La Salle hasn't been to the NCAA tournament in more than two decades. The last time was 1992 in fact, but the Explorers might be able to get there this year if they can finish the rest of the season strong in the gritty A-10, especially after pulling off a huge 54-53 upset of No. 9 Butler.
Go ahead, tell us you saw that one coming.
It seems like it was just a few days ago that Butler fans were storming their home court to celebrate a victory over Gonzaga on a last-second shot. Who knew Wednesday night the Bulldogs would watch a similar scene on the opposite end of the emotional spectrum? La Salle fans engulfed their team twice – once after Ramon Galloway took the ball the length of the court to deposit the winning basket and a second time after officials cleared the court to review the ending before deciding the game was over.
The roller coaster ride this game provides night in and night out sure can be fun. Seems like every other night someone is beating the No. 1 team in the nation and fans are storming a court somewhere.
La Salle has plenty of reason to be optimistic about its NCAA chances. It's playing in one of the tougher leagues, it played some decent teams in the nonconference portion of its schedule and now has a signature victory over a team that has the parts to contend for a Final Four.
And the Explorers have the pain of last season's disappointment fueling them. They won 21 games a year ago only to fall flat at the wrong time in the conference tournament and they fell to the NIT. They sure seemed hungry Wednesday.
Some will certainly question whether the outcome would have been the same if Butler star Rotnei Clarke could have played. He missed his third straight game with a sprained neck. But that isn't La Salle's fault and it shouldn't be held against them in March, especially if they finish strong.
On the flip side, Butler coach Brad Stevens, seemingly always cool and collected, is taking the right approach by not getting too upset over a one-point loss to the Explorers. If you asked him at the beginning of the season if he would be happy to get through all of December and most of January with just one loss, he probably would have taken it considering two of the games in that stretch were against Indiana and Gonzaga.
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