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Virginia ranked No. 1 for first time since 1982 Chaminade upset


    Virginia’s Ralph Sampson, right, makes an unsuccessful effort to reach in and knock the ball away from Ernest Pettway of Chaminade, in Honolulu, on this Dec 23, 1982. The No.1 Cavaliers were upset by Chaminade 77-72, in perhaps the biggest upset in college basketball history. The Caveliers returned to the No.1 spot today for the first time since that fateful game.

Thirty-five years after tiny Chaminade felled then-top ranked Virginia, the Cavaliers finally returned to the No. 1 spot in the Associated Press men’s basketball poll today.

Virginia and its college player of the year, Ralph Sampson, had been No. 1 for five weeks in an 8-0 start in 1982 until losing to the Silverswords, 77-72, on Dec. 23 at the Blaisdell Center Arena.

Ten times over the intervening decades the Cavaliers climbed as a high as No. 2 but not until today, with a 23-3 record after a weekend of upsets, did Virginia regain the No. 1 spot with 30 of 65 first place votes.

“That’s amazing,” said Richard Haenisch who played on the storied Silversword squad. “Thirty-five years? It doesn’t seem that long ago.”

Virginia and the 7-foot, 4-inch Sampson finished the 1981-82 season at No. 3 in the major polls with a 30-4 record. With Sampson back for what would become a third Naismith trophy in his senior year, the Cavaliers opened the 1982-‘83 season as a consensus No. 1.

They then held it for five weeks in a run that included victories over No. 3 Georgetown and Patrick Ewing and No. 14 Houston and Hakeem Olajuwan.

But after Chaminade’s victory the Cavaliers tumbled to No. 4 and never rose higher than No. 2 in a 29-5 campaign that saw them finish at No. 4.

“It is funny, we were just talking about the Virginia game a couple days ago,” said then-Chaminade coach Merv Lopes, 85, who lives on Hawaii Island.

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