I give each team a numerical rating, then rank them accordingly. The ratings are done by formula; my own judgment entered the process only when I first devised the formula.
These ratings avoid the disadvantages, but thereby pass up the advantages, of utilizing game scores or scoring differentials. For example, if West State beats East College 40 to 30, then neither the fact that the score was 40 to 30 nor that West State won by 10 enters the formula: it only uses the fact that West State won the game against East College. Thus a team that wishes to positively affect its rating cannot do so by running up scores and conversely, a team that forgoes running up scores has not adversely affected its rating. No doubt these ratings suffer by overlooking this valuable information, but fortunately others provide rating and ranking systems that make good use of it. I merely offer an alternate look.
The formula does take into account the ratings of each team's opponents, and thereby rewards quality wins. However, it does not take into account previous seasons, injuries, recruiting, or any other game or performance factors such as yardage gained in football, shooting percentage in basketball, etc.
I sometimes calculate the ratings from the very beginning of the season but early-season ratings show very little relation to ratings calculated during the latter part of the season. This is true to of any poll or rating system, but it is far more the case for ratings based solely on wins and losses.
John Wobus, 3/22/01
Wobus Sports: www.vaporia.com/sports