It will not be surprising if Georgetown is not ranked in the wire service polls this week, either. As an encore to their road victory over No. 2 Syracuse the previous week, the Hoyas whipped decent teams by 24 and 27 points at home last week, ending the regular season with 10 straight wins and a 21-5 record.

However, the Hoyas are proving an old wire service poll axiom -- it's harder to get back in the polls than it is to drop out. For instance, a team like Duke, which had been undefeated and ranked No. 1 last month, lost seven of its next 13 games, yet remained in the top 20.

Georgetown dropped out of the top 20 following a Jan. 12 loss to Oral Roberts, and deservedly so. But the Hoyas now have won 11 of their subsequent 12 games, losing only to No. 7 St. John's on a three-point play in the final seconds. The pollsters, both writers and coaches, are more likely to recycle teams already ranked than to add new ones, especially since the pollsters often lose track of how the "other" teams are doing.

Nevertheless, Goergetown could make quite an impact on the national rankings this week by winning the Big East tournament in Providence. To do so, they probably would have to beat a pair of top-10 teams, St. John's and Syracuse, within a 24-hour span.

However, the Big East is the only postseason tournament in which the winner does not get an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. This is because a conference must be in existence two years before the bid becomes automatic. Nevertheless, the winner likely will be seeded No. 1 or 2 in the East Regional.

In Thursday's opening round, St. John's plays Providence at 3, Georgetown faces Seton Hall at 7 and Boston College meets Connecticut at 9. Syracuse, which won the coin flip with Georgetown and St. John's for the first-round bye, plays the 9 p.m. semifinal Friday night, against the B.C.U.Conn survivor.