Students frustrated with Duke's hookup culture may need to explore new methods to find that special someone-and according to IamFreeTonight.com, that is exactly what they are doing.

The free online dating website, which targets college students, ranked Duke No. 8 last week in the Top 25 Colleges for Online Dating.

The list ranks schools based on how many students from a college use the site, what features they use and how often they are contacted by students from other schools, said Clifford Lerner, CEO of eTwine Holdings, Inc., which owns IamFreeTonight.com.

Until last week, Duke was unranked on the website's Top 25 list-a feature implemented approximately one month ago. The website-which launched in January-attributed the rise of online dating at the University to the men's basketball team's early loss in the NCAA Tournament.

"We launched the rankings within a day or two that the NCAA [Tournament] began-it was on everybody's minds," said Darrell Lerner, co-founder of eTwine and Clifford Lerner's brother. "We were looking for interesting correlations, and the tournament was a natural place to turn."

Clifford Lerner speculated that dejected Cameron Crazies, who would normally be closely following the Tournament, were turning to online dating to occupy their extra time.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, however, dropped out of the website's Top 25 list after advancing in the basketball tournament, Lerner said, adding that other schools' online dating rankings also seemed to correspond to their standings in the Tournament.

But Duke junior Maanasa Indaram said she did not see any correlation between the basketball team's performance and online dating.

"It doesn't make any sense," Indaram said. "I'm in a stat class, so I could tell you all about confounding factors."

Darrell Lerner said the relationship between online dating and the NCAA Tournament was mostly meant for fun, adding that he and his brother are big basketball fans and Duke fans.

"As much as you can make it a serious, in-depth study, it's also meant to be fun," he said.

Many students, however, said they were surprised that the website found online dating prevalent at Duke.

Senior Jud Killion said he has never used an online dating website and does not know anyone who has.

"It's pretty pitiful," Killion said. "Go get a date on your own."

Freshman Chase Macer said he once logged onto a dating website as part of a prank on a friend, but added that he would not use one seriously.

"A lot of the people seemed pretty weird," Macer said. "If you have to meet people through online dating, maybe you need to work on your social life."

Although many students said they would not personally turn to online dating to meet others, they said dating websites might be appropriate for older age groups.

"Duke has a great night social scene-there are so many possibilities for meeting people," freshman Ryan McDaniel said. "Once you're out of college, it's harder to meet people in a social setting."

Clifford Lerner said students' surprise at the rankings was fair and expected.

He added that students tend to find online dating websites too serious for the college mentality.

"We want to create a casual dating type of atmosphere with features geared specifically toward college students," he said. "We looked at social networking features that worked and tried to incorporate them."

Lerner added that online dating might be more popular among juniors and seniors who have exhausted other methods of meeting people.

Some students, however, said there is no interest at Duke in dating either on or offline.

"I don't think dating itself is prevalent enough at Duke for students to be looking for even more ways to meet people," Indaram said.

Freshman Victoria Sowemimo said this culture was not unique to any particular school.

"Online dating seems like it is more to find relationships, and that's not what college students are looking for," Sowemimo said. "When college students want to meet people it is more for a hookup with someone."