The 2015-2016 preseason College Power Rankings are here!
November 2, 2015 by Charlie Eisenhood in Rankings with 24 comments
We are excited to present the first installment of this year’s preseason College Power Rankings in the Men’s Division! These rankings are based holistically on a number of factors: last year’s performance, roster changes, conversations with coaches, the “eye test”, and assorted other factors.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for the top 10!
25. Brown Brownian Motion (2015: 3rd in New England)
Brown has felt like a team that has been looking to break through for years after their epic run in the 2000s. Maybe this is the year. 1st Team All-Region junior Eli Motycka continues to get better. Sawyer Thompson could have a breakout season. They picked up one of the stars of the nation’s rookie class in Mac Hecht, fresh off of a YCC title with Boston BUDA.
They’ll probably need to earn a bid if they want to go to Nationals. They’ll be a team to keep an eye on early in the spring season.
24. Arizona State Prime (2015: 3rd in Southwest)
ASU had a serious up year in 2015, featuring two of the best playmakers in the Southwest — Nate Bridges and Danny Bellissimo — leading the team to the best regular season in program history. Coming up short of Nationals surely stung. Now, Bridges is gone and Bellissimo is a question mark. The team does return captain and 1st Team All-Region player Andrew Kohl as well as 2nd Teamer Aaron Flegenheimer. A lot of talent remains, but so much of the team last year ran through Bridges and Bellissimo: can they retool without them?
23. UC Santa Barbara Black Tide (2015: T-17th at Nationals, 1st in Southwest)
Last year’s Southwest region looked sure to be dominated by Arizona State, the team that had been not just deserving of a one seed at Regionals but also managed to make national headlines with strong play. But the historic UCSB program stole their thunder in a big way as they captured the lone Southwest bid. What’s next for this team, though? They lose their best player in Hunter Corbett, who won’t return for a fifth year. But lots of talent returns, including leading Nationals assist man Kyle Rubin and 2nd Team All-Region player Will Turner. With light turnover, UCSB should stay in the thick of the Southwest conversation.
22. Auburn Aetos (2015: T-13th at Nationals, 4th in Southeast)
Last year’s Cinderella story (in more ways than one) may not have the fire power that it did a year ago, but Auburn remains a very deep and solid team that could have what it takes to knock on the Nationals door again this year. Losing a super player and leader in Ryan Landry won’t make 2016 any easier, but almost everyone else returns, including Blake Galloway and last year’s rookie sensation Eric Sjostrom. With Florida State dipping a bit in the Southeast, there might just be room for Auburn in the mix again this year.
21. Illinois (2015: T-13th at Nationals, 1st in Great Lakes)
2015 Great Lakes Nationals qualifier Illinois looks solidly at the top of the region again this year. Michigan is graduating a lot of strong players, and Illinois returns perhaps the frontrunner for the region’s POTY: Nick Prozorovsky.
Prozorovsky was 1st Team All-Region last season and a goal scoring machine at Nationals. He anchors a senior-heavy roster. Could this team crack into the next tier after a T-13th place finish in Milwaukee last year?
20. Texas A&M Dozen (2015: T-9th at Nationals, 1st in South Central)
Texas A&M loses a lot of experience this season, but Dalton Smith will return for a fifth year to keep A&M relevant in the South Central. Matt Bennett, Thomas Slack, Bobby Lewis, and others depart, leaving a young team in their wake.
It will be interesting to see how the team rebuilds around Smith, who often shared duties with — or even took a backseat to — Bennett last season. Smith, to many onlookers, was perhaps the best player on the roster with excellent cutting, lethal throws, and more consistency than Bennett.
A&M has started to put together more of a program over the last three years; this season will be a litmus test on how well they’ve developed their role players.
19. UBC Thunderbirds (2015: 3rd in Northwest)
The Vancouver team will lose a couple of key pieces like Fred Lam, but, even last year, it was their youth that was so impressive. Expect similar quality this year from the Thunderbirds, who made some waves last year at Northwest Regionals before missing out on Nationals. It’s worth noting that they played well enough to earn a third bid for the region last season, but lost it due to eligibility issues.
Brayden Gee and Peter Yu (both of Team Canada U23) both return for the Thunderbirds. The Northwest is in big time flux this year with the departure of Dylan Freechild and a consequently thinner Oregon team. UBC might be able to capitalize.
18. UConn Grind (2015: 2nd in Metro East)
This is the highest that a Metro East team has landed in the preseason College Power Rankings since Ultiworld started college coverage in 2013. UConn looks like they might just have the tools to do more than qualify.
