The poll did not disappoint this week either as we had maybe an even larger shakeup after a weekend of craziness. Penn State extended their losing streak to 4 matches, after 11 straight wins, before finding a win at home against UC Irvine. Those results led to the largest single week drop that we have seen in the polls, a drop of 4 spots to 10th place. Pepperdine cashed in on their recent victories over Stanford and BYU to claim Penn State’s vacant spot in 6th. We also saw the biggest “fight” over the top spot in the polls since the beginning of the season. Last week was the first time more than two teams got a first place vote and that was beat by this week’s four, with no team receiving more than 9 votes. Long Beach State was the only member of our core top 5 teams that didn’t receive a first place vote. The big winners in the poll were Ohio State, your new number one ranked team, who gained 25 points, and UCLA, who was on a bye, who gained 18 points. Ohio State has slowly been gaining more and more attention as they overcame their slow start and has now finally eclipsed the pack and reached the top (Our analysis shows them consistently improving throughout the year as well). The fun part about the upcoming weeks is that this is the lowest point total a No. 1 ranking has gotten this year. The top 5 are all very close and even something as small as not looking good in a win could be the difference between moving up and down.
Here is a breakdown of the top 5 in the VMRI for the whole season:
The analysis definitely says a lot for Stanford and LBSU, they have a large lead over the other three teams. When I look at the statistics of just the last 7 weeks these two teams still lead the way but they are only slightly ahead. This makes sense when you look at the statistical starts that BYU and Ohio State had and the strong start that LBSU had.
Coming into the final couple of weeks of play the real question mark lies with the schools ranked 2-5 in the current poll. Only three of these teams can find their way into the NCAA tournament (if Ohio State receives the MIVA automatic qualifying spot), and possibly only two. That will be a hard decision for the selection committee and will put increased pressure and intensity on the MPSF tournament in April.
A big match is happening this week between heavyweights UCLA and LBSU; check out our Match of the Week post for more information.