- Notre Dame
- Johns Hopkins
- North Carolina
- Ohio State
- Stony Brook
On the WTBUbble: Villanova, Boston University, Princeton, Colgate.
Top Three: Notre Dame, Denver, and Duke are almost interchangeable. The three are favorites to make championship weekend in Philadelphia. Notre Dame is predicted for a big season, led by Tewaaraton candidate Sergio Perkovic. Denver, meanwhile, is coming off of its first ever national title but has lost its star in Wesley Berg. Connor Cannizzaro is expected to pick up the slack. Meanwhile, Duke boasts Myles Jones, likely the favorite to win the Tewaaraton.
Middle Teams: Maryland did receive a first place vote. The Terps may fall in the standings thanks to injuries, but they have the best defense in the country. North Carolina is also a team that faces many questions in the ACC after rebuilding its offense. Both Syracuse and Hopkins also have questions after injuries and graduations, which means the middle of this group is up for grabs. Virginia is a team that could emerge now that they are healthy, while Yale and Brown both have a shot at winning the Ivy League. Loyola has question marks in a tough conference, and Georgetown lost its top player to graduation. Cornell returns many of its players and should be able to compete with both Brown and Yale. Harvard is a veteran team that will also make that conference difficult. Albany will be led by its goaltender, Blaze Riordan, but without the Thompsons, will face new challenges.
Bottom Teams: Navy has the potential to explode in the rankings this season, especially if Loyola cannot bounce back from a mediocre 2015. Ohio State has been rebuilding since losing Logan Schuss a few years ago, and is ready to be a playoff team again. Towson is a strong defensive team that caught several top programs off guard last season and has the potential to do it again. Marquette is a newer program that shocked the world last season and can build off of it. Stony Brook is reloaded and has a chance to win America East.
On the Bubble: Princeton is the team that experts expect to make some noise outside of the top 20, similar to Loyola four years ago. If Colgate can answer questions about a depleted offense, they could contend for the Patriot League. Villanova is healthy and has added some transfers to give them a boost. Boston University is coming off of a surprising 2015 that saw a stellar offense and a ranking in just its second year.
Early Games to Watch
Ohio State @ Furman: The Buckeyes open their season on the road against an improving Furman club. If Ohio State wants to make it to a quarter final in Columbus, these are the kind of games where it has to shine.
Providence @ Boston University: An early test for the Terriers, in a similar position as Ohio State. Win these early games and do so with style to improve in the rankings.
Michigan @ North Carolina: Michigan surprised some teams last year. With the game at North Carolina, the Tar Heels should handle this, but an early season trap game could be presenting itself.
Johns Hopkins @ Navy: The first game between ranked opponents on the season. These Baltimore rivals will faceoff in Annapolis and it will be the Mids’ first chance to prove they belong with the top teams.