Michigan State and Purdue are battling for the Big Ten title, UCLA, as usual, is coasting along in the Pacific Eight and Kentucky is still the class of the field, as college basketball heads into the final weeks of its regular season.

The NCAA playoffs start March 11 with the championship final in St. Louis March 25 and 27.

Individually, Freeman Williams of Portland State is headed for his second straight scoring title. He poured in 112 points in two games over the weekend, scoring 81 in one of them.

The Big Ten has had a resurgence this season, and much of the interest is centered around Michigan State and its wondrous freshman, Earvin (Magic) Johnson.

The Spartans are tied with Purdue, the preseason favorite, with an 8-2 conference record. Michigan State is 16-3 overall.

Minnesota is 7-3 in the conference, but is ineligible for post season play.

The 6-foot-8 Johnson is a ball-handling marvel. He can do virtually as he pleases at both ends of the floor. He is among the conference leaders in every statistical category. He is fourth in scoring (18.2), 10th in field goal percentage (500), seventh in rebound average (8-2), fourth in free throw percentage (87 per cent) and second in assists (6.7).

In a 65-63 loss to Michigan on a last-second shot last week, Johnson had another typical game with 22 points, five rebounds, eight assists and seven steals. It was the Spartans' second straight defeat.

Afterward, Johnson said, "You see it happen all the time, but you never think it will happen to you. After the game I just sat down under the basket and thought about it. I've got to learn to take this in stride."

The Spartans bounced back Saturday with a 68-59 victory over Indiana.

Purdue, led by 7-foot Joe Barry Carol and 6-8 forward Walter Jordan, dumped Michigan Saturday to keep pace with the Spartans.

UCLA is the only undefeated team in Pacific Eight conference play and has lost only two games all season, both to Notre Dame.

The Irish and defending national champion Marquette are the top independents.

Arkansas, which played a lot of games early, is 21-1 and is battling surprising Texas, 18-3, for the Southwest Conference title. Texas is 10-1 in the conference and Arkansas 9-1.

The Razorbacks' three 6-4 guns, Sidney Moncried, Marvin Delph and Ron Brewer, take turns doing in the opposition.

As expected, Kentucky, with its muscle, has been No. 1 since the first preseason poll, and the Wildcats still look like the team to beat.

Among the major disappointments so far this season are Cincinnati and San Francisco. The Bearcats are experienced and deep and, along with Louisville, were expected to have given the Metro Conference two of the nation's top teams.

Louisville has kept its end of the bargain with a 14-3 record, 5-1 in the conference, but Cincinnati has struggled to 11-8, 4-6 in conference play.

Louisville shot a school record 68.8 percent in an 83-76 victory over the Bearcats Saturday night.

USF, with its talented trio of James Hardy, Winford Boynes and Bill Cartwright, was supposed to challenge for the national championship. But Cartwright was injured early and the Dons have not been the dominating team they were a year ago. They still have a chance to recover.

Cartwright popped in 29 points Saturday to lead the Dons to a 96-85 victory at Seattle, improving their record to 16-5 and 6-2 in the West Coast Athletic Conference.

It has not been a particularly outstanding season for individuals.

Phil Ford of North Carolina and Butch Lee of Marquette are the best little men, and the best big men are Minnesota's Mychal Thompson and DePaul's Dave Corzine, both 6-11.

If it's excitement you want, however, look to Portland, where Freeman Williams, the nation's leading scorer, performs.

Williams, a 6-4 guard, scored his 81 points for Portland State Friday night and followed that with a 31-point effort Saturday, increasing his scoring average to 36 points a game.

Purvis Short of Jackson State is second with a 31.7 average.

Williams has averaged 47 points a game in his last eight games and seems destined to become the fifth player in NCAA history to repeat as scoring champion.

Pete Maravich was the last to do it in 1968 through 1970. Maravich averaged 44.2 points in his college career.

Williams, who thought about turning pro last year, gets most of his points with 20- to 25-foot jump shots. He has started every Portland State game for four years and is averaging five rebounds per contest.

Bob Boyd of USC, against which Williams netted 49 points several weeks ago, said of Williams, "the funniest thing about him is that he isn't a gunner. He's always under control."