March 6, 2001

The SuMeter© Tells All

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Welcome to the unveiling of the SuMeter©, a novel, highly innovative, stupendous, extraordinary, and simply ingenious new tool to rate whatever it is you feel like rating: movies, sex lives, gambling techniques, friendships, basketball skills. You name it, it’ll rate it.

The product of 20 years of hard labor, the SuMeter©, represents what has become a growing trend in the world today: rankings. We can’t live a single day without making choices from a list based on some random criteria that some random group of people put together. In fact, whole books and magazines are geared towards satisfying our desire to know of the best (see the Top 10 of Everything, and The Consumer Reports). With the SuMeter©, we have decided to add a wise finality to the fray.

As a tester, we decided to rate the best professional football teams in the world. A scale of 1 to 10 is used, in which 10 is the team with the best offensive and defensive balance, MVPs at every position and special teams to shock a conscience, and 1 is a team that would field me as quarterback. The SuMeter© correctly rated the 1983 Washington Redskins with a 10, and the 2001 Chicago Enforcers with a -5.

Stunned by our success, we decided to rate the best schools in the nation as well, where 10 represents the school with the most spirit, best academics and best athletics, and 1 is your local community college. Lo and behold, Cornell rated first with a score of 10. Somewhat unsurprisingly, Harvard rated last.

The SuMeter’s© first real challenge was to rate the best men’s college basketball teams on the eve of Selection Sunday. The system rewards teams for winning, as any good system would do, but also takes into account ranked opponents, the ability to play away from home, seasonal momentum, coach ingenuity, player fatigue, upset potential, team tendencies and sneaker traction. On a scale of 1-10, where 10 represents John Wooden’s mighty Bruins of the 1960s, and 1 represents 1-25 St. Mary’s College, the following printout of rankings was produced:

10. Georgetown (Rating = 3.20): How quickly had we forgotten that this team won its first 16 games before posting a loss. And speaking of losses, the Hoyas only have one loss greater than 10 points to its name. Look for this team to reach the Final Four.

9. Illinois (Rating 3.40): Cause: Team nondescript.

8. Kansas (Rating 3.55): The cheerleaders, the fans, the coach . . . they’ve got it all up there in Lawrence — except for quality wins over quality opponents. Win all you want, but if you don’t play the big boys, you don’t get the big rankings.

7. Iowa State (Rating = 3.60): Under the leadership of guard Jamaal Tinsley, the Cyclones defeated all four ranked teams they faced. The team faltered against Texas two weeks ago, and that is all that is keeping them from the top five. Look for this team to reach the sweet 16 before its opponents figure out ways to stop Tinsley.

6. Maryland (Rating 3.70): This is a team whose finishing act was much stronger than its overture. In its last five games, the Terrapins defeated four top-20 teams, including Duke and Virginia. Maryland averaged 95 points over seven straight games during the heart of its season.

5. UNC (Rating 3.73): The ‘Heels have the ability to pull off 18-game winning streaks, but lost three of their last five. After knocking off six ranked opponents, they then lost to Clemson. Offensive flair is its forte (and vice versa), and this team can break out of a slump almost at will. Unfortunately, UNC has never won a title when the sum of the numbers of that year add up to three. And it never will.

4. Florida (Rating 4.00): The Gators are the hottest team on the circuit right now, having beaten four ranked teams in their last five games. A team’s season ending run is often indicative of its success in the postseason, and no one has done it better than Florida. Look for them in the Elite Eight.

3. Stanford (Rating 4.70): Yes, they’ve got a handful of rather skillful players, but the team hasn’t really been tested this season. It has played only four ranked teams (with one impressive one-point win over Duke), and hasn’t dominated the lesser ones. With a history of postseason chokes, not even Heimlich can save them this time around.

2. Michigan State (Rating 5.20): Led by a quintet of seniors, the Spartans have the most experience out of any team in the bunch. Having been tested by Cornell early on in the season (an 89-56 thriller), this team is undoubtedly ready to make a second straight run to the Final Four.

1. Duke (Rating 7.10): Two words: Shane Battier. Two more words: Jason Williams. One final word: Boozer. The Blue Devils have all the legs, arms, and muscle to make a run at the title, as they do every year. What’s different about this team is its hunger, having battled 13 ranked opponents and beating nine of them. They have scored more than 90 points 20 times this season — more than any other school in the nation. The recent win over UNC paired with Boozer’s eventual return will give Duke enough confidence, and focus, to win the cham Cause: UCLA.

Archived article by Sumeet Sarin