The Butler Bulldogs are in trouble.
Last April, you'll recall, Butler played the most significant game in school history. Suddenly, this Thursday's visit to Xavier may have risen to No. 2 on that list. Such are the vagaries of the NCAA tournament at-large picture.
Here we are, just seven games into the "season after" and Butler is staring at a near must-win nonconference matchup. Having dropped both of their marquee contests to date -- at Louisville and at the Meadowlands against Duke in a rematch of last season's NCAA championship game -- the Bulldogs need a win to start building a credible at-large resume for 2011.
Throw in a home-court loss to an Evansville team that's typically a bottom-feeder in the Missouri Valley Conference, and Butler has some heavy lifting to do both out-of-conference and certainly within a vastly improved Horizon League. Opportunities still remain for the Bulldogs, but their margin for error is nearly gone.