Friday, February 6, 2009

A Century of Tradition: Reversing the Agganis Curse

The important question, of course, is whether the curse even exists or not, which is debatable. So consider this to be A Century of Tradition: Fox News Edition. We'll report, you'll decide -- this time, without accusations of bias!

Last night's victory against the University at Albany was a rare occurrence for the Terriers -- a win in Agganis Arena. Those wins don't come very often. BU has played 17 games at Agganis when you include the 2007 America East Tournament; that's a small enough number that we can list all of them:

BU 61, Vermont 55 (02/12/2005)
Northeastern 63, BU 48 (02/20/2005)
Michigan 51, BU 46 (11/22/2005)
Rhode Island 48, BU 38 (11/29/2005)
BU 43, Vermont 41 (01/22/2006)
Maine 53, BU 51 (01/29/2006)
George Wash. 70, BU 57 (11/10/2006)
UMass 56, BU 54 (12/06/2006)
BU 62, Binghamton 58 (03/03/2007)*
Albany 59, BU 49 (03/04/2007)*
Saint Joseph's 57, BU 48 (11/17/2007)
Vermont 70, BU 57 (01/25/2008)
G. Wash. 63, BU 58 (OT) (11/14/2008)
Marshall 84, BU 80 (12/06/2008)
Holy Cross 68, BU 49 (01/02/2009)
Vermont 70, BU 56 (01/14/2009)
BU 77, Albany 67 (02/05/2009)
*Denotes America East Tournament

The Terriers' record in those 17 contests is 4-13, but separating the games by opponent is revealing. BU sports an 0-8 record against non-conference foes at The Greek and a 4-5 record in America East play (3-4 in the regular season, 1-1 in the 2007 America East Tournament). Considering that the majority of the conference games at Agganis have been against teams in the conference's upper tier, specifically Vermont and Albany, a 4-5 record is respectable if somewhat less than outstanding. If there's a Curse of Harry Agganis to be found, the second half of the season is where to look.

No, the meat of a pro-curse argument is found in the non-conference schedule. Is BU's record a product of a curse or tough scheduling? Here are BU's opponents' resum├ęs in the years they visited Agganis (listed as: overall record (conference record and finish), conference postseason, other postseason):

2005-06 Michigan: 22-11 (8-8 Big Ten, 7th of 11), lost in opening round, lost in NIT championship game
2005-06 Rhode Island: 14-14 (8-8 A10, 8th of 14), lost in opening round.
2006-07 George Washington: 23-9 (11-5 A10, 3rd of 14), won tournament, lost in NCAA Round of 64
2006-07 UMass: 24-9 (13-3 A10, 2nd of 14), lost in Atlantic 10 quarterfinals and NIT Round of 16
2007-08 Saint Joseph's: 18-11 (9-7 A10, 5th of 14), lost in Atlantic 10 finals and NCAA Round of 64
2008-09 George Washington: currently 6-13 (0-7 A10, 14th of 14)
2008-09 Marshall: currently 9-13 (2-6 CUSA, 11th of 12)
2008-09 Holy Cross: currently 11-11 (6-1 Patriot, T-1st of 8)

BU has not played in a postseason tournament since the 2004-05 season, when the Terriers went to the NIT, so none of the four tournament teams on this list are ones BU should be expected to beat. There is also evidence that the Terriers are playing their more difficult conference games at Agganis. However, all of this season's Agganis games were winnable ones, and UMass escaped defeat at the Greek by the narrowest of margins two years ago. Surely zero wins in eight tries is below expectations.

If BU is affected by their second home venue, there's most likely evidence in the box scores beyond wins and losses. But what precisely? That's another topic for another day.

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