Ed Spriggs never played organized basketball until last summer. The 22-year-old Georgetown University freshman has proved to be a fast learner, to the delight of Hoya Coach John Thompson.

"I was very pleased with the way we played, especially Spriggs," said Thompson after GU won its 20th game of the season, 84-81, over Boston College on Saturday night. "He did a sensational job."

The Hoya victory over the Eagles, also 20-game winners, virtually guaranteed the 16th-ranked team a bid to the East Coast Athletic Conference's Southern Divison playoff. Feb. 28. Georgetown will close its regular season with games at George Washington and Holy Cross.

Spriggs, 6-foot-9 240-pounder, played 33 minutes after starting center Tom Scates picked up three fouls in seven minutes of action. Spriggs sank both of his field goal attempts and six of seven foul shots, blocked one shot and added an assist.

Averaging under five points and shooting at a 56 percent clip in about 21 minutes per game this season, Spriggs gives the Hoyas more mobility and versatility than Scates. The freshman should see even more action in the remaining two games and post-season contests.

Mount Scates, playing his final game at McDonough Gym, did what he does best in his seven minutes against Boston College: he blocked two shots to break his year-old season record of 54 by two. Forward Steve Martin, also closing out his McDonough career, had a typical well-rounded game with 14 points, six rebounds and three assists.

The probable Hoya opponent in the first round of the ECACs is Virginia Commonwealth or Old Dominion.Each has only four losses. The one that is not chosen to play Georgetown could be picked to play Syracuse in the Upstate New York playoff; it would assuredly finish with a better record than seven-time loser St. Bonaventure.

George Washington won its fifth straight and third Eastern Eight Conference game in a row Saturday night at Massachusetts, 94-73.

The Colonials probably will finish fifth in the EEC and visit Rutgers Feb. 27 for a first-round playoff tilt. The teams have split two games this season.

Brian Magid's career-high 34 points -- 18 in the final 10 minutes -- carried the Colonials. Forward Mike Samson added 20, plus 10 rebounds and five assists, to offset Minuteman Mark Haymore's 31 points.

Two other area teams were involved in games featuring high individual scoring efforts -- Bowie State benefited and George Mason suffered.

Junior forward Steve Stiepler pumped in 41 points to guide host James Madison past the Patriots, 101-78. Bowie's Chuck Jackson scored a school-record and career-high 43 in an 89-73 decision over Southeastern.

The Big Ten remains one of the few major conferences without a postseason playoff. Four teams -- all ranked among the top 20 -- are scrambling for the two probable NCAA tournament bids.

Minnesota Coach Jim Dutcher thinks eighth-ranked Michigan State will emerge in first place. "When they get going they can be awfully tough," Dutcher said, just after his team lost by 24 points to No. 13 Purdue, tied for second with the Spartans.

Fourteenth-ranked Iowa and No. 17 Ohio State are tied for first place with 11-3 marks and lead the others by one game. The two meet at Iowa on Saturday. The Buckeyes will wrap up their season by visiting Purdue March 3.

The Spartans host Purdue on Thursday, but after that play none of the other pace-setters and must hope that they bang each other around.

Fourth-ranked North Carolina took advantage of Maryland's Friday night victory over Atlantic Coast Conference leader Duke to pull even with the Blue Devils by beating Virginia, 66-57.

The Tar Heels went to the four corners with 11 1/2 minutes left and held on for their seventh straight victory. Duke and UNC are tied with 8-2 marks and probably will decide the ACC tournament's first-round bye Saturday in Durham.

"We went to the four corners because we were away from home and we were looking to get them into foul trouble," said Coach Dean Smith. "Once we went into it, we said 'What the heck' and decided to stay with it until we were behind." That never happened.

Smith added that he thought the Cavaliers were "the best Virginia team I've seen in 20 years."