Butler Basketball: Bulldogs Must Avoid Trap Game with LaSalle

Eric SmithCorrespondent IIIJanuary 22, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 20: Butler Bulldogs and fans celebrate at Hinkle Fieldhouse on January 19, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Butler defeated Gonzaga 64-63. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

It's been a historic season for the Butler Bulldogs.

After playing in two straight National Championship games, they've jumped out to a 16-2 start overall and are 3-0 in year one of Atlantic 10 play.

The season has been one for the ages ever since an impressive Roteni Clarke one-handed three-point heave fell as time expired to beat Marquette 72-71 in the first round of the Maui Invitational.

They followed that up by an impressive 82-71 victory over then No. 9 North Carolina.

After that, they managed two huge Big Ten victories. The first at Northwestern, when they were at full strength, followed by a victory of the ages over then top ranked Indiana in overtime. Alex Barlow hit a shot with less than three seconds remaining, propelling the Bulldogs to a victory.

The Bulldogs then went on to win convincingly over the rest of their opponents until Saturday night's nationally televised victory over visiting Gonzaga, where butler showed more magic when Roosevelt Jones hit a one-handed heave in the lane as time expired, giving Butler the 64-63 win.

It was the first time ESPN College Gameday has come to Hinkle Fieldhouse, and the network kept referencing the movie Hoosiers and all the magic and feel of Indiana basketball.

The win has everyone talking in Indianapolis.

Butler may actually be not just the best team in the state, but the entire nation. They've beat three Top 10 teams and have won many of their major games in dramatic fashion. They've had two game-winning shots at the buzzer and one with less than three seconds left.


With that said, Butler must avoid the trap game with LaSalle tomorrow night.

The Explorers aren't a bad team as they sit 12-5 and are 2-2 in conference play. Butler has the rare feat of playing with the target on their back now after being the hunters all season.

LaSalle knows how much talent is in the Atlantic 10 Conference, and a signature win over the hottest team in America would give them that resume-building victory that could help in March.

Butler hasn't lost in over two months and may be looking forward to their home matchup with the Temple Owls on Saturday. Once again, that game will be on ESPN with the sister station ESPN 2 picking up the game.

The Owls are a very good team and play physical. They will give Butler a good game. If they can get by Temple, there's no reason Butler can't win its next eight games going into the big road matchup at VCU on March 2.

The Bulldogs know the importance of beating Temple and staying way ahead of everyone else in the conference.

Butler knows they could earn a one seed in the tournament if they take care of business and would love to play at home in the Indianapolis regional, as the site is Lucas Oil Stadium, just a couple miles from their home court in Hinkle Fieldhouse.

They know what's at stake, and the game with LaSalle is the biggest trap game of the year for them.

If there's any coach that will have his team focused to not overlook the Explorers, it's Brad Stevens.

But, these are 18-22-year-old kids coming off of another thrilling victory on national TV with another one of those games staring at them in the face on Saturday.

If they want one of the top two or three seeds in March, they have to win tomorrow night.


Follow Eric on Twitter @ericsportsguru