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Kaminsky poses problem

Top-seeded Wisconsin (33-3) takes on fourth-seeded North Carolina (26-11) in one regional semifinal Thursday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Top-seeded Wisconsin (33-3) takes on fourth-seeded North Carolina (26-11) in one regional semifinal Thursday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

The teams are meeting in the NCAA tournament for the second time and the first since 2006. The Tar Heels won the first meeting.

North Carolina hasn't been this far since 2012, although the Tar Heels are 25-6 all-time in regional semifinals.

Their top task? Defending Big Ten player of the year Frank Kaminsky, who leads the Badgers in scoring (18.4 points), rebounding (8.1), and field-goal percentage (.556).

"Very, very seriously is the way we're going to try to deal with him," Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said Wednesday.

Carolina's front line of 6-foot-9 Kennedy Meeks, 6-6 J.P. Tokoto, and 6-8 Justin Jackson can't match the 7-foot Kaminsky in height, but the 270-pound Meeks has nearly 30 pounds on "Frank the Tank."

Carolina can throw 6-9, 228-pounder Brice Johnson at Kaminsky, too.

The Badgers have a question mark on their roster, with guard Traevon Jackson's playing status up in the air.

The senior has yet to appear in the tournament and has missed 18 straight games since breaking his right foot in a loss at Rutgers on Jan. 11.

Jackson got in a few possessions during practice Tuesday, and Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said that if he is physically ready the coach would reward Jackson with playing time.

Jackson made it sound as if he'll return. "I've been playing this game for too long to have nervousness on the court," he said. "It's a joy to be back on the court."

Xavier vs. Arizona.

Six years are a blink when old friends such as Sean Miller and Chris Mack get back together.

When the coaches met up Wednesday in a Staples Center hallway, they jumped right back into their old relationship roles.

Miller is still the serious leader shouldering the responsibility of a major program at Arizona, still wistful about his decision to leave Xavier in 2009.

Mack is still the grateful, upbeat friend who replaced him - and who just can't resist a good jab at his old boss before their schools face off for the first time in the other West semifinal.

The bonds between these coaching staffs still run wide and deep, but the friendship at their center will get a little spice when Mack's sixth-seeded Musketeers (23-13) attempt to pull off a major upset of the second-seeded Wildcats (33-3).

Miller spent five years in charge at Xavier, and Mack was on his staff the entire time as they took the Musketeers to new heights of prominence.

After Miller made the agonizing decision to leave Cincinnati, he lobbied for his longtime lead assistant to replace him. Despite some rough patches, Mack has maintained Xavier's consistent success with three Sweet 16 trips.

Miller has led his West Coast powerhouse to a regional semifinal four times in five years, but he still keeps a keen eye on the Musketeers.