Right now, Georgetown is in fourth place in Big East Conference basketball. It is not exactly the kind of place the 14th-ranked Hoyas want to call home.

Tonight at 8 o'clock (WTTG-TV-5), the Hoyas (16-6, 6-3 in the Big East) will play Connecticut (9-11, 2-7) in a sold-out (15,425) Hartford Civic Center.

Some Georgetown players sought answers to the problems posed by Wednesday night's 75-69 loss to St. John's in Capital Centre. It was only Georgetown's fifth February loss in 32 games over five seasons.

"We were tentative again. Things weren't clicking. Maybe we tried too hard," said forward Anthony Jones.

"They just outplayed us," said forward Bill Martin.

Coach John Thompson said, "Anybody who thinks we're dead is probably making a mistake."

St. John's and Villanova have 9-2 records in the Big East, tied for first place. Boston College follows at 7-3. Next come the Hoyas, who defeated Connecticut, 74-53, at Capital Centre on Jan. 16. That was the game in which the Hoyas kept throwing alley-oop passes to 7-foot center Patrick Ewing until he had scored 25 points.

Now, the Hoyas are trying to alley-oop themselves back into conference contention.

"Only the bottom number counts, only the loss column," Thompson said. "It's as wide open as I thought it would be."

And remember, the Big East's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament is extended to the champion of the conference tournament (March 10-12 at Madison Square Garden) and not to the winner of the regular season.

However, the winner of the Big East regular season is nearly assured of receiving one of 24 at-large bids. Last season, the Hoyas finished second in the conference regular season, to Villanova, then won the Big East tournament. In all, four Big East teams (Georgetown, Villanova, Boston College, St. John's) were in last year's NCAA tournament.

In other games involving area teams tonight, George Washington is at Duquesne, American at James Madison, Loyola at Navy, Howard at Eastern Illinois, and Georgia Tech visits No. 3 Virginia.

This is a crucial Atlantic-10 Conference game for George Washington (11-9, 2-5). The Colonials, led by freshman guard Troy Webster (17.9 points per game), are currently in fifth place in the conference's West division, one game behind Duquesne (8-11, 3-4). Therein lies the special significance of tonight's game at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena.

Eight teams qualify for the Atlantic-10 tournament. In each division, the fourth-place team will play host to the fifth-place team in a preliminary round to determine the seventh and eighth teams in the tournament.

Tonight's game might bear directly on the home-court advantage for that game.

Navy (13-8) should not have much difficulty with Loyola (1-16), the last Division I team to win a game.

The Maryland-at-Duke game in the Atlantic Coast Conference, lost to the blizzard Saturday, most likely will be made up Monday, Feb. 21. The opposing coaches and Duke Athletic Director Tom Butters were so agreed last night, pending confirmation by Maryland Athletic Director Dick Dull.

Some of the games canceled because of the blizzard will be played eventually, but no new dates have been set, school officials said.

Syracuse at Georgetown will be rescheduled because it will affect conference standings. George Mason at Maine, a nonconference game, has been canceled for good.