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NCAA Lacrosse: Early 2016 Top Ten Prediction

With the season over, we look ahead at the 2016 lacrosse season to determine which teams have the early edge. There are several Tournament teams with big question marks in key places.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

After an exciting weekend of college lacrosse it is now time to look to the future. It may be a bit early, but what the heck. I've put together a list of my early top ten for the 2016 season. I am confident in my top five, but I think you could switch around the order a bit and I wouldn't have any complaints. As for the bottom five of the top ten, there are a few teams that I'm not sure about, including the Syracuse Orange. Let me know if I missed anyone and tell me what you think the top ten looks like.

First I will give you my picks for the Tewaaraton Trophy Finalists for 2016. I would note that Sergio Perkovic of Notre Dame was my first player out of this list and I think he could very well make it.

Jim's Tewaaraton Finalists:

Matt Kavanagh, A, Notre Dame

Myles Jones, M, Duke

Matt Rambo, A, Maryland

Ryan Brown, A, Johns Hopkins

Dylan Molloy, A, Brown

Jim's Top Ten

1. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Notre Dame Graduates:

Jim Marlatt, M

Jack Near, M

Will Corrigan, M

Conor Doyle, A

Nick Ossello, M/FO

Key Returners:

Matt Kavanagh, A

Sergio Perkovic, M

Mikey Wynne, A

Eddy Lubowicki, A

Edwin Glazener, D

Shane Doss, G

Matt Landis, D

Garrett Epple, D

  • The Irish bring back another stacked team. The defense and the attack remain intact and Shane Doss will also return in net. I don't know if Notre Dame will win the 2016 National Championship but I am confident the Irish will take the ACC crown next year.

2. Duke Blue Devils

Duke Graduates:

Pat Resch, M

Tanner Scott, M

Will Haus, M

Kyle Keenan, A

Brian Dailey, LSM

Jack Rowe, FO

Key Returners:

Myles Jones, M

Justin Guterding, A

Jack Bruckner, M

Deemer Class, M

Kyle Rowe, M/FO

Case Matheis, A

Chad Cohan, A

Brian Dunne, D

Ethan Prowley, D

Ian Yanulis, D

Luke Aaron, G

Danny Fowler, G

  • Duke returns a lot of excellent players. In net, the Dukies have two capable goalies but I think Danny Fowler will start the year in net after an excellent second half of the year. Next year's season could be all about Myles Jones. In my opinion, Jones and Matt Kavanagh of Notre Dame are my front-runners to win the Tewaaraton next year. The defense had some troubles in the first half of the season but really pulled together in the second half looking better and better after each game. I expect the defense to be much improved in 2016. At the faceoff X, the Blue Devils lose Jack Rowe but return his brother Kyle Rowe.

3. Maryland Terrapins

Maryland Graduates:

Charlie Raffa, M/FO

Joe LoCascio, M

Jay Carlson, A

Key Returners:

Bryan Cole, M

Henry West, M

Colin Heacock, A

Dylan Maltz, A

Matt Rambo, A

Kyle Bernlohr, G

Mac Pons, D

Matt Dunn, D

Casey Ikeda, LSM

  • Losing FOGO Charlie Raffa is a huge blow to the Terrapins. Joe Garino who went 63-127 last year will try and fill the gap. Attackman Dylan Maltz will have to step up in 2016, but he will still have Matt Rambo by his side. Rambo put up 40 goals in 2015. More good news for Maryland is that it will hold on to its stellar defense as well as goalie Kyle Bernlohr.

4. Johns Hopkins Blue Jays

Johns Hopkins Graduates:

Eric Schneider, G

John Kelly, D

Michael Pellegrino, LSM

Phil Castronova, M

Drew Kennedy, M/FO

Wells Stanwick, A

Nikhon Schuler, D

Key Returners:

Ryan Brown, A

Shack Stanwick, A

Joel Tinney, M

John Crowley, M

Holden Cattoni, M

Connor Reed, M

Hunter Mooreland, FO

Nick Fields, D

  • Will Ryan will pick up the goalie duties this year as longtime netminder Eric Schneider will finally not be on the roster. The biggest loss, by far, is Wells Stanwick. Wells had 43 assists last year, 20 more than the next leading Jays assister. The good news is that attackmen Ryan Brown and Shack Stanwick will return. I think the B10 will come down to Hopkins and Maryland once again. The problem for the Jays is that it will once again have an almost new defensive unit with the exception of Nick Fields. The defense will again be the Achilles heel of this team.

5. Denver Pioneers

Denver Graduates:

Erik Adamson, M

Wesley Berg, A

Sean Cannizzarro, M

Carson Cannon, D

Ryan LaPlante, G

Mike Riis, LSM

Garret Holst, M

Key Returners:

Zach Miller, A

Tyler Pace, M

Jack Bobzien, A

Trevor Baptiste, M/F/O

Christian Burgdorf, D

Pat Karole, D

  • Denver will lose some really important pieces to its 2015 Championship team. The Pios graduate its top two goal scorers who combined for 115 goals and 168 points in 2015. I have to assume there will be a goalie battle during fall ball, and the loss of Ryan LaPlante could be the biggest hole to fill. Zach Miller and Jack Bobzien will have to have big years for Denver to have a shot at getting back to Championship Weekend.

