Jumping into the NCAA men's water polo season
The GIST: The last sport to jump into the NCAA’s fall pool is water polo, where the mostly Californian crews will beat eggs through early December. First, tread through how the fellas' pool works, then let’s dive in.
The powerhouses: Surprising absolutely no one, the two-time defending champs Cal Golden Bears are No. 1 in the preseason
pool poll, thanks in part to two-time NCAA Championship MVP senior Nikolaos Papanikolaou (pronounced pah-pah-neek-oh-L’OW), who also has a cool pair of Cutino Awards — aka water polo’s Heisman.
- Hoping to keep Cal’s budding three-peat on dry land? The LA duo, No. 2 USC and No. 3 UCLA. Along with No. 4 Stanford, these three schools have 33 (!!!) combined national trophies in their respective cases, split nearly equally. Damn.
The underdogs: Only five of the sport’s 20 ranked teams hail from outside the Golden State, and just one cracks the Top 10 — No. 8 Princeton. The Tigers have their West Coast work cut out for them, but with rising sophomore goalie West Temkin returning with a U-20 World bronze medal, the Princeton defense could contend for a natty of their own.
- Two other East Coasters are poised to make a splash: No. 18 Harvard and NYC’s own No. 15 Fordham. Not from Cali? Fuggedaboutit!
What to watch: The fellas become fish when the season-opening invitationals begin tomorrow. Harvard and unranked Brown will co-host a slate that includes three more Top 20 squads — No. 6 Pacific, No. 11 Pepperdine, and No. 15 Fordham — at the Bruno Classic, but the true titans will war in No. 11 UCSD’s Triton Invitational.