in junior midfielder and 2015 Tewaaraton Award finalist Myles Jones (40 G, 37 A), freshman attackman Justin Guterding (52 G, 18 A), sophomore attackman Jack Bruckner (47 G, 13 A), junior midfielder Deemer Class (34 G, 19 A) and junior attackman Case Matheis (20 G, 19 A).
Reason for pessimism: Unless there is a transfer or incoming freshman in the pipeline, the cage will continue to be a question mark with redshirt freshman Danny Fowler (11.76 GAA, .489 save percentage) and junior Luke Aaron (11.30 GAA, .486 save percentage) competing for the primary role.
Reason for optimism: Although the Blue Devils graduate faceoff specialist Jack Rowe (54.4 percent on 179-of-329 and 112 GB), they have a capable replacement in Rowe's younger brother and sophomore Kyle (61.4 percent on 113-of-184, 63 GB).