Well, who really wants that top spot in the college basketball rankings, anyway?

Three teams have flirted with it this season and soon were jilted. Being ranked first has guaranteed a downhill slide.

Duke, runner-up to Kentucky in last year's national championship game, easily held the spot in preseason rankings and the first two weeks of the Associated Press poll. The Devils then lost embarrassingly to Ohio State and St. John's in the Holiday Festival in New York in late December.

That opened the way for Michigan State, which was voted No. 1 in the first two polls of 1979. The Spartans then lost consecutively to Illinois and Purdue, falling out of favor with the pollsters. Then they lost two Big Ten games last week and are tied for fourth in the conference.

Notre Dame succeeded State and, true to form, lost after two weeks as No. 1. Maryland knocked them off at College Park Saturday, 67-66.

With second-ranked North Carolina upset, 66-61, by Clemson Saturday night, Indiana State (18-0) could very well assume the top position. The third-ranked Sycamores beat Creighton, 77-69, Saturday.

"We're No. 1 in our conference (Missouri Valley)," said State Coach Bill Hodges. "That's what counts. So what if we're No. 1 in the nation? Until we win the conference, we can't prove it to the rest of the country."

Although the Sycamores don't show a top-20 school on their schedule, they are the nation's only unbeaten major college squad. Should Indiana State be voted No. 1, it would be one of the rare occasions in recent college history when the nation's top team also had the top scorer: Larry Bird (30.2).

Bird was held to a season-low 17 points against Creighton, but the 6-foot-9 senior grabbed 15 rebounds -- equaling his average in that department, in which is No. 3 nationally.

With five members of the top 10 losing Saturday, No. 11 Georgetown seems certain to move up. Four Hoyas starters scored at least 20 points in an 88-80 triumph over American Saturday night at Fort Myer.

The fifth, Tommy (Mount) Scates, blocked nine Eagle shots. Georgetown's Steve Martin (21 points, eight rebounds, 10 assists) was the "one" in the Hoya box-and-one defense that denied Eagle sophomore scorer Boo Bowers the ball for nearly 13 minutes midway through the game.

Bowers, nevertheless, scored a game-high 30 points, sinking 12 of 19 shots. Hoya guards Eric Floyd and John Duren each scored 23 points, playing 39 and 38 minutes, respectively.

Of Bowers, Hoya Coach John Thompson said, "That's the best defense we've ever played on someone who scored 30 points."

The Hoyas led, 69-54, with almost 10 minutes to play but two minutes later slowed the pace. Meanwhile, American was in the middle of a 12-2 spree that closed Georgetown's lead to 71-66. Then Martin's two free throws, Scates' two blocked shots and Floyd's two free throws gave GU a 76-66 advantage with 3:38 left.

"It hurt our momentum when we held the ball," said Thompson. "If we had lost, it would have been my fault."

Dirk Ewing's two free throws with eight seconds left gave host Stetson a 91-90 victory over George Washington. GW's Curtis Jeffries missed a jumper from the foul line with two seconds left; teammate Mike Samson grabbed the rebound but was unable to shoot.

The Colonials (8-9) had game highs of 26 points from Mike Zagardo and 13 rebounds from Samson.

Visiting Fairleigh Dickinson sank 30 of 33 free throws and placed four players in double figures to hand struggling Catholic (3-14) its third straight homecourt defeat.

Charles Jackson, the game's high scorer(29), hit a basket with 23 seconds left to lift host Bowie State to a 67-66 victory over Rutgers-Camden.

George Mason missed its first 15 field goal tries, did not score a point for the first 10:16, then came back to lead most of the second half before losing, 53-52, to visiting Baltimore University.

Joseph Carr drove for the winning basket with five seconds left and then blocked Mark McGettrick's last-ditch effort at the buzzer to give Baltimore its third victory in 16 games. Mason (10-5) saw a five-game winning streak broken.

The Patriots will get a chance to start anothr winning streak tonight when they play host to Robert Morris at 7:30 p.m. Virginia, a 20-point loser to host North Carolina Stste Saturday, will entertain a nonconference foe when 16th-ranked Temple visits tonight at 7:30 p.m. Strayer will travel to Philadelphia Pharmacy for an 8 p.m. game.

In national action Saturday night, sixth-ranked UCLA got 24 points and 16 rebounds from Dave Greenwood in an 86-61 victory over Washington; Walter Daniels and Eric Marbury scored 24 points apiece as Georgia upset No. 9 Louisiana State, 93-88; 10th ranked Ohio State remained unbeaten in the Big Ten by coming from nine points down in the final two minutes of regulation before taking a 66-63 overtime victory over Indiana, and No. 12 Syracuse won its 41st straight at home, 113-68, over Manhattan.

St. Bonaventure's Delmar Harrod hit an 80-foot desperation shot at the buzzer to force an overtime and then sank the winning basket, a layup, in the Bonnies' 74-72 victory over host Niagara.