The NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Committee announced its top 10 ranking on Sunday, Oct. 29th as the regular season nears its finale and conference tournaments are about to begin.
Similar to what the NCAA does in other sports, the exercise gives the Committee a chance to do a preliminary ranking in advance of the November 13th selection for the actual tournament. This year's College Cup will take place at Talen Energy Stadium, which is the home venue for Major League Soccer's Philadelphia Union, in Chester, Pennsylvania.
National runner up from a year ago Wake Forest maintained the top spot, coming into the week with a 15-1 record. The Demon Deacons were followed by eight-time national champion Indiana (13-0-3), the ACC's North Carolina (13-2-1) and Clemson (11-3-0), and the Big Ten's Michigan State (11-2-2).
Duke (10-3-2) came in number six followed by Notre Dame (9-4-2) - the 5th ACC team in the top 7. The remainder of the Top 10 "seeds" were non-Power 5 conference teams in Western Michigan (13-2-1), Georgetown (11-2-1) and Akron (10-3-1).
Eight of the top 10 teams are previous national champions. Indiana leads the way with eight, followed by two-time champions Clemson, Michigan State and North Carolina. Akron, Duke, Notre Dame and Wake Forest each have hoisted the trophy once before too. The 2017 NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship will be the 59th edition.
The United Soccer Coaches (USC) Poll, the top ranking poll for college soccer, had some differences from the Committee's results. Wake Forest, Indiana, UNC, and Clemson were also the top four, but reigning champion Stanford was #5 in the current standings. Western Michigan, Michigan State followed as the 36 and #7 teams, respectively, while Florida International, Maryland, and Georgetown rounded out the Top 10 in the poll.
The USC poll also hassome intrigue further in the poll as the next ten include Louisville at 11, SMU, traditional power Virginia, and Akron at 14. Air Force, which plays soccer in the WAC conference, comes in at #15 with Notre Dame New Hampshire, and Duke. Michigan was next with Dartmouth right behind. Butler, Seattle, Washington, Cal and UMass rounded out the Top 25.
In total 12 different conferences are represented in the Top 25. The ACC leads the way with seven teams, folllowed by the Big Ten with 4, and Pac-12 with 3. The Big East, MAC, and WAC each had two teams in the poll. The diversity of the conferences shows the competitive balance of the sport at the college level. The ACC continues to show strength overall as the nation's top conference, but it evens out after them.
The conference tournaments will will likely shake up the final polls leading up to November 13th.