Virginia basketball No. 5 in latest polls

Virginia Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett celebrates with the net after the Cavaliers game against the Syracuse Orange at John Paul Jones Arena. (Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

Virginia’s first outright ACC regular season title in more than 30 years made an impression on the voters in college basketball’s national polls.

The Cavaliers moved up to No. 5 in the latest Associated Press and USA Today coaches polls released Monday, two days after a 75-56 victory over Syracuse in Charlottesville.

It’s the highest Virginia has risen in the AP poll since December 2001, and the highest ranking it has attained in the month of March since Ralph Sampson’s final season in 1983.

The Cavaliers (25-5, 16-1), who were ranked No. 12 by AP voters last week, were joined in the top five by No. 4 Duke, the only team to beat them in conference play this year. Virginia has reeled off 13 wins in a row since that 69-65 loss at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Jan. 13.

No. 1 Florida remained atop the rankings followed by Wichita State and Arizona in both polls.

Coach Tony Bennett hopes his players won’t read too much into the program’s newfound national notoriety.

“There was a lot of excitement Saturday, but that’s done now,” he said Monday on the ACC weekly teleconference. “It’s time to move on.”

Virginia has the week off before closing the regular season at Comcast Center Sunday in Maryland’s final home ACC men’s basketball game.

The ACC just announced leading scorer Malcolm Brogdon shared conference player of the week honors with North Carolina’s Marcus Paige. He’s the first Virginia player this season to win ACC player of the week honors.

Mark Giannotto covers high school sports for The Washington Post.
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