A “trap game” is one where the favored team has just finished a tough game, or challenging stretch of games, and is facing an opponent that could easily be overlooked but that has the ability to pull off an upset.
Tonight’s game between the Ohio State and Penn State men’s basketball teams is a classic trap game. The Buckeyes have just finished a brutal stretch of straight three games against the leaders in the Big Ten, winning on the road against Illinois, losing at home against Purdue, and then rebounding to win on the road against Michigan State. Penn State, on the other hand, has won its last two games after losing all of its prior Big Ten games. And tonight’s game, of course, is being played on Penn State’s home court.
For the Buckeyes, winning this game won’t look like much of an accomplishment, but it is the kind of game that separates really good teams from the also-rans. Really good teams win the trap games; average teams don’t.