John Wodatch (PoNY) and Mike Rice lead the way for a team that has been on the verge of making Nationals for a few years. Perhaps the addition of Bryan Jones as head coach will make the difference. Jones comes over from leading SUNY Geneseo to a semifinals appearance at DIII Nationals in the 2015 season. He is also coming off of a club season coaching New York PoNY.
UConn got off to a good start with a 3rd place finish at Huck A Hunk, where they beat Dartmouth and Brown and took close losses to Harvard (11-9) and UMass (13-11). They gave UMass their toughest game of the tournament.
17. Florida State DUF (2015: T-3rd at Nationals, 1st in Southeast)
You can’t talk about Florida State without talking about the departure of the player core that brought the program into national prominence. 2015 College Player of the Year Chris LaRocque and Andrew Roney both leave this season after leading the team to a semifinals appearance at Nationals this spring.
FSU won’t be down and out, though. Connor Holcombe and Bobby Patterson both return. They still have a fantastic coach in Pete van de Burgt. But they will need a lot of younger talent to step up into larger roles in order to be successful in the post-LaRocque era.
16. Minnesota Grey Duck (2015: T-9th at Nationals, 1st in North Central)
A lot of emphasis will be placed on the fact that Josh Klane — the face of the Minnesota program for at least the last two years — will not return to Grey Duck. While his loss will certainly be felt, Minnesota has a good chance to remain very much in the Nationals mix in 2016. Three of the team’s four All-Region players (Ryan Osgar, Soham Shah, and 1st Teamer Ben Jagt) return this season. They host 10 fifth years and seniors. Strong supporting cast members like Tristan van de Moortele and Tony Poletto are back.
In many ways, this could be Minnesota’s big year, even more so than last year. Yes, they will need to find a way to fill the shoes of the big throwing Klane, but they have the personnel to do so. And they can build around the outstanding Jagt, who will be one of the country’s best cutters.
15. Texas TUFF (2015: T-5th at Nationals, 3rd in South Central)
Last year, Texas was coming off of a high water mark in the final season of Will Driscoll’s college career. How far would Texas fall, we wondered. But storied programs are storied for a reason. Despite a bumpy road to Nationals, Texas showed up in Milwaukee and tied for 5th after a big win over Pitt in pool play and a quarterfinals appearance. This year, they won’t have Chase Cunningham — a big loss — but Joel Clutton and 2nd Team All-Region player Dillon Larberg return. Texas isn’t going anywhere.
14. Stanford Bloodthirsty (2015: 2nd in Southwest)
Last year, Stanford made it to the finals of Southwest Regionals after upsetting ASU in semis. They didn’t have a single player on the Southwest All-Region team. You think they might have some depth?
No question about it — Stanford had endless lines of talented, if not standout, players and could be in for a big year. 2014 SW Freshman of the Year Sam Kunz is a back after a study abroad stint. Elliott Chartock — an All-Region snub — is back. Key pieces like Nate Gruver and sophomore captain Gabe Hernandez return.
Stanford’s early returns look good, including a fall win over Oregon. We’ll see how they stack up at CCC.
13. Florida Gators (2015: 5th in Southeast)
This has all the makings of a big bounce back year for Florida after a disappointing 2015 campaign ended at Regionals. Lots of firepower returns, including fifth year Bobby Ley, senior Tanner Repasky, and junior Billy O’Bryan. James Dahl is the most notable loss.
Florida may need to rejigger their offense somewhat to account for the loss of Dahl — who had great chemistry with Ley — in the backfield, but they have an excellent cutter corps and shouldn’t have a problem.
Especially with other Southeast teams like Florida State taking a step back, Florida has a chance to rise back towards the top of the country’s strongest region.
12. Harvard Red Line (2015: 4th in New England)
It could be quite a year for Harvard. After a rebuilding year in 2015, they have the pieces to get back to Nationals and even do some damage. 1st Team All-Region players John Stubbs and Mark Vandenberg are both returning, backed up by a lot of role players that got a ton of playing time last year. While Harvard may not have the firepower to eclipse the UMass juggernaut, they should be a clear #2 in New England with top 10 potential.
11. Carleton CUT (2015: 3rd in North Central)
This is officially the lowest preseason ranking for Carleton since the start of Ultiworld’s Power Rankings in 2013. That’s as much a reflection of Carleton’s rough 2015 as it is a sign of the waning punch that the North Central has had in recent seasons.
Carleton will no doubt be motivated after a season in which they missed out on Nationals for the first time since 2006. 1st Team All-Region players Jesse Bolton and Justin Lim will anchor a team that will look to its immensely talented sophomore class (including Sol Yanuck and Henry Fisher) for even more this season. Expect to see Carleton at Nationals again, but how high can they climb?
The Top 10 will be announced tomorrow!
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said that Stanford’s Elliott Chartock was leaving the team. In fact, he will return in 2016 as a captain.