The first ever “Team Handball News Collegiate Top 5 Poll” is out and to no one’s surprise Army (West Point) is the unanimous 1st place pick by all 9 voters. In fact, having won 11 straight national titles it’s a pretty safe bet that they would have had been ranked #1 consistently since 2006 (when they lost to North Carolina) if the poll had been in existence. Army is 2-0-0 in collegiate matches with wins over Air Force (26-22) and Virginia (20-16). Overall, they’ve compiled a less impressive 5-0-6 record, but those 6 losses were to clubs either ranked in the Top 5 (Open Poll including non-collegiate clubs) or teams from Canada. Army is also currently in 2nd place in the Northeast Team Handball League.
Ranked 2nd is Air Force, which as previously mentioned had a 4 goal loss to arch rival Army and has an overall 2-4 record. In December they placed 4th at the Texas Cup in Dallas with respectable losses to Chicago Inter and SF Cal Heat. Nipping at Air Force’s heels is Virginia, which has a 3-0-0 collegiate record with victories over James Madison (29-12), Army’s 2nd Team (22-21) and Carolina’s 2nd Team (25-10) to go along with their loss to top ranked Army. Virginia’s overall record is 4-1-4 and they were the top placing collegiate team (3rd) at the Fall Tar Heel Tourney.
In 4th place is Illinois St which is 4-0-0 in collegiate play with victories over Cincinnati (17-16), Ohio St (17-16), Miami (OH) 26-21, and Ohio St’s 2nd Team (19-14). Overall, though they are 4-0-4 and suffered heavy losses to Chicago Inter and Barrington, a team actually mostly composed of high schoolers. Rounding out the top 5 is Ohio St which with a 5-0-4 mark has played the most collegiate games. They won their own tournament, the Buckeye Fall Classic, but had a less than stellar performance at Miami (OH) Red Hawk Tourney.
Team Handball News Collegiate Poll Sponsorship
Bryan Cothorn will continue to organize all the statistical data and tabulate the poll votes, but after some minor wrangling I’ve convinced him to let Team Handball News sponsor the Collegiate Ranking. Bryan will also be doing polls for the Men’s and Women’s clubs, but I’m choosing to take a special interest in the college poll and the college game in general.
There’s a couple of reasons for this. First, for college sports there’s quite a bit of tradition when it comes to polling. With hundreds of colleges playing sports in a hodge podge patchwork of conferences nationwide a national poll, for better or worse, has often been the only way to gage where teams stand. Indeed, for college football it was actually how the National Champion was determined until 1998. (An absolutely ridiculous method that has now been partially fixed) Polls are a college tradition and I’m glad to see that team handball is joining the pantheon of college sports with its very own poll.
The other reason is that I think the college game should get more attention in emphasis than it does currently in this country. I highlighted some of the issues surrounding the college game in these commentaries.
In the coming weeks I’ll be following up with some additional thoughts on ways to improve the quality of play and provide greater publicity/exposure to the college game.