GAME OF THE DAY: No. 16 Utah vs. Miami, 7:00 pm. (ESPNU)
The second semifinal at the Puerto Rico Tipoff could be the best game of the day in college basketball, as a ranked Utah team will look to get past a Miami squad that has the look of a dark horse in the ACC. The key for the Runnin’ Utes, not only Friday but moving forward, will be to find that offensive option who can take over the “end of shot clock” role Delon Wright filled his last two seasons. Lorenzo Bonam played well against Texas Tech, but he’ll have a tough matchup opposite Angel Rodriguez.
THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: No. 5 Duke vs. VCU, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
The Blue Devils are back in action after falling to No. 2 Kentucky at the Champions Classic, this time taking on a VCU team that will pressure full-court. VCU’s “Havoc” could cause problems for a Duke team whose point guard situation has yet to be sorted out. As for the Rams, they’ll have to figure out a way to keep Amile Jerrferson and Marshall Plumlee off the boards after both putting together solid possessions late.
SIX THINGS TO WATCH FOR:
1. Xavier hits the road for the first time this season, taking on No. 24 Michigan in Ann Arbor (9:00 p.m., BTN) as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games. Zak Irvin’s back in the lineup for the Wolverines, and with all of their pieces available Michigan is a team to keep an eye on in the Big Ten. But the same goes for Xavier in the Big East, as Jalen Reynolds and company should contend.
2. No. 2 Kentucky is back in action, hosting Wright State (8:00 p.m., SEC Network) three days after beating No. 5 Duke at the Champions Classic. The expectation is that the Wildcats will take care of business comfortably, especially with the Raiders arriving in Lexington as losers of two straight games. If the young Wildcats can put this one away early, that would speak to the team’s ability to move forward from a big win and focus on the task at hand.
3. Speaking of moving on from big wins, No. 3 Maryland hosts Rider in a game that could be trickier than some expect if Teddy Okereafor gets going for the Broncs. Okereafor’s gotten off to a slow start for the expected MAAC contenders, and he’s a key piece for this team on the perimeter. As for the Terps, their versatile and talented roster continuing to mesh with an eye towards bigger goals as the season wears on is what should be watched for in this contest.
4. The Paradise Jam begins today, with four games being played on the US Virgin Islands. The best matchup could be Hofstra taking on Florida State (3:30 p.m., CBSSN), with both teams possessing explosive backcourt rotations. The Pride are led by Juan’ya Green, Brian Bernardi and Ameen Tanksley, and Leonard Hamilton will counter with a deep rotation led by Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasley. The Seminoles, who are the better defensive team of the two, have the talent needed to contend in the ACC. An impressive weekend at the Paradise Jam could help them gain some attention nationally.
5. No. 22 Butler looks to continue its offensive fireworks in San Juan as they take on Temple in the semifinals of the Puerto Rico Tipoff (1:00 p.m., ESPN2). Tyler Lewis has been outstanding at the point, setting up the Bulldogs for a host of quality scoring opportunities whether in the half court or out in transition. The Owls don’t lack for talent themselves with senior forward Jaylen Bond leading the way, and the return of stretch forward Obi Enechionyia helped them in a big way against Minnesota.
6. A shorthanded Georgetown squad looks to avoid its first-ever 0-3 start, as they take on Wisconsin at the 2K Classic in New York City (5:00 p.m., ESPN2). Paul White missed the first two games with a hip injury and Tre Campbell didn’t make the trip due to illness, with the latter’s absence leaving the Hoyas with just two available scholarship guards. Now those two (D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and L.J. Peak) are very good, but they’ll have their hands full with a Wisconsin perimeter attack led by Bronson Koenig.
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- Long Beach State vs. No. 6 Virginia (Charleston Classic), 9:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
- East Tennessee State at No. 11 Villanova, 7:00 p.m. (FS2)
- Arkansas-Pine Bluff at No. 13 Michigan State, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
- McNeese State at No. 8 Oklahoma, 8:00 p.m.
- Jackson State at No. 20 Baylor, 8:00 p.m.
- Savannah State at No. 25 Oregon, 11:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)
- East Carolina at No. 15 California, 11:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)
OTHER NOTABLE GAMES
- Ohio vs. Tulsa (Paradise Jam), 1:00 p.m.
- George Mason vs. Oklahoma State (Charleston Classic), 1:00 p.m. (ESPNU)
- Murray State at Georgia, 7:00 p.m. (SEC Network)
- Columbia at Northwestern, 8:00 p.m. (ESPN3)