6. Syracuse Orange

Syracuse Graduates:

Nicky Galasso, M

Hakeem Lecky, M

Bobby Wardwell, G

Kevin Rice, A

Mike Messina, M

Sean Young, D

Randy Staats, A

Peter Macartney, LSM

Henry Schoonmaker, M

Key Returners:

Dylan Donahue, A

Tim Barber, M

Jordan Evans, M

Ben Williams, F/O

Brandon Mullins, D

Jay McDermott, D

  • The Orange could easily be out of the top ten depending on how you see things. This will be a very interesting year for SU. There are so many potential holes on this team. Defensively, Brandon Mullins will return but Peter Macartney will be gone. The defense did not look good at the end of the season and I don't know if it gets any better this year. Syracuse may have to rely on a young player to come in and play like a veteran if it has any hope defensively. I think the goalie job goes to Warren Hill, but he still needs to improve. The goalie is the communication leader on the defense and we saw how the communication broke down last year; I don't think Hill is a solid communicator, right now. He will need to improve. With the loss of Randy Staats and Kevin Rice, it will be very interesting to see who Desko puts on the attack line with Dylan Donahue. There are several options. You could move Tim Barber and Jordan Evans from midfield to attack, but then you risk having a weak first line midfield. I assume Barber will move up because he did play attack with Staats out during the middle of the year. I think it will most likely be J.T. Forkin who gets that third starting role, but who knows. Man, how nice would it be to still have Dylan Maltz on the roster. On the bright side, Ben Williams will be back at the faceoff we got that going on. Two things I am really interested to see: how Donahue plays without Rice's incredible feeds, and whether or not Jordan Evans grows into the high expectations set for him. I am keeping the Orange at the six spot because I feel they are better than any team below them.

7. Brown Bears

Brown Graduates:

Nick Piroli, A

Stephen Loudon, D

Will Swindell, D

Key Returners:

Dylan Molloy, A

Henry Blynn, A

Kylor Bellistri, A

Brendan Caputo, M

Alec Tulett, D

Jack Kelly, G

  • The Bears return its top four goal and point scorers which makes this team as dangerous as anyone else in college lacrosse. Dylan Molloy is one of the best returning attackmen in the country and had an amazing 92 points in 2015. Defensively there are some holes to fill and Jack Kelly had a good save percentage but needs to give up fewer goals.

8. Virginia Cavaliers

UVA Graduates:

Ryan Tucker, M

Tyler German, M

Davi Sacco, D

Owen Van Arsdale, A

Key Returners:

Greg Coholan, M

Ryan Lukacovic, A

Zed Williams, M

Ryan Tucker, M

James Pannell, A

Logan Greco, D

Jason Murphy, FO

Scott Hooper, D

Matt Barrett, G

Tanner Scales, D

  • Virginia could end up being better than eighth in 2016. Matt Barrett is the best goalie in the game for my money but had possibly the worst performance of any goalie last year in the Tournament loss to Hopkins. He will have to sit with that bad taste in his mouth all off-season, and I think he comes back better next year. This is another team with a fairly weak defensive unit. Against Hopkins we saw an awful defensive look. I'd like to see Zed Williams improve again, he had very high expectations coming into UVA and he had a breakout season last year but UVA will need more from him. I think there is the potential for UVA to be the third best team in the ACC.

9. Yale Bulldogs

Yale Graduates:

Conrad Oberbeck, A

Colin Flaherty, M

Eric Natale, G

Ailrio DeMeireles, D

Key Returners:

Ben Reeves, A

Jeff Cimbalista, A

Eric Scott, M

Michael Keasey, M

Jonathan Reese, FO

Camyar Matini, D

Michael Quinn, D

  • Yale will lose Conrad Oberbeck and his 62 points but Ben Reeves and Jeff Cimbalista should be able to pick up the slack at attack. In net, it is unclear who will be replacing Eric Natale who had the eighth best goals against average in D1.

10. North Carolina Tar Heels

Carolina Graduates:

Jimmy Bitter, A

Joey Sankey, A

Chad Tutton, A/M

Ryan Kilpatrick, D

Jake Bailey, D

Walker Chafee, M

Key Returners:

Luke Goldstock, A

Peyton Klawinski, M

Steve Pontrello, M

Patrick Kelly, M

Stephen Kelly, F/O

Kieran Burke, G

Zach Powers, D

Austin Pifani, D

  • The Heels graduate some big names. Jimmy Bitter and Joey Sankey are pretty much irreplaceable, so I don't know what happens at attack. I also am not confident that Luke Goldstock has as good of a year in 2016 without Sankey or Bitter taking attention away from him. I like Kieran Burke in net, and even with the loss of Jake Bailey, I think Carolina will be solid defensively. I think UNC and UVA will be fighting for that fourth spot in the ACC, and I'm not as confident this year that the league gets all five teams into the NCAAT so that could be a key battle.

For the top ten, I also considered: Cornell Big Red, Princeton Tigers, and Ohio State Buckeyes.