As a pollster for the Buffalo News, I'm asked to send in my weekly ballots ranking the top ten large and small schools. The polls are based on games played through Sunday of each week. Here's a look at how I see them and some of the rationale used to get there.
1. Canisius (MMA) - The Crusaders are looking for an unblemished mark in the MMA. Three games to go, including a date with Timon on Thursday, and then a regular season finale against their rivals in the game of the week.
2. Niagara Falls (AA) - Got back in the win column by blasting Kenmore West. Host seemingly improved Lockport tonight.
3. Jamestown (AA) - After winning at West Seneca West this week, the Red Raiders can celebrate a three-peat at the top of ECIC I.
4. St. Joe's (MMA) - Got hold of a banged up Timon squad last week and showed no mercy in an explosive third quarter. Nonleaguers with Frontier & Sweet Home preceed their biggest game of the season against Canisius on Saturday. They could still earn the top seed in the Manhattan Cup playoffs with a win on the court and a win on a coin toss (call tails).
5. Williamsville North (AA) - Close out league play against Orchard Park and then finish off the regular season by entering district rival Williamsville East's place on Thursday.
6. McKinley (A1) - Beat Riverside tonight and Hutch-Tech tomorrow, the Yale Cup is all yours.
7. Clarence (AA) - No upset losses for the Red Devils this year, who are the only blemish on both Amherst and Oracle Charter's records. Also the reason North has no hopes of winning ECIC I. I wouldn't want to play them in sectionals.
8. Amherst (A2) - The Tigers lay a 13-game win streak on the line tomorrow night when they host a Depew team that's heating up at just the right time.
9. Timon/St. Jude (MMA) - In desperate need of a win when they host Aquinas on Tuesday night.
10. Williamsville South (A1) - The Billies finally get their turn at the revolving 10th spot in the large school poll (or at least this ballot). A ridiculously hot start at Sweet Home on Friday night has them believing in their chances to win it all in Class A.
1. Olean (B1) - Saw Maple Grove for the first time on Saturday and was very impressed. These Huskies beat them 42 points!
2. Silver Creek (C2) - Riding a 17-game win streak with just three of those wins by single digits. The closest game was against Randolph, a seven-point win, who they rolled by 26 in the rematch.
3. Oracle Charter (C1) - Also riding a 17-game win streak, and only two of those wins were by single digits...the closest being a five-point win at McKinley.
4. Nichols (MMA) - Hung tough against the best in WNY (Canisius) and then routed Walsh the following night. Huge game at St. Mary's this Friday.
5. East (B2) - Slid them down a spot on this ballot after watching the McKinley game get away from them. The Panthers host their sweethearts from Middle College on Valentine's Day.
6. Cleveland Hill (B2) - The Eagles had their chance to beat Holland and celebrate an outright league title postponed. They'll just have to do it this week instead.
7. Maple Grove (C2) - Seeing is believing. Lopsided box scores against CCAA III teams make it hard to gauge just how good a team is. Watching them fly all over the court at Randolph was all the proof I needed...these guys can ball.
8. Middle College (C1) - It's hard to believe that last season's state runners-up in Class C are just the fourth ranked C team on my ballot, but that's how I see them right now. A visit to East on Thursday is a great way to brush up for sectionals.
9. Lackawanna (B1) - Only losses on the season were against Cleveland Hill and Batavia.
10. St. Mary's (MMA) - How's this for ending the regular season with a bang? Home games against Nichols and Cleveland Hill will tell us if we've had the Lancers ranked too low, or just right.