(Unranked)Was not ranked the week before.
First number indicates how much the team has moved in the rankings.
The second number indicates where that team was ranked the week before.
25. Virginia Cavaliers (-3 / 22)
I'm not really sure I can figure this team out. They weren't a powerhouse by any means, but they had some respectable performances here and there. Their win at the Penn State Open was nice to have on their resume, and although they had solid talent, they never really gave us that "wow" factor. Their season has ended a week earlier than expected after finishing 3rd in the Southeast, and now we are left wondering what will happen to them a year from now.
24. Oklahoma State Cowboys (-4 / 20)
The Cowboys had been putting together a string of solid performances, but their 4th place finish at the Midwest Regional Championships was concerning. Losing to Iowa State was no surprise, but to lose to Bradley AND Tulsa in the same meet? If Oklahoma State didn't race at Nuttycombe, they (and Tulsa) would not have qualified for Nationals.
23. Arkansas Razorbacks (0 / 23)
They got the job done by cruising to another South Central title. We'll see more from them next week.
22. UCLA Bruins (-4 / 18)
It was an absolutely crazy year when it came to national qualifying and despite finishing 6th in the West region, the Bruins are not making the trip to Nationals. After placing 4th in the Pre-Nats White race, I was convinced this team could be Top 20 at Nationals. Obviously, we won't get to see if that was true or not, but this is still a top team that will be incredibly dangerous when they return Brandt in 2019.
21. Indiana Hoosiers (0 / 21)
Kyle Mau has proven to be a legitimate low-stick after his 4th place finish at the Great Lakes Regional Championships this past weekend. His supporting cast hasn't always been terrific, but they've been good enough to be competitive and earn a national qualifier. Kudos to this group who was only three points off from Purdue.
20. Michigan Wolverines (Unranked)
This team is so difficult to figure out. When they have an off day, it's not pretty. But when they all race at their best? You get a 3rd place finish in the Great Lakes region. The sophomore duo John Aho and Issac Harding have become reliable leaders for this team while the rest of the lineup lacks glaring weaknesses.
Youth can lead to inconsistency and that is a cautionary aspect to consider at Nationals. However, I think they may have some of the best depth in the country and that should be extremely beneficial in a large race this Saturday.
19. Ole Miss Rebels (0 / 19)
No surprise here as the Rebels cruised to an easy win in the South region by putting five men in the top 15 and six men in the top 20. They have a strong lineup with a few respectable low-sticks. They'll be interesting to watch this weekend.
18. Colorado State Rams (-3 / 15)
It's hard to rank this team at #18 despite a respectable 4th place team finish at the Mountain Regional Championships. However, with news that top ace Cole Rockhold is injured and most likely out for Nationals, I'm not sure what to expect from this group on the big stage.
I'm a big believer in Eric Hamer, and Carson Hume has been respectable top scorer for the Rams this season. Still, Rockhold gave this team an edge and I'm not sure I can rank them ahead of Wyoming with him not in the lineup.
17. Wyoming Cowboys (0 / 17)
Wyoming hasn't been incredible as of late, but they have been consistent enough to keep their ranking. They finished 6th in the Mountain region and were three points behind Southern Utah. This is a very solid team that has a lot strengths, but they've never been nationally recognized like this before. It will be interesting to see how they handle the big stage in Madison, Wisconsin.
16. Eastern Kentucky Colonels (0 / 16)
The Colonels finished runner-up in the Southeast region to NC State, although I'm sure they knew that they were locks to qualify for Nationals (barring a tragic collapse). They have an elite low-stick, respectable supporting scorers, experience, and (reasonably) good depth. Still, I can't find a race that justifies them being in the top 15...yet.
15. NC State Wolfpack (+9 / 24)
I am kicking myself for doubting NC State. It was such a dumb move to pick against a team with a legendary head coach, solid pack running, and a history of success in the postseason. Sure enough, the Wolfpack won the team title in the Southeast region and earned yet another trip to Nationals.
14. Air Force Falcons (-1 / 13)
A 6th place team finish in the Mountain region was cutting it awfully close, but the Falcons did enough to qualify. Nathan Thomas continues to progress into a top scorer for this team after placing 19th this past weekend while Trevor Siniscalchi finished 23rd. The biggest surprise was seeing Mickey Davey place 36th. I expected him to be the low-stick that this team can lean on, but that wasn't the case this weekend.
