When Danny Green recently caught a glimpse of Jay Wright on television, the 76ers veteran wing’s reaction was, “Oh, he’s got a little bit more gray hairs from what I remember when I was younger.”

Green was on the opposite side of the court in Wright’s first Final Four appearance as Villanova’s head coach, a matchup North Carolina won, 83-69, on its way to the 2009 national championship. Thirteen years later, Green is a man with Philly ties but is naturally still pulling for the Tar Heels as both programs head back to the national semifinals this weekend in New Orleans. Ditto for Sixers coach Doc Rivers, a former NBA teammate of North Carolina coach Hubert Davis.

Green remembers that 2008-09 Villanova squad, then a No. 3 seed that beat second-seeded Duke and stunned top-seeded Pittsburgh on its road to its first Final Four since 1985, as a “gritty group, just like Philly is.” Those Wildcats were led by Dante Cunningham, Corey Fisher and Scottie Reynolds, whose last-second layup pushed the Wildcats past Pitt to set up their matchup against North Carolina.

The Tar Heels, meanwhile, were anchored by three-time All-America big man Tyler Hansbrough and six other future NBA players in Green, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Ed Davis, Larry Drew and Tyler Zeller. Green scored 12 points on 4-of-10 from three-point range in that North Carolina win over Villanova, before totaling 6 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds as his team rolled Michigan State, 89-72, in the national championship game.

“They were a little undersized, but they were a team that defied the odds,” Green recalled Tuesday. " … It was a tough matchup, but we had a really good team that year. Going into that Final Four, we had some past experiences that helped us a lot. We had just been to the Final Four the previous year and lost to Kansas. … We were able to have a little bit of an edge on them with the experience factor.”

Now, eighth-seeded North Carolina is the lowest-seeded team remaining in a national semifinal occupied by college basketball blue bloods. The Tar Heels coincidentally needed to beat Rivers’ alma mater, Marquette, in the first round. Then they upset No. 1 Baylor in the second round and 2021 Final Four participant UCLA in the Sweet 16, before crashing 15th-seeded St. Peter’s’ Cinderella party in the Elite Eight.

Rivers beamed last week when talking about Davis, who was Rivers’ “rook” when they became teammates with the New York Knicks in 1992.

“I’m so thrilled to death for that kid,” Rivers said after the Tar Heels advanced to the Elite Eight. “First of all, he was so meek and never talked. … [He] cried the first playoff game, because the intensity he was like oh my god I don’t know [how to handle this].

“It’s really, really awesome [what he’s become as a coach].”

When North Carolina advanced to the East Regional in Philly, Green was asked to do the voice-over for a hype video because of his shared connection to his current city and forever school. Toughness and hard work, Green said, is synonymous with both Philly and the underdog Tar Heels.

“They said they loved it,” Green said. “The guys enjoyed it. I thought it turned out well, but most importantly, they said it got them really motivated and activated for the games.”

To get a North Carolina-Villanova rematch in the national title game, the Tar Heels must first beat bitter rival Duke in legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final March Madness run. Green said he is “excited, but also a little nervous” about that Saturday showdown.

“This one is for all the marbles, basically,” Green said. “I think this one may even be bigger than the national championship game. … This next game is gonna be bragging rights for the next good 20 years.”

Green is actually hoping for a national title game meeting with Kansas, the alma mater of Sixers MVP candidate Joel Embiid. The Sixers are off Monday, when that game will be played.

“If we win and then Kansas wins,” Green said, “I’ll try to convince Joel — I don’t know if he watches a lot of college basketball — to get us a plane so we all can watch the Carolina-Kansas matchup in the national championship game.”