Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Century of Tradition: BU and the Ivies

Yesterday's game against Harvard was the first of three contests against Ivy League schools this season -- next Tuesday's home game versus Yale and the calendar year-ending trip to Cornell are the other two. Given BU's academic, geographic, and athletic relationships with many Ivy League schools, let's take a look at how Terrier basketball has fared against the Ivies through the years.

This feature is called A Century of Tradition, but BU's basketball tradition actually begins more than 100 years ago because the 100 years does not count certain years in which no games were played. To find the beginnings of BU's basketball program, you have to go back 107 years to the 1901-1902 campaign, if you can even call it a campaign. BU had no coach and played just two games, both of which were against Brown. The results were split -- a 35-25 win for BU followed by a 36-31 defeat -- and just like that the season was over. BU opened its next season with another loss to Brown before losing to Maine in the Terriers' first game against a non-Ivy school. It was also BU's first game against an America East school.

While we're talking about Brown, let's note that BU hasn't played the Bears since December 8th, 1992, the two teams' 37th meeting and a 74-64 road win for Brown. Fittingly, BU's coach at the time was Bob Brown. Dennis Wolff has not coached a Terriers-Bears game. Still, BU's 37 games against Brown exceeds the school's total against any Ivy League school save Harvard (59 games).

Harvard, being the most natural Terrier rival of the Ivies, hasn't had success against BU in recent years but still holds a 32-27 edge all time after dominating the series in its early years. Including this year, the Crimson have been on BU's schedule for 18 consecutive seasons now, sometimes in November or early January but more frequently in December. Harvard has struggled to win at The Roof -- BU has a 9-1 record against the Crimson on that court -- but that single Terrier loss stands out. Not only was it the Terriers' first-ever loss at The Roof, but the Crimson scored 102 points, still the highest total ever posted by a BU opponent at that venue.

With 96 of BU's 133 games against Ivy opponents devoted to Brown and Harvard, there's only so many games left to go around. One Ivy school gets left out, and it's not who you might think.

Surprisingly, it's BU's hockey rival Cornell which has yet to meet the Terriers in a game, something which will be rectified in slightly less than four weeks when the team makes the trip to ice-cold Ithaca. The Terriers have played -- and been defeated by -- every other Ivy, although some teams haven't seen BU in quite some time. The Terriers have only faced Penn once, a 75-56 Quaker victory on New Year's Day, 1969.

BU doesn't have a winning record against any of the Ivies, and Cornell provides the only opportunity for the Terriers to acquire one this year. The next best thing would be a .500 record against one of the seven Ivies BU has played. While the Terriers don't have one of those at the moment either, Yale is 2-1 against BU all-time, so a Terrier win would even the score.

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