Ronald Roberts, Jr., Rotnei Clarke

Butler guard Rotnei Clarke cleared for full contact in practice

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After being being examined by a spine specialist on Thursday, No. 9 Butler senior guard Rotnei Clarke received the news that he, the program and its fans were all hoping for. Clarke has been cleared for full contact in practice, which opens the door for his playing in Saturday’s tilt against Temple.

Clarke hasn’t played since suffering a neck injury in the first half of Butler’s win at Dayton on January 12. Clarke was fouled hard while attempting a layup, the force of which sent him crashing into the basket stanchion.

The Bulldogs have won two of the three games they’ve played in Clarke’s absence, most recently losing 54-53 at La Salle on Wednesday night. Ramon Galloway’s driving basket with 2.5 seconds remaining proved to be the difference in Philadelphia.

“Rotnei saw a spine specialist again this morning and everything looks stable and he has no symptoms, so he was cleared for full contact,” said Butler Head Athletic Trainer Ryan Galloy in the statement released by the school.

“We will evaluate him again tomorrow (Friday) and then make a decision about Saturday.”

It’s important to note that Clarke has only been cleared for practice at this point, with a positive report on Friday needed to get Butler’s leading scorer on the floor for their home game against Temple.

In spite of the Owls’ win over Big 5 rival Penn on Wednesday night this is a big game for Temple, who has lost three of their last five games. In Khalif Wyatt the Owls have one of the Atlantic 10’s best players, and when he’s on Temple can beat just about any team in the country (see his 33-point afternoon in Temple’s win over then-No. 3 Syracuse last month).

If Clarke is able to play on Saturday evening Butler becomes an even tougher team to beat at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: A Big 12 and a Big Ten showdown

Denzel Valentine
(AP Photo/Al Goldis)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 10 West Virginia at No. 6 Kansas, 7:00 p.m.

The last time these two teams got together, West Virginia actually knocked off Kansas in Morgantown. It was the third time in the last three seasons that WVU has beaten KU at home. So there’s some revenge at stake here. But there’s also the whole Big 12 title race, which West Virginia currently leads. If the Mountaineers win tonight, they’ll be up by two games on Kansas with the tie breaker and just seven games left to play. The Jayhawks regular season title streak could be over if that happens.

THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 8 Michigan State at No. 18 Purdue, 7:00 p.m.

We think the Spartans are back to their early season form after wins over Maryland (at home), Northwestern, Rutgers and Michigan. If Michigan State really wants to prove something to the college basketball world, they will go into West Lafayette tonight and get a win. Denzel Valentine vs. Raphael Davis will be fun.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

  1. Pitt will pay a visit to No. 12 Miami in a game the Panthers could really use a win in. Pitt hasn’t been the most consistent team in the country and without adding a few quality wins they could be looking at the bubble.
  2. Duquesne will be paying a visit to No. 19 Dayton, who moved into a tie for first place in the Atlantic 10 thanks to VCU’s loss on Saturday.
  3. Georgia is right there on the bubble, and they will have a chance to try and push themselves into a better spot when they play at No. 22 Kentucky tonight.
  4. Creighton probably has to win out to have a shot of making the NCAA tournament, and that includes tonight, when they host No. 5 Xavier.
  5. No. 7 Virginia will be hosting Virginia Tech, who picked off the Wahoos in Blacksburg earlier this year.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 1 Villanova at DePaul, 8:30 p.m.
  • No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.

 

PLAYER OF THE YEAR POWER RANKINGS: Buddy Hield isn’t going anywhere

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) drives to the basket as LSU guard Antonio Blakeney (2) defends in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)
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It’s Tuesday, which means that it is once again time for the NBC Sports Player of the Year Power Rankings.

And you’ll be shocked to find out that Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield is still No. 1 in those rankings. By a pretty wide margin.

The rest of the top 10?

They can be found here, at the CBT FaceBook page. Follow that page for the countdown: