January 27, 2015 by Charlie Eisenhood in Rankings with 11 comments
Here are the first Savage Power Rankings for the Men’s Division in the new year. These reflect results from the fall season, early information from the 2015 regular season, and our knowledge of the most current rosters.
A pair of losses at the Carolina Kickoff doesn’t change the fundamentals — Pitt is deep, rich with talent, and the frontrunner to capture another title in 2015. Max Thorne and Trent Dillon sat out a fair amount on the weekend and Pitt still won most of their games.
2. North Carolina
You could surely call UNC 1A right now, after their win over Pittsburgh at Carolina Kickoff. Jon Nethercutt and Ben Snell have been excellent to start the year, and if they can find consistent cutting on the offensive line, they will be in the title contenders conversation all season long.
The preseason favorite has fallen to #3 not because of any on-field play but because the rumored arrival of Simon Higgins never materialized and Aaron Honn has declined to play in 2015. Dylan Freechild will keep Ego more than competitive, but there are now questions about whether or not they’ll have enough firepower to win a title.
Colorado may not have been quite as sharp at MLC this year as they were with a Mickle-led army of seniors last season, but they were still plenty good enough to win the tournament. Stanley Peterson and Mark Rauls will pace this year’s team as they look to defend their title.
Despite playing without U23 selection Bobby Ley, Florida was very competitive at Kickoff, notching a nice win over UNC Wilmington and losing close to UNC, Pitt, and Central Florida. The fact that they played as strong as they did without their best player is a good sign for a team that is frequently criticized for a lack of depth.
6. Central Florida
Well, did we ever get Central Florida wrong? We had them pegged as #23 heading into the season, but they obliterated that ranking with an amazing run at Kickoff with wins over Pitt, UNC, Florida, and UNC Wilmington. Jeremy Langdon and sophomore Michael Fairley were outstanding, and there’s an easy case to be made that UCF should be even higher on the list than #6. We await further results before moving them higher.
Michigan’s resiliency shined all fall and they return enough talent to make them a real semis threat in 2015. Sam Greenwood and Jesse Buchsbaum lead the way for MagnUM, and the expected return of Matt Orr will add to their depth.
8. UNC Wilmington
We’ve cooled a little bit on Wilmington after simply an OK fall and Carolina Kickoff. They’ve clearly handled their business against teams ranked below them, but they have work to do to get back into the top five.
The Hodags have flown a bit under the radar for the past couple of seasons but 2015 looks like a potential breakout year. A strong fall season and the development of some of their soon-to-be stars like Avery Johnson foreshadow an up-year for Wisconsin.
10. Texas A&M
The final season for Matt Bennett and Dalton Smith could culminate in A&M setting their sights on the South Central regional title and a deep run at Nationals.
The sheer amount of youth talent Carleton has brought in over the past three years is going to start to translate into a move back towards the top of the Division. Jesse Bolton is likely to be in the mix for Player of the Year this season.
A nice string of play at CCC put Georgia into the top 15. But last year they played well in the fall before faltering in the Spring. Can they keep it going this year? Sam Little and Elliott Erickson have the experience to drive them to success.
13. Florida State
It was a quieter start to the year for FSU, but don’t be surprised to see them moving up the power rankings as the season moves along. Chris LaRocque is a POTY shortlister and the team has developed its depth nicely over the past few seasons.
Missing quarters again would be a huge disappointment for Redline this season, as they return some real firepower in Jeremy Nixon, Mark Vandenburg, and John Stubbs. Nobody’s talking about Harvard right now, but they have no doubt top eight potential.
Featuring of the Division’s highest upside players in Jeff Babbitt, UMass is ready to improve on their Nationals run from last season under a year of full coaching from Tiina Booth. Along with Harvard, UMass could vault the Northeast back into the mix for best regions in the country.
Despite the inability to finish at Regionals the past few seasons, Minnesota is still an extremely talented team that could see the window close after this season. That should add to their urgency to get back to Nationals.
Tyler Chan and Carter Thallon will lead an always-solid Tufts team in 2015. They may not have the buzz that has been focused on Harvard and UMass, but they will gladly beat you at Regionals. Hard to say, now, where the team’s ceiling is.
The Sundodgers landed themselves squarely in the top 25 with a strong performance at the Santa Barbara Invite, including a nice win over ASU and some extremely convincing performances in other games. The team — with some real playmakers in Khalif El-Salaam and Jonny Stacey — could be one of the pleasant surprises of 2015.
19. Eastern Michigan
Johnny Bansfield and James Highsmith are back for EMU — they really could carry the team back to Nationals on that alone. If they can develop one or two more cutters to back up the super backfield of Austin Engel and Bansfield, they could be a real threat.
James Highsmith informed us that he and Bansfield have decided to forego their fifth year of eligibility in order to focus on preparing for the club season with High Five. EMU’s #19 ranking should no longer be considered valid, and we will update the rankings page in order to reflect the loss of two of the division’s most underrated players.
A 7-1 performance at MLC reasonably turned some heads towards Iowa. Jake Kersten is no longer on the team, but they have good depth this year. Lots still to prove in the Spring.
21. Arizona State
ASU looks like the class of the Southwest to start the season, and Danny Bellissimo deserves a long look as a Southwest POTY candidate. With him and Nate Bridges leading a squad with plenty of experience, their expectations should reasonably be Nationals.
Auburn showed signs of breaking through last season, but never really found a stride in the Spring. But they’ve started off 2015 right with an impressive showing at the Carolina Kickoff, beating preseason ranked team Georgia Tech, playing Pitt to double game point, and losing only to top 10 teams.
They may have been drubbed by Washington in the SB Invite semis, but UBC looked like a quality side throughout most of the weekend in California, finishing 6-1 with wins over Stanford (twice) and Arizona State. The real question is: could they help bring multiple bids to the Northwest?
NUT had a great 2014 and they return plenty of quality talent this season. Whether they’ll be able to secure a spot at Nationals probably falls on them to earn a bid again this year (and hope EMU does the same).
Cornell won’t be complacent again this season after watching Rutgers snap their Metro East winning streak last spring and snatch away their spot at Nationals. The Metro East remains the weakest region in the country and it’s Cornell’s to lose once again.