Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Century of Tradition: The other BU

Searching for "BU" on the Internet used to produce results ranging from Boston to Bucknell to Baylor. There's a fair bit of confusion about which institution is "the real BU." Of course, with Google's ability to tailor search results based on an individual's search history and IP address, the effect I refer to is somewhat more difficult to replicate. Technology tends to do that.

Still, the point remains: Which school has the rights to the second and twenty-first letters of the Roman alphabet depends largely on who you ask. Confusion isn't alleviated by limiting the query to America East. Both Boston and Binghamton lay claim to the initials. The Terriers have some advantages in this debate, being an older institution with a richer basketball history, but for our purposes we'll stick with the ultimate arbiter of hoops debates: the head-to-head results on the court.

Binghamton's first season at the Division-I level was the 2001-02 campaign, when the Terriers made their most recent trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Bearcats were just four years removed from Division-III competition. The adjustment period wasn't overly long, but it existed. Dennis Wolff's team swept the America East newcomers in each of the first three seasons. In their fourth season in the conference, the Bearcats finally won a game, splitting the season series and beating rival Albany to the punch (the Great Danes had yet to defeat Boston).

After the Terriers' initial dominance, recent years have been more balanced. While individual games haven't been close -- five of the last six contests were decided by double digits -- the overall series has evened out somewhat. The Terriers' 11-4 advantage overall, though substantial, is entirely a product of winning the first seven meetings.

Of course, outside the major conferences, tournament play is the be-all and end-all of college basketball. On America East's biggest stage, in their only meeting to date, Boston University holds the edge, winning a conference quarterfinal 62-58 in March of 2007. It's a small sample size, but Binghamton has yet to come through against the Terriers with something on the line. Until then, Boston fans will continue to insist on calling Binghamton by its full name -- there can be only one BU.

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