Senior center Andrew Smith, who missed No. 11 Butler’s game against Charlotte on Wednesday due to an abdominal injury, has been cleared to return to practice and is a game-time decision for Saturday’s game at Fordham according to a school release.
Smith suffered the injury going after a loose ball in the Bulldogs’ 59-56 win at George Washington last Saturday, and early reports had the 6-8 senior sitting out both of Butler’s games this week.
“Andrew has progressed more quickly than expected,” Butler head coach Brad Stevens said in the release. “Whether or not he’ll play at Fordham will be a game day decision.”
On the season Smith’s averaging 11.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, connecting on 54.3% of his shots from the field. Without Smith on Wednesday, junior forward Erik Fromm moved into the starting lineup and played well, finishing with 13 points and nine rebounds in 24 minutes of action.
On the season Fromm’s averaging 4.0 points and and 3.1 rebounds in 12.4 minutes per game for Butler, who will be a prohibitive favorite to beat Fordham on Saturday whether Smith plays or not. But as seen in Duquesne’s surprising win at Temple on Thursday night, nothing is to be taken for granted in the Atlantic 10.
Butler still has games against Saint Louis, VCU and UMass (the VCU and UMass games are on the road) remaining on the regular season schedule, and they’ll need Smith to be at full strength for those matchups.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
Tonight’s bubble action. This post will be updated as the games are completed.
Cincinnati at UCF, 7:00 p.m.
Pitt at No. 12 Miami, 7:00 p.m.
No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.
Ole Miss at Florida, 9:00 p.m.
Georgia at No. 22 Kentucky, 9:00 p.m.
Arkansas at Mississippi State, 9:00 p.m.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.