13. Purdue Boilermakers (+1 / 14)
The Boilermakers had to know that they were going to qualify for Nationals, but that didn't stop Jaret Carpenter from taking the Great Lakes title and from Curt Eckstein finishing 8th. The team would finish 4th overall, one spot behind Michigan and only three points ahead of Indiana. Despite the shaky performance, this is still one of the best teams in the NCAA who were simply focused on making it to Madison. I imagine they'll rebound this weekend.
12. Oregon Ducks (0 / 12)
A 5th place finish in the West region is about what we expected from the Oregon Ducks. They're a respectable team, but they don't have enough firepower to contend with some of the best programs in the nation.
11. Syracuse Orange (0 / 11)
Just another day at the office for the Syracuse Orange who cruised to an easy win for the Northeast title. They have bigger fish to fry this weekend.
10. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (0 / 10)
After placing 5th in the Pre-Nats White race and winning the ACC title, I didn't think we would see a hard effort from Notre Dame who were comfortably in qualifying position. However, the Fighting Irish left nothing to chance by putting four men in the top 23 with their fifth scorer finishing in 38th. Will the men from South Bend be able to post another strong performance after (what seemed to be) a grueling race this past weekend?
9. Colorado Buffaloes (0 / 9)
Joe Klecker led the Buffaloes to a 3rd place finish with an impressive individual win. Colorado held their own with three men in the top 12 and their top five in the top 26. Their fifth scorer has been a concern this season, so it's good to see that they were able to put their entire scoring lineup inside the top 30.
8. Boise State Broncos (0 / 8)
Boise State seemed very unconcerned with securing a high finish, but they still finished 3rd in the West region. They've got a solid lineup with a number of individuals who can emerge as the top scorer if needed.
7. Washington Huskies (0 / 7)
First it was Anderson, then it was Proctor, then it was Hull, now back to Anderson. The Huskies have three men who like legitimate low-sticks (depending on the day) and I think that will be a huge factor to consider when we talk about the podium. They finished 2nd in the West region (only five points behind Portland), and when you look at the overall results, you can't help but think that there is even more room to improve.
6. Iowa State Cyclones (0 / 6)
As expected, Iowa State took home the Midwest title with relative ease. Kurgat looks like a sleeper pick for the national title while the rest of the lineup is filled with plenty of upside. They can contend for the podium if they keep the gaps in their scoring at a minimum.
5. Wisconsin Badgers (0 / 5)
The Badgers put together another solid performance to win the Great Lakes title, but it's clear that they were focused on Nationals. The trio of McDonald, Hoare, and Hacker could end their seasons as All-Americans and if that happens, then a podium finish seems very reasonable.
4. Portland Pilots (0 / 4)
Portland continues to roll after securing the West region title. Hauger took home the title and will attempt to carry that momentum into Nationals where he hopes to finish among the top 10. If the Pilots are going to return to the podium, Roudolff-Levisse needs to be the same All-American star that he was last year.
3. Stanford Cardinal (0 / 3)
The Stanford men took it easy and cruised to a 4th place finish. They knew they didn't need to do anything special and with the main focus being Nationals, I can't blame them.
2. BYU Cougars (0 / 2)
1. Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (0 / 1)
Top two programs in the nation, top two teams in the Mountain region. Both teams seemed to put forth a solid effort, but the real challenge will come on Saturday. The Lumberjacks are heavy favorites, but if anyone can pull off the upset, it will be the Brigham Young men.
JUST MISS (in no order)
Michigan State Spartans
Washington State Cougars
Southern Utah Thunderbirds
WHO TO WATCH (in no order)
Army Black Knights
UNC Tar Heels
Utah State Aggies
Wake Forest Deacons
Florida State Seminoles
SURPRISE OF THE WEEK
Did ANYONE expect Bradley to qualify for Nationals? Ok, maybe anyone other than Bradley? We knew this team had talent, but they shocked the nation by earning the second automatic qualifying spot in the Midwest region. This may be one of the greatest Cinderella stories of collegiate cross country in the past decade (or ever).
TEAM OF THE WEEK
They underwhelmed at Nuttycombe and were soundly defeated by Georgetown at the BIG East Championships. That, however, didn't deter them from succeeding this past weekend. The Wildcats pulled off a huge upset in the Mid-Atlantic region to beat out the Hoyas for the final automatic qualifying spot. Talk about thriving under pressure...
If I had to choose a 26th team, it would go to Southern Utah. They've been wildly inconsistent and have had some brutal races, but finishing 5th in the Mountain region and 10th at Nuttycombe are performances we can't forget about.
Furman finished 4th in the Southeast region and with Michigan earning the 3rd spot in the Great Lakes, it's tough to find a spot for the Paladins.