Why Arizona State Should Be Ranked 3rd In The MCLA

Connor Wilson explains why Arizona State should still be ranked 3rd in the MCLA. Is he saying there is such a thing as a “good loss”? Gasp.
ASU Utah lacrosse
ASU vs. Utah

One can certainly make a case for Arizona State to be placed outside of the Top 3 in the MCLA.  They are 7-3 and have dropped 3 of their last 4 games.  One of those losses was to Michigan State, who is now ranked 6th, while the other two losses came at the hands of Michigan and Colorado State.  In between losing to CSU and Michigan, ASU beat Colorado handily, 15-5.

ASU Utah  lacrosse
ASU vs. Utah

Photo pulled from Colleen J. Hayes Photography.  Great stuff, Colleen!

Losses are losses and they are coming in bunches for the Sun Devils, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still an extremely talented and dangerous team.  And there are such things as good losses.  At least at this point in the season there are.  After all, when two good teams play, someone does have to lose.

The loss to Colorado State was tight, 11-10 in OT 6-5 in regulation (thanks commenters for the fix!), but it did happen on the road.  This seems to justify the #3 ranking to me.  They went to the #2 team’s house and lost in overtime.  No problems there.

They then went TO Colorado and dominated.  Another mark of the #3 team in the country if I’ve ever seen one.

[stu alias="fivestar1"][/stu]

Then they head to Michigan (talk about being willing to play anyone anywhere!) and lose by two to the 3-time defending champs.  Again, no reason for them to actually drop in the polls.  The #1 team should probably beat the #3 team at home.  That’s how you know it’s working.

THE VERY NEXT DAY, they take on a tough and talented Michigan State team who has won and lost tight games against some of the best teams in the country.  ASU does this AT Michigan State and they lose by one.

In NCAA D3 Lacrosse, the estimate is that an approximate 3 goal shift occurs when a team plays at home vs on the road.  It doesn’t always happen, and there is a large margin for error, but the point is that playing at home helps.  It’s why when Middlebury lost to Wesleyan at Wesleyan earlier this year, Midd didn’t drop out of the Top 10 and Wes didn’t enter it.  Home field means something.  According to Laxpower, HFA means about 1.5 goals in the MCLA.  Still impressive.   And it further illustrates my point that ASU can still be ranked 3rd.

I can see the argument for Cal Poly deserving to the #3 team in the most recent poll, but they don’t have a Top 10 win, while ASU has two.  So I can still see why the Sun Devils are rated so highly.  South Carolina is undefeated at 10-0 but haven’t played a single Top 20 team yet.  You don’t get to be a top 10 team without quality wins.  Or at least quality SOS.  Chapman is a compelling case but they only have one Top 10 win, and two Top 10 losses, and one of those was at home.  So that’s a toss up.  FSU is 14-1 but have zero Top 10 wins and a loss to Texas.  Don’t think so.  Texas could actually make a better case, but SOS is killing them too.  BYU?  They lost to both teams from Michigan and it wasn’t as close.  So that doesn’t work either.

See my point?  You can disagree with ASU being ranked 3rd, but you have to admit, it’s not as simple as just moving them down.  Who takes their place?

  1. Also, you are ignoring the fact that Michigan State had played the day before against CSU. They were both playing back to backs, and Michigan State made it happen.

    Not to mention that Michigan was playing them 24 hours after taking on the number 2 team in the country. If they play Michigan when UM was fresh, who is to say they wouldn’t lose just like CSU or BYU?

    The close loss is stupid. Who is to say that BYU didn’t see that they were down and start taking some risks to get back into the game, and allowed Michigan/Michigan State a few extra goals. Should the league send the message that it’s more important to be close. Do you want coaches saying:

    “ok, we are only down by 2, Pack it in on D because right now this is a good loss. We can’t give up any more goals”

    Dumb. You play to win. If you don’t win it doesn’t matter the margin.

    1. No need to be critical of Connor, it simply an opinion piece. I appreciate that this is the highest profile website that discusses the MCLA. Connor nor I have the ability to watch these game live or replays. The great thing about Lacrosse All Stars is that they owners are really cool guys and encourage people like yourself to give your opinion on these topics. If you disagree write an article on how you think the top 3/5/10 should be constructed and why and if its well written I can almost promise you it will be posted. I personally would love to have more input including yours (your’s seems right) on the MCLA as almost no games are available via the internet and most opinions on national powers have to be based on scores like this as no one has access to all of the top teams. Keep doing what you do Connor, I love that an East Coast guy has enough respect for West Coast Lax to report it on a national website.

      1. thanks MP! I don’t mind people being critical… and you’re absolutely right… if the commenter sent in THEIR opinion, I’d definitely post it. Love a good conversation about lax. Always! Even if i’m wrong!

    2. I agree. Play to win.

      But what about when two TOP level teams play each other? Someone has to lose. ASU has won and lost against top teams. And ALL of their losses were on the road. That says something to me. It’s more impressive than MSU winning two home games back to back even. I may be crazy. that’s totally fair. And I personally would have dropped them to #5 or 6, but still I can see why they didn’t drop that much.

      So do you just promote teams that don’t lose but play no one? Or do you reward teams that play the top teams and win some and lose some?

      I’ll take the latter any day.

  2. No argument on ASU #3. When UCSB lost 21-0 to Michigan, they plummeted in the Prodigy Coaches poll. This provoke a lively discussion. Is there a D3 calibration for this type of an event, where a team has a really bad loss against a really good team?

    Another point about Michigan at home is their indoor field has a narrow field, huge noise etc so it is a big challenge for visiting teams.

    1. at least in the world of laxpower power rankings, every division does and losses are capped at 10 goals for differential. Running up the score (over 10) is not rewarded.
      ASU was still #3 in Laxpower’s PR for the MCLA and seeing as almost every game has played 5+ games, they are pretty accurate. As you can see, BU is an anomoly, only having 4 games done so they climb higher. Math. It’s weird sometimes.

      As a D3 pollster, if a team loses by more than 5 goals it wasn’t close. I basically treat 7 goal losses like 14 goals losses. In that, they’re both bad losses.

      My poll is always a reflection the teams I think are the 20 best right now with the exception being that I will usually keep a previous year’s NC as my #1 until they lose. It’s silly, but it’s a sign of respect. If I were a pollster right now, I’d still think ASU was the 3rd best team in the MCLA.

  3. People use polls as a reactionary pillow. When a team loses there is a lot of rabble-rousing that they should fall in the polls, and it’s tough to fight that pitchfork-wielding logic. But, you make a solid argument Connor, that ASU’s losses are not in fact signs of the apocalypse. I think 1 and 2 goal games can easily be swung the other direction come Denver.

    And you know what’s great? No matter how low you knee-jerk rank the Sun Devils now, they will be in Denver where they can put up or shut up. Ah the beauty of a playoff.

  4. i dont like how everyone makes the comment who takes their place. i think we all know that ASU is a #3 caliber teams, but they flat out lost. thats all that matters. (the CSU v. ASU was not an OT game) being rewarded for losing is absurd no matter who it is against. they are one of the best 3 teams in this league no doubt, that shouldnt matter if ur losing games

    1. but TWO of those Three losses came to teams that are now ranked above them! Isn’t the 3 teams supposed to lose to #1 and #2 on the road? The MSU loss is another story. but they have some losses too. should they be number 3?

      it’s east to say ASU shouldn’t be 3. It’s harder to say who SHOULD be.

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