In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com
Chaminade, an NAIA school pulls off the biggest upset in the history of College Basketball, beating #1 Virginia 77-72. The Cavaliers had entered the game 8-0, having already beaten nationally ranked Georgetown and Houston. The game was just a warm-up for Virginia who had won a tournament in Tokyo. The Silverswords were led by Tony Randolph with 19 points, while National Player of the Year Ralph Sampson was held to 12.
The University of Virginia was one of the top programs in the country under coach Terry Holland. Leading the way for the Cavaliers was Center Ralph Sampson, who was named NCAA Player of the Year three years in a row. After reaching the Final Four in 1981, Virginia had a stunning second-round exit in 1982. Hoping to finally put it together and win an NCAA Championship, the Cavaliers had won their first eight games in the 1982/83 season. This included a 68-63 win over #3 Georgetown on the road.
After beating the Hoyas, the Cavaliers faced another big test against #14 Houston, in a tournament in Tokyo. Virginia did not have Ralph Sampson to go against Hakeem Olajuwon, as he missed the games in Japan with a viral infection. However, the Cavaliers still beat Phi Slama Jama 72-63. The Cavaliers went on to beat Utah 80-57 and headed home as the top-ranked team in the nation. On the way back from Japan, Virginia stopped by Hawai’i for the holidays playing a warm-up game against Chaminade.
There was not much anticipation for the game, as the International Center in Honolulu was less than half full with 3,383 fans on hand. Chaminade coming into the game with a record of 10-1, having lost two days earlier to Wayland Baptist and the game was not televised anywhere. The Silverswords an NAIA school did not even have a full-time coach, as Merv Lopes was a Junior High School counselor who led Chaminade on the side.
Chaminade got off to a quick start in the game and held a 19-12 lead, as Virginia was struggling to find the basket. The Cavaliers finally found the range midway through the first half and rallied to take a 22-21 lead. However, Chaminade continued to fight back and kept the game close the entire first half, which ended in a 43-43 tie. As the second half began it looked as if Virginia was set to take over, racing to a seven-point lead. Once again, the Silverswords fought back going on a 7-0 run to even the score 56-56. The game continued to go back and forth when Tim Dunham hit a 22-foot jumper to give Chaminade a 64-62 lead. After Virginia battled back to tie the game at 68, it was Mark Wells who put the Silverswords back in front to stay with a layup with less than two minutes to go. Down 74-72, Virginia had a chance to tie the game again but Othell Wilson was called for carrying the ball, the 25th turnover of the game for the Cavaliers. Chaminade would go on to close the game with three free throws, winning 77-72. Virginia shot poorly the entire game, making just 41% of their shots from the field, while Chaminade was at 49%.
Virginia would lose the #1 ranking after their loss to Chaminade and would not reach #1 again until 2018. Chaminade due to the upset decided to keep their school name after initially announcing plans to become the University of Honolulu. The upset of Virginia led to the creation of the Maui Invitational Tournament, which Chaminade would host after becoming a Division II school in the NCAA. The Cavaliers would go on to post a record of 29-5, losing to eventual champion NC State in the Elite Eight.