March Madness: Three things to know about NCAA tournament on Thursday

Arizona's Kaleb Tarczewski (right) and Stanley Johnson (left) are longtime friends despite being two years apart in school.

1. KAMINSKY AND KALEB: They are both seven feet tall and playing in the West Region semifinals. But that is where the similarities end.

Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky is from suburban Chicago. Arizona’s Kaleb Tarczewski is from rural New Hampshire. Kaminsky was overlooked coming out of high school. Tarczewski turned into a highly ranked prospect. Kaminsky is a friendly and deadpan with a joke. Tarczewski is friendly and earnest.

Get to know them now, because if their teams win tonight, they’re going to go head-to-head Saturday for a berth in the Final Four.

2. COACHES IN CLEVELAND: Anytime Kentucky coach John Calipari finds himself in Cleveland, especially Quicken Loans Arena, people are reminded of his relationship with LeBron James and speculate about an NBA coaching return. But Calipari is more focused on another friend today, who also happens to be tonight’s opponent: West Virginia’s Bob Huggins. If Kentucky’s players avoid underestimating the Mountaineers the way Calipari is, the Wildcats will be fine.

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Meanwhile, the coaches of the other two teams in the Midwest Region semis, have reason to be distracted, but they aren’t. Notre Dame coach Mike Brey is mourning his mother yet is following her teaching by committing to competition. And Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall again is subject of job speculation yet is focused on getting the Shockers past the Sweet 16 for the second time in three years.

3. TIPS FOR TIP-OFFS: Filling out a Sweet Sixteen bracket? Planning your day and night around the games? Here are resources to help you handicap the Midwest (Wichita State-Notre Dame and West Virginia-Kentucky) and West (UNC-Wisconsin and Xavier-Arizona) Regions. Jeff Sagarin’s invaluable ratings also are up to date.

And here are the players who most hold their respective team’s fate in their hands.

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