It seems that there has been a huge increase in the use of the term "trap game" on these boards this season. What is a trap game? As far as I can tell, it appears to just mean any game Duke might lose that is not against a ranked opponent. Is that right? In that case, can we just stipulate that all games against unranked opponents are trap games? And, while we're at it, let's just shorten it to "game" since the "trap" doesn't mean anything.
Or, is there a more interesting definition?
I think the term was used in reference to VT b/c that match-up came only 2 days after the big first-place match-up vs FSU, because we were still mentally (and physically) recovering from FSU. I don't think it'll be used much this week in reference to Wake b/c, rightly or wrongly, the perception is that Wake isn't really capable of beating Duke (i.e. we could play poorly and still win) even if we were looking ahead to the NC game instead of focusing on the task at-hand.
....analogy would be a person walking a path and then stepping into a trap while looking too far ahead (or back).
This is just a personal thing, but I tend to only call games before a big game a "trap" game. I tend to categorize games after a big game as a "let down" game. It's hard to overlook those games because it's the only game in from of you at the time, but you are set up for an emotional let doown after putting so much effort and energy into the game before it.
Most generally, I'd say a trap game is any game against a clearly inferior opponent where the chances of losing are significantly increased due to any non-basketball reason.
This is most commonly used to refer to a conference road game immediately preceding a very important conference game, but there other less common examples including games against teams that have had much more time to prepare than your team, non-conference games in the middle of the conference schedule, or a game that occurs immediately after a team has wrapped up first place and thus has less motivation. I'd describe our last VT game as very much a trap game - but probably not any of the others you mentioned.
It doesn't mean anything, at least not anymore, because it's so overused. In order for something to be a trap, it must be unexpected, unforeseen or unforeseeable. If a team is being warned all week by the coaches, media, and/or fans that an upcoming game is a "trap" game, then by defintion it's not unexpected, unforeseen, or unforeseeable. They're on notice: you have a game coming up and all games require your attention. There is no trap at all.
It's a meaningless term at this point. Sure, teams can overlook opponents, but they don't do so because they're unaware of the game or its importance or potential difficulty; they're not being "trapped." I wish the basketball culture would drop the term from the lexicon. Makes me cringe.