When I decided to start my obsessive writing about college soccer for this site, I made something of a promise to myself. No polls, no ill-advised player ranking lists (seriously what is that? You know what I’m talking about coaches that lurk and read my stuff). So then an e-mail from Jenna arrived last week To paraphrase:
Jenna: You want to do a Top 25 list?
Well, that promise lasted long. So here comes my utterly contrarian list through the games of Monday. Fair warning, I’m not really interested in limiting myself to a number, so that “51? at the top right now is a floating number that will change weekly in all likelihood. Some rough, subjective, and vague criteria:
-Teams have to be at .500 or above. If you aren’t good enough for at-large consideration, you aren’t good enough for this list.
-Head-to-head matters. Because it should. Even if it creates horrible mental brainteasers later in the year.
-Head-to-head matters but only to a certain extent. AKA The Northwestern Clause. A tip: Don’t lose to Kansas after beating UCLA. Tends to sour opinions in a hurry.
-Who you’ve beaten matters. AKA The Clemson Corollary. Beating teams with a pulse is a must.
1. North Carolina
2. Notre Dame
5. Boston College
11. Arizona State
13. Texas A&M
14. Oklahoma State
16. Wake Forest
18. San Diego
19. New Mexico
22. Florida State
24. Ohio State
25. Santa Clara
26-51 and Justifications/Musings After The Jump
28. Long Beach State
31. South Carolina
35. William & Mary
40. Loyola Marymount
43. Central Florida
44. Michigan State
48. Cal State Fullerton
49. UNC Greensboro
50. Oregon State
51. Texas Tech
Musings (AKA Defend Your Life!):
-I’m pretty much in line with around the top nine or so in the polls. I like BYU more than the other polls and like Virginia more than the coaches at the moment.
-Nobody respects Minnesota, and I’m not sure why. The Gophers played Notre Dame as close as anybody has this season and have wins over a better than they look Vandy team, UC Santa Barbara, and over a San Diego team that has been felling big conference teams left and right.
-Ditto for Arizona State, although to a lesser degree. I think some of last year’s bias is still working against the Sun Devils. Beating Charlotte and drawing South Carolina in a two day span holds more weight than people would think at first blush.
-Yeah, Texas A&M’s only loss is to UNC. So what? Their best win might be over an offensively challenged St. John’s team. Virginia Tech? Washington State? Anybody convinced they might not be that good?
-People are reading way, way too much into UConn’s loss to Siena. Yet, the coaches have Illinois and Penn State receiving votes in their poll after the Huskies beat them both. Bizarre.
-Is it me or is a lot of leeway being given to UCLA for their misadventures in the midwest a few weeks ago? They barely squeaked by a neutered Wisconsin offense and lost to a Northwestern team that hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire since their shock win.
-The popular soccer forum meme of the moment seems to be hating on San Diego for whatever reason. So they were outplayed by Marquette. The point is they won the match. And beat USC on the road.
-The head-to-head breakdown of 19-24 works surprisingly well. New Mexico beats Marquette who beat Auburn who beat FSU and Wisconsin-Milwaukee who beat Ohio State. Also, New Mexico not even receiving votes in either poll? Really?
-Speaking of Auburn and FSU, anybody who ranks the Seminoles above Auburn at this point is clearly on drugs or is in love with FSU’s reputation. Auburn beats Milwaukee and Florida State and only has a loss to Marquette (hence why they’re under the Golden Eagles). Florida State’s marquee win is over a Washington State team that might not actually be any good. Other wins? Gonzaga, Mercer, and Stetson.
-Santa Clara is being overvalued at the moment based on reputation and expectations. All their wins are pretty meaningless and their best result is really a draw with Cal (who I’m also unimpressed by).
-Wide range of opinion on Louisville at the moment. Mine falls somewhere in the middle right now.
-Uh, hello? Anybody notice Georgetown really hasn’t beaten anybody yet? AGAIN? The next four matches should see them have great chances to move up though.
-I think I’m undervaluing South Carolina right now a bit. I just don’t buy into Louisville that much though and seeing as how the Gamecocks lost to them…
-No love for Yale? Maybe a little if Penn State gets their act together.
-Memphis is a much, much better team than their ranking, but their results at the moment really add up to nothing, with the best win likely over a toothless LSU team.
-How are people justifying UCLA at #13, but Northwestern fading into the abyss? Losing to Kansas is very bad, but can we just totally discount the win over the Bruins?
-Here’s some inconsistency for you. William & Mary beats Penn State and a bunch of stiffs and they are ranked 22 and 14. Yale beats Penn State and has one loss to Illinois and doesn’t get a sniff of the rankings. UConn isn’t even receiving votes after tying W&M and beating Penn State and Illinois. How is that rational?
-Cal is a Top 20 team just because they drew with Santa Clara? Really? They also drew with UC Irvine and have wins over minnows Rice and Hawaii.
-No clue how Cincy is #15 in Soccer America. Did someone tell them that Wisconsin isn’t really that good at the moment?
-Georgia’s best win is over a decrepit Kansas team. #23 (NSCAA)? Don’t think so.
-I like a good mid-major story myself, but Monmouth? Yeah, beating Rutgers was a nice little upset, but who have Rutgers beaten to merit any consideration as contenders whatsoever?
-Re: Oregon State: See Memphis. But the Beavers are probably a better team than the Tigers at any rate but just haven’t beaten anyone as good as LSU at the moment.