The NCAA season is finally in full swing, and there have been few surprises so far. The defending champion North Carolina Tar Heels come into the season as perennial favorites, while Akron head coach Caleb Porter looks to help lift the Zips to one more national title before he makes the jump to MLS.
1. North Carolina (3-0-0)
To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man. And so far no one has been able to do that, as the defending national champs are 3-0-0 with just one goal allowed.
2. Akron (2-0-1)
Caleb Porter’s boys boast an incredibly talented squad with a mix of solid seniors and electrifying underclassmen.
3. South Florida (3-0-0)
The Bulls come into 2012 bringing an experienced squad loaded with upperclassmen and they have three good wins to open the year.
4. Creighton (2-0-1)
Last year’s NCAA semifinalists look strong once again and a 1-1 draw with Akron this weekend proves they’re for real.
5. Maryland (2-0-1)
Sacho Cirovski’s men have two good wins and a respectable draw with UCLA to open their season. Could two freshmen in the defensive back four be an issue?
6. New Mexico (2-1-0)
The Lobos had their 23-game unbeaten streak snapped in overtime at Tulsa on Friday night, but recovered with a nice win over SMU on Sunday.
7. Connecticut (2-0-0)
The Huskies may not have Tony Cascio anymore, but they return 7 starters from their NCAA quarterfinal team of last year including top ranked goalkeeper Andre Blake.
8. UCLA (1-1-1)
Don’t let the record fool you, UCLA fell to New Mexico to open the year but drew at Maryland and won at Virginia this weekend.
9. UC Santa Barbara (2-0-1)
Luis Silva and Sam Garza have moved on, but the Gauchos have reloaded with a squad that did well in a tournament at Gonzaga over the weekend.
10. UNC Charlotte (2-0-1)
Six starters return from last year’s national finalists and they’ve left it late in games early this year, but have two overtime wins.
11. St. John’s (3-0-1)
Two good wins at the Gamecock Classic in South Carolina have the Red Storm on the NCAA radar again after a tough end to 2011
12. UC Irvine (3-0-0)
Three solid wins to open the season for the defending Big West champs. Games against Stanford and UCLA loom next weekend to prove whether the Anteaters are for real.
13. Notre Dame (3-0-0)
Great wins over Duke, SDSU and Clemson have the Fighting Irish raising eyebrows. Look out for senior midfielder Dillon Powers who could be a first round pick in 2013.
14. Louisville (1-1-0)
The Cardinals were beaten 3-0 at Maryland to open the season, but recovered with a win against Belmont on Saturday night.
15. Indiana (3-0-1)
Indiana opened 2012 with two good wins at the Saint Louis Tournament and has allowed just one goal in four games. They have a showdown with Akron on Friday night.
16. Georgetown (4-0-0)
The Hoyas have four very good wins to open the season. Look out for New York Red Bulls Academy freshman Brandon Allen with three goals in four games.
17. Wake Forest (3-0-0)
Wake Forest has opened the season with three wins and just one goal allowed. Three straight tough away games coming up will prove their meddle.
18. Alabama-Birmingham (2-1-1)
The Blazers stumbled a bit this weekend, but a draw at the UNC Charlotte is never a bad result. They travel to New Mexico for a huge game this weekend.
19. Washington (3-0-1)
Don’t sleep on the Huskies. Wins over Gonzaga, Cal Poly and Wisconsin coupled with a draw against a good CS Bakersfield side have Washington on the radar
20. NC State (4-0-0)
The Wolfpack boast an undefeated record, though against some less than impressive competition. An ACC conference schedule will give them a chance to impress.
21. Old Dominion (2-0-0)
A darkhorse ODU side scored a great win at UCF this weekend and boasts a potential first round draft pick in forward Yannick Smith who scored 16 goals in 20 games last year.
22. Tulsa (2-0-1)
An extremely young Hurricane squad struggled mightily last year, but a fantastic win over New Mexico and close loss to South Florida means they could be coming of age.
23. Furman (3-1-0)
Not a bad week for the Paladins, who saw famous alumni Clint Dempsey move to Tottenham and beat Stanford 2-0 on Sunday afternoon.
24. Marquette (4-0-0)
The Golden Eagles have a perfect record in non-conference games against Midwest competition. We will know more about them during Big East play
25. Cal State Bakersfield (0-1-2)
Two words: Gyasi Zardes. The junior from Hawthorne, Calif., had 18 goals in 20 games last year. He could potentially sign a Homegrown deal with the Galaxy unless Europe snaps him up.