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Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing and the dominance of the Tar Heels and Hoyas in the 1980s

By JOHN MARSHALL
AP Basketball Writer

Dean Smith returned North Carolina to national prominence in the 1970s, regularly taking the Tar Heels on deep NCAA Tournament runs. But it was in 1982 that he took them to the March Madness mountaintop — with a little help from Michael Jordan.

Before becoming one of the greatest NBA players in history, Jordan was a lanky freshman on a team led by James Worthy and Sam Perkins that spent 11 weeks at No. 1 in the AP Top 25 poll in 1981-82. And it was Jordan who hit one of the biggest shots in NCAA Tournament history, a jumper with 15 seconds left to give Smith his first national title and North Carolina its second.

The title was the high point in a run of 10 straight trips to at least the Sweet 16 by the Tar Heels, including playing in the 1983 national title game. North Carolina reached No. 1 in six different seasons during the 1980s, and it continued a 171-week streak of being ranked that started in 1973.

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of its Top 25, The Associated Press compiled its weekly polls to crown an all-time No. 1, as well as determining the best programs of each decade. They were awarded points based on how they fared on every ballot, just as they are in weekly rankings, and the Tar Heels were the best of the 1980s with 3,115 points. Here are the other top schools:

GEORGETOWN (2,637 points)

John Thompson turned the Hoyas into a national powerhouse that reached its peak during the 1983-84 season. Led by dominating big man Patrick Ewing, Georgetown won its only national title, then reached the title game the following season. The Hoyas were No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first 10 weeks of the 1984-85 season and held the top spot 12 weeks overall.

SYRACUSE (2,099)

After missing the NCAA Tournament in consecutive seasons, Jim Boeheim led the Orange to 10 straight March Madness runs starting in 1982-83. Syracuse reached the national title game in 1980 and the No. 1 ranking in two seasons during the 1980s

KENTUCKY (2,095)

Joe B. Hall followed legendary coach Adolph Rupp and continued Kentucky’s success well into the 1980s. He led the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament each of his final six seasons in Lexington, then Eddie Sutton kept the run going three more years.

UNLV (2,049)

After a few down years, Jerry Tarkanian led the Runnin’ Rebels back to national prominence starting in 1982-83. UNLV went to the NCAA Tournament nine straight years, capped by a national championship in 1989-90.

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Get poll alerts and updates on the AP Top 25 basketball polls throughout the season. Sign up here. AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball

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