Spring weather arrived this week and crowds swelled. Five playoff-caliber teams lost this week: Princeton, UMBC, UMass, Navy and Hofstra. Two more weeks of regular-season lacrosse remain. In the middle of March, I felt as if Virginia and Syracuse were in a class of their own -- but both have since lost and both have been involved in nail-biters. The road to Foxborough is as wide-open as it's ever been. Conference play for automatic qualifiers starts this weekend in the Patriot League.
Quint's Power Rankings
Previous ranking: 1
Virginia beat Dartmouth 13-6 in front of 4,080 fans in Charlottesville. It was the first legitimately hot day of spring and Dartmouth ran out of gas after giving the Cavaliers everything they could handle. Dartmouth took nine of the first 10 faceoffs and won the ground-ball battle. The Wahoos play in ACC semifinal No. 2 on Friday night against Duke, a team that beat them 15-10 on April 11. It's an ideal test to see if they've made defensive improvements and to see if their offense is capable of sharing the ball.
Previous ranking: 3
The Orange took care of Albany 15-13 on Friday night behind fourth-quarter heroics from Dan Hardy, Stephen Keogh and Kenny Nims. SU meets UMass on Saturday in one of the nastiest rivalries in Division I lacrosse.
Previous ranking: 6
An audience of 8,026 watched Cornell silence rival Princeton 10-7 and take a big step toward an Ivy League title. Cornell has losses to Virginia and Syracuse, surrendering a combined 29 goals in those losses. Cornell won 14 of 19 faceoffs Saturday thanks to John Glynn and possessed the ball for 6 minutes, 33 seconds before Max Seibald scored the Big Red's ninth goal in the fourth quarter. They travel to Providence on Saturday to face Brown.
In three games this spring, Princeton's offense has struggled -- the Tigers scored six goals in a win against UMBC, seven in a loss to Hofstra and seven in Saturday's loss to Cornell. They put only 14 shots on goal against Cornell. The Big Red shut down Rich Sgalardi (1 assist) and Scott MacKenzie (1 assist); the duo combined to shoot 0-for-8. The Tigers will try to take down Dartmouth on Saturday at noon.
5. Notre Dame
Previous ranking: 4
The Fighting Irish beat Quinnipiac 10-2 on Saturday and St. John's 12-2 on Sunday. But more important for Notre Dame is that North Carolina upset Hofstra and Bucknell beat Colgate. Notre Dame has wins over Bucknell, Loyola and UNC. The Irish will be tested by Ohio State on Saturday before the annual Buckeye spring football game. Can the Irish stay unbeaten amid a sea of scarlet and gray?
Last week: 7
The Blue Devils have won eight of their past nine -- this week handling Army 10-6. Two weeks after Duke beat Virginia in Durham, the Blue Devils once again face the Cavaliers in the ACC tournament. Division I lacrosse would be ideal for an ACC-Ivy League Challenge or an ACC-ECAC Challenge with matchups such as Loyola-Virginia, Maryland-UMass, North Carolina-Brown and Duke-Princeton. Those new and refreshing matchups would further strengthen or weaken conference bragging rights and provide clarity for the NCAA tournament selection committee. Instead fans are stuck with the redundancy of the ACC tournament, rematch upon rematch upon rematch without an automatic qualifier.
7. North Carolina
Previous ranking: 10
Billy Bitter found the net four times and Sean Delaney scored three as UNC got a big win on the road at Hofstra in front of 6,661 fans. The Tar Heels won the game behind a 5-1 third quarter. Ben Hunt was involved in four goals and Shane Walterhoefer won 17 of 25 draws. First-year coach Joe Breschi and his staff have done a wonderful job in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels are still looking for an ACC win.
8. Johns Hopkins
Previous ranking: 11
Hopkins gashed Navy's defense for 15 goals Saturday afternoon in front of 6,925 fans at a sun-baked Homewood Field. The Blue Jays are at Towson on Wednesday night. Coach Dave Pietramala is 42-2 against teams from the state of Maryland.
Previous ranking: 5
The Pride fell at home to North Carolina, bolstering the entire ACC. They have wins over Princeton, UMass and Brown -- five of their nine wins are by one goal. The Pride face off against Stony Brook on Tuesday and Villanova on Saturday before the CAA tournament.
Previous ranking: 13
Loyola's win against Fairfield and UMass' loss to Georgetown puts Loyola right back in the battle for the ECAC automatic bid. The Greyhounds tackle Hobart in an ECAC contest Saturday in Baltimore. Loyola has only one quality win, over Georgetown. The ECAC has struggled out of conference this year -- the entire eight-team conference has wins against Harvard, Delaware, Ohio State, Bucknell and Maryland -- that's it. I just don't see two teams from the ECAC in the NCAA tournament.
Previous ranking: 8
The Retrievers were caught napping by Hartford and lost 10-8 in Connecticut. Hartford is now 2-10 on the year. Faceoffs and goaltending made the difference for the Hawks. UMBC and Vermont meet Saturday in Baltimore (ESPNU, 1 p.m. ET).
Previous ranking: 12
The Midshipmen played Johns Hopkins without attackman Tim Paul, their best offensive player, due to his ankle injury. For the 36th straight time Navy fell to Hopkins -- it's always been difficult for Navy to recover from the Army rivalry game. Navy has wins over Ohio State, Georgetown, Maryland and Army. The Mids travel to Colgate on Friday for a Patriot League semifinal contest.
Previous ranking: 14
The Terps trounced Binghamton 15-6 midweek and shut down Penn 10-2 on Saturday. Maryland is clinging to wins over Duke and UNC as playoff ammo. The ACC redundancy tournament starts Friday with Maryland and North Carolina renewing their rivalry at 5 p.m. Maybe they'll meet for a third time in the NCAA tournament.
Previous ranking: 16
The Bears welcome Cornell to campus Saturday and finish up on May 2 at Princeton. The time for goalie Jordan Burke to dominate is now. Brown has wins over UMass and Harvard and is getting nearly four points per game from sophomore Andrew Feinberg.
Previous ranking: 18
Scott Kocis had a big afternoon with four points as Georgetown beat UMass 10-7 on Saturday in Amherst. The Hoyas host Rutgers this weekend.
Previous ranking: 9
The Minutemen dropped a key game Saturday at home to Georgetown. UMass is at Fairfield on Tuesday in a dangerous look-ahead game. It will be tempted to shift its attention to Saturday's square-off with Syracuse in Amherst. UMass and SU don't get along. But first things first -- UMass needs an ECAC win Tuesday.
Previous ranking: Not ranked
The Bison dusted Colgate 19-11 this week to earn home field for the Patriot League tournament. Bucknell is 2-6 out of conference this spring. Austin Winter is one of the nation's best passers and faceoff man Jake Clarke wins at a 63 percent clip.
Previous ranking: 17
The Crimson entertain Yale on April 25.
Previous ranking: 15
The Red Raiders couldn't stop Bucknell, falling 19-11 in the battle for first place in the Patriot League. Brandon Corp and Cornell freshman Rob Pannell are battling for national scoring leader honors. Corp is a Tewaaraton favorite and Pannell isn't even a nominee. Go figure.
20. Penn State
Previous ranking: Not ranked
Don't look now -- Penn State has won four straight games in April against Hobart, Bucknell, St. John's and Rutgers.
Quint Kessenich covers college and professional lacrosse for ESPN. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.