NEW ORLEANS (Ticker) -- Roy Williams looks to put aside a major distraction and reach the championship of the NCAA Tournament for the second time when Kansas faces Marquette in a national semifinal at the Louisiana Superdome.
Williams again has been mentioned as a possible successor to Matt Doherty as the coach at North Carolina, his alma mater. Williams said Tuesday that he did not want to discuss the issue, although he has not denied any interest.
Kansas (29-7) is making its second straight Final Four appearance and 12th overall after capturing the West regional. The Jayhawks got a terrific performance from Kirk Hinrich in Saturday's 78-75 victory over Arizona.
Hinrich bounced back from a 1-of-9 shooting performance in the semifinals against Duke by scoring 28 points and draining six 3-pointers. Kansas blew a 16-point lead before rallying and Hinrich blocked a potential tying 3-pointer by Jason Gardner in the closing seconds.
"We are just feeling really good," Hinrich said. "We have a chance to accomplish some things that haven't been done here for awhile. I think we realize the opportunity we have. We are just really excited about what we have accomplished so far, but realize there is more to be done."
All-Big 12 first team selection Nick Collison will also key Kansas' attack. Collison had a subpar effort against Arizona with eight points, but collected 33 points and 19 rebounds in the win over Duke.
"They have two All-Americans and a lot of other guys that can play," Marquette coach Tom Crean said. "They know each other real well so they play together well."
Jeff Graves, who has replaced the injured Wayne Simien in the starting lineup, collected 13 points and 15 rebounds against Arizona. Keith Langford, who is averaging nearly 18 points per game in the NCAA Tournament, chipped in 13.
Williams led Kansas to the championship game in 1991 when it lost to Duke. The Jayhawks lost to North Carolina in the 1993 Final Four - in New Orleans - and lost to Maryland last season.
"Whether I will feel fulfilled as a coach or not has nothing to do with winning a national championship," Williams said. "It's one of my dreams, there's no question about that, but I don't let that drive me. It's not something that I stay awake at night and think about."
Marquette (27-5) is in the Final Four for the first time since Al McGuire's team won the 1977 championship and the third time overall. The Golden Eagles received one of the best performances in NCAA Tournament history from star guard Dwyane Wade in an 83-69 victory over Kentucky in the Midwest Region final.
Wade, the Conference USA Player of the Year, notched the third triple-double in NCAA Tournament history with 29 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in an electrifying performance. He joined Michigan State's Magic Johnson and Utah's Andre Miller as the only other players to record triple-doubles.
"He has the ability to switch gears like he did the other day," Crean said. "That will be a tape to watch for many a year when it is all over. He raised his own level and everyone else's level."
Robert Jackson had a double-double by halftime and finished with 24 points and 15 rebounds. Jackson leads the team with a 7.5 rebounding advantage.
The Golden Eagles complement Wade in the backcourt with sophomore Travis Diener, who is in his first season as the team's point guard. Diener scored a total of 55 points in the first two rounds to help Marquette overcome a pair of uneven performances from Wade.
Kansas may elect to use the athletic Langford against Wade, a matchup that favors Marquette. Jackson and Scott Merritt will match up with Graves and Collison up front.
"I have nothing personal against Dwyane Wade," Langford said. "It is not personal at all. We will take the same approach we have done in every game. We have got to beat Marquette to do what we want to do."
The biggest edge for the Jayhawks may be Hinrich's quickness against Diener. But the Golden Eagles have a tremendous edge off the bench in freshman Steve Novak, who has made 14-of-20 3-pointers in the NCAA Tournament.
Kansas is 5-1 all-time against Marquette and posted an 85-61 rout in the last meeting on January 28, 1992. The only NCAA Tournament meeting between the schools was a 64-51 victory for Marquette in the 1974 Final Four.
The winner faces Syracuse or Texas in Monday's championship.