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PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Semifinals in Charleston, New York and San Juan

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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)

New-look Virginia back to work after winning NCAA title

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Tony Bennett’s first offseason as a national champion coach has come with benefits on the recruiting trail. His first season at Virginia after winning the title, however, will bring challenges.

Five players who helped Virginia beat Texas Tech to capture the first basketball title in school history are gone, and that’s four more than expected. Center Jack Salt graduated, and guards De’Andre Hunter, Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy declared for the NBA draft. Seldom-used Marco Anthony transferred.

Recruiting was already well underway before the Cavaliers won it all, but Bennett said Wednesday the result “certainly can’t hurt and I think it has helped. It validates a lot of good stuff that’s happened in the past.”

Virginia hopes the spoils of those improvements are evident quickly in incoming freshmen guard Casey Morsell, big men Justin McKoy and Kadin Shedrick and junior college shooting guard Tomas Woldetensae.

Virginia opened its summer practice period on Tuesday, and Bennett said he’s not sure just yet who will be ready to contribute.

“Everyone will have ample opportunity, the newcomers, so to speak,” he said. “To say who, you just don’t know. … There are some opportunities out there. So it’s the returners and we can go down the list of the guys we brought in, but I think they’re excited about the opportunity.

“There’s always a learning curve any time you go from whether it’s high school to college or junior college to college or coming from a redshirt to being eligible. … Going up a level and playing in the ACC, for any of these guys, there’s the challenge of the physicality and the level of talent and the speed.”

Woldetensae, a left-handed shooter, averaged 17.3 points per game and shot 47.6 percent from 3-point range last season at Indian Hills Community College.

“We thought we needed to add some experience and a quality player on the perimeter and when he was mentioned and we did our homework and watched film and all those kinds of things,” he said. “His personality came out as a young man of character and we always start there. He seemed wanting to challenge himself at a very high level.”

The Cavaliers were delighted that Mamadi Diakite decided to come back for his senior year after testing the professional waters. And they added senior transfer Sam Hauser, who averaged 14.9 points and 7.2 rebounds last season at Marquette. Hauser will be eligible to practice with the team, but won’t be able to play until 2020-21.

Bennett’s offseason included numerous speaking engagements, recruiting, talking to NBA scouts about his players and some time to decompress.

He also checked an item off his bucket list when, with his father, longtime college coach Dick Bennett, he played Augusta National Golf Club, home of The Masters. That, he said, “was amazing.”

Now, it’s back to work.

“I’m grateful for the busy-ness of it,” he said of the offseason. “It means something good happened.”

Four-star forward commits to West Virginia

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West Virginia landed a top-75 recruit Thursday night.

Isaiah Cottrell, a 6-foot-9 forward from Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, committed to West Virginia’s 2020 recruiting class.

Cottrell picked the Mountaineers overs offers from the likes of Kansas, Washington and Arizona, among others. His father, Brian Lewin, played for West Virginia in the 1990s. The four-star prospect continues a promising recruiting trend for Bob Huggins, who landed a top-40 commit in center Oscar Tshiebwe in the 2019 class.

The Mountaineers missed the NCAA tournament last season for the first time in four years as they slid to 15-21 overall and last in the Big 12 with a 4-14 mark.

John Calipari’s new deal at Kentucky worth $86 million over 10 years

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John Calipari and Kentucky agreed in April to what was described as a “lifetime contract.” Thursday, the exact terms of that deal were disclosed.

The Wildcats coach’s new contract worth $86 million over 10 years.

“I’ve said from day one that this would be the gold standard and it has been for student-athletes and coaches,” Calipari said in a statement released by the school. “As I enter my 11th year, I’m reminded it took me 20 years to get an opportunity to like this. There is no other place I want to be. As I look forward, my mindset is what’s next and how can we be first at it for the young people that we coach.”

Calipari, 60, will likely continue to be a source of speculation for other jobs presuming he keeps things rolling in Lexington as he has for the last 10 years, but what Kentucky is paying him will almost certainly be more than any other program – and potentially NBA franchises – are going to be willing to. Calipari’s success, NBA history and ability to always be central to the broader college basketball conversation means he’ll always be in demand, but it’s hard to picture a situation that could intrigue Calipari enough to leave one of – if not the – best jobs in basketball.

“(Calipari) has added a special chapter to the greatest tradition in college basketball and it’s a chapter we want him to continue writing until the end of his coaching career,” Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said in a statement. “We are pleased to announce a new contract that will enable him to do exactly that.”

Calipari 305-71 with one national championship, four Final Fours and 26 first-round draft picks in 10 years with the Wildcats. He and Kentucky will likely open the 2019-20 season as one of the frontrunners for the national championship.

Michigan State reports violation for Tom Izzo hosting visit for former high school

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Michigan State self-reported an NCAA rules violation for Tom Izzo hosting Iron Mountain High School for a tour while the team was in town to compete for its first ever state title that weekend.

Izzo unknowingly committed the violation — which only occurred because Iron Mountain was competing in the Breslin Center that weekend — and the Spartans immediately gave notice once they became aware of it. Proud of his alma mater for advancing to Michigan’s final weekend, Izzo was merely taking interest in players and a team connected to his youth. The Iron Mountain program toured the Breslin Center with Izzo and toured Michigan State’s locked room while also watching the Spartans practice before their state semifinal game.

Since it was a special privilege for Iron Mountain, playing in an event there, the Spartans were technically at fault for a violation. The fact that Izzo and Michigan State have to report a violation for this sort of thing is kind of ridiculous since Izzo has a natural connection to the team in question. Although Michigan State likely isn’t going to get hit with any NCAA issues from this, it’s the kind of thing that critics come to question about the NCAA’s rulebook.

Former lacrosse star Pat Spencer commits to Northwestern for basketball

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Northwestern landed a unique graduate transfer on Thursday as Loyola lacrosse star Pat Spencer will spend his final year of college eligibility hooping for the Wildcats, according to Stadium’s Jeff Goodman.

A former high school basketball standout at Boys’ Latin (MD), Spencer was one of the best lacrosse players in the country for the Greyhounds the past four years in college. He was selected in two drafts during the Spring. Spencer was taken first overall in the inaugural PLL College Draft while getting taken seventh overall in the MLL’s Collegiate Draft. Loyola remains in the NCAA tournament as Spencer is playing out his senior season of college.

Spencer is passing up multiple professional lacrosse opportunities to play Big Ten basketball for Northwestern. For a stud athlete in a sport to pass up money to pursue another athletic dream is one of the college basketball’s best things to follow next season.

As if Spencer’s background wasn’t unique enough, he’ll be at a Northwestern team starving for an identity since making the NCAA tournament a few seasons ago. By playing in the Big Ten, Spencer will be thrown against Final Four contenders and potential draft picks, which makes this transition particularly intriguing. It’s a cool story to follow this season as college hoops doesn’t often get athletes from other sports playing in such prominent conferences.

Greg Paulus famously went from Duke point guard to Syracuse quarterback as a graduate transfer, but he was leaving the sport to pursue an opportunity to play football. Spencer choosing basketball over a sure pro shot in lacrosse is an interesting opportunity for him this season. It’ll be interesting to see if he can still contribute anything on the hardwood.

(Ht: Jeff Goodman, Stadium)