The Winds of War blowing through here have nothing to do with World War II. Rather, the storm is over a basketball game Thursday at 9 p.m. between Virginia and North Carolina.

Once again, this 10th meeting between the two schools during the Ralph Sampson years is the glamor game in the Atlantic Coast Conference and, in fact, in all of college basketball.

North Carolina, the defending national champion, has won 17 straight games. It has an overall record of 20-3 (7-0 in the ACC) and is ranked No. 1 in the nation. Virginia, with Ralph Sampson playing the most inspired basketball of his career, is 19-2, 7-1 and ranked No. 3.

With the exception of the globe-shaking upset in Hawaii at the hands of Chaminade, Carolina is the only team to beat the Cavaliers this season, by six points last month in Charlottesville.

"We played our best game of the season and barely beat Virginia the first time," said North Carolina Coach Dean Smith, who recently became the first college basketball coach to win 20 games in 13 straight seasons. "I don't think they were at their best in that game and they still almost won. That's how talented they are."

Smith is the quickest coach in the nation to publicly compliment the opposition. But he may be right when he says, "Virginia may be playing better than anyone in the country right now . . . "

It's difficult to imagine Virginia losing when Sampson is playing as well as he has recently, scoring 35 against Louisville and 25 in the first half against Wake Forest.

Sampson, 7-foot-4, two-time player of the year, has indicated he wants to leave his mark on college basketball. There is no better time than Thursday night in Carmichael Auditorium, a building where he has averaged 32 points and 16 rebounds his last two games.