The Big East's championship tournament, which begins in Syracuse Thursday, may be the only postseason wingding in the nation that has no logical favorite.

Six of the eight teams, from first-place Boston College to sixth-place Syracuse, could win the balanced competition and probably advance to the NCAA tournament field of 48.

"Nobody in good mental condition would try to pick a winner in Syracuse," Georgetown Coach John Thompson said after his Hoyas claimed second place in the league with a 60-58 victory Saturday night over third-place Connecticut at McDonough Arena.

The Hoyas (19-10, 9-5 in the conference) lost their bid to finish in a first-place tie with Boston College when the Eagles defeated Seton Hall.

But the Georgetown victory, led by Sleepy Floyd's season-high 28 points and clutch play by senior Mike Frazier, allowed the Hoyas to avoid playing sixth-place Syracuse on its Carrier Dome home court. More than 25,000 people are expected for each of the three-day sessions.

In the opening round, Georgetown will play seventh-place Seton Hall at 7 p.m. after an afternoon doubleheader of BC-Providence at 1, followed by St. John's-Villanova. Connecticut will play Syracuse at 9.

The Hoyas are in the same bracket as the Orangemen.

Host Syracuse (15-11, 6-8) is favored by some observers because the Orangemen seem to play several levels better when pushed by the boisterous throngs in the Dome.

"The Orange might be the favorite on its home court," Thompson said. "But from a competitive standpoint, Syracuse isn't at the top of its game."

Even though BC won 21 games and lost only five (four to conference opponents) nobody seems willing to pick the short-on-talent, long-on-determination Eagles. BC never has been ranked in the top 20 this season.

The Hoyas won this tournament last year, in the conference's charter season. For those who place importance on the nebulous concept of "peaking at the right time," Georgetown may be the favorite to successfully defend its title.

No other league team has two men performing as well as Floyd and Frazier.

The seven-foot Frazier has been playing the best basketball of his previously unheralded career, giving the Hoyas the inside punch they lacked during a slow early season. In addition, Frazier's play around the basket, offensively and defensively, is consuming some of the opposition's attention which previously was concentrated on Floyd.

The two teamed up on several alley-oop plays in the victory over Connecticut. Floyd scored a dozen straight points and Frazier dominated inside play as GU erased an eight-point deficit in the second half.

When Eric Smith is playing well offensively, league players and coaches say Georgetown becomes the best in the conference. Gene Smith already is acknowledged by the Big East's guards as probably the league's best defender.

Third-place Connecticut has the best inside combination in Corny Thompson and Chuck Aleksinas. But the Huskies have frittered several large first-half leads this season, and the other conference teams seem to sense UConn can be flustered late in games.

Fourth-place St. John's, with four seniors, has unparalleled experience in the conference. And fifth-place Villanova, with forward Alex Bradley back from a mid-season injury, now has three explosive scorers in Bradley, John Pinone and Stewart Granger.

Seton Hall and Providence are long shots, but the Friars upset Georgetown earlier this season at McDonough, and Seton Hall lost six of its 10 league games by a total of 11 points, two games by three points to the Hoyas.

This is not a betting man's tournament.