Had the Memphis State guard not buried a buzzer-beater against Boston College three or four minutes ago, this season's Big East tournament might well have been played all over.

So much happened so quickly this next-to-last weekend of the NCAA playoffs that a Georgia Tech pass seemed to bounce into the hands of a Memphis State Tiger who chucked it to a Maryland Terrapin whose slam dunk rocketed off the rim into Billy Tubbs' mouth.

But when the final net got draped about the final shoulder and the final tear dried on some emblem-bedecked cheek, the conclusions were clear:

The right teams, the right players and the right coaches will prance into Lexington, Ky., for the Final Four after all: Georgetown and St. John's; Memphis State and Villanova. Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin and Keith Lee. Rollie and Looie.

For all the fussing about too many pretenders making the 64-team tournament Fairleigh ridiculous, the tweedy amateur handicappers at NCAA central were close to perfect.

Three top seeds made the Final Four, and the gang that pulled the only major upset, Villanova of top-rated Michigan in the Southeast Regional, joined them.

Seers who ventured more than a few inches out on a limb when the pairings were announced fluttered almost instantly to earth.


Hardly Cinderella in sneakers. Half its 10 losses were to St. John's and Georgetown. Two of the defeats by the Redmen were by a total of seven points; one of Georgetown's victories was in overtime.

Hindsight suggests the Wildcats' success against Michigan reflected the dominance of the Big Beast and relative weakness of the Little Ten this season.

North Carolina went slightly farther than expected. With Steve Hale hurt, the Heels stayed hearty until, in Villanova, they met their mental equal and melted.

BC would have made a wonderful story, it being the collection of hoop squirts who specialize in giant slaying. But an inbounds pass went awry and the smallish Turner again rose above everyone as State's DH.

That's designated hero.

The Eagles should have fared well against the team Memphis State beat for the Midwest title, Oklahoma. The Sooners play oil-well defense: they stand around and pray that a gusher of points peters out on its own eventually.

Turner often gets out of control himself. Still, he has enough nerve to demand the ball in those tense times when others either cannot break free or don't care to.

Turner's 17-foot jumper with five seconds left in overtime beat Alabama-Birmingham, 67-66, in the round of 32; there was no time for BC to recover from his 16-footer in the round of 16; he controlled the final minutes against Oklahoma in the round of eight.

"Everything has not always been perfect with Andre," Coach Dana Kirk admits. "There have been times I've had to sit him down, when he's getting a little wild.

"I'd put him right at my side and say, 'Okay, let's pretend you're the coach and I'm the point guard. Tell me what I should be doing.'

"If he settles down, he knows what to do. He understands the game."

From the first tipoff months ago, it's been something like 282 teams against one; the world versus Georgetown.

Now it's down to just two with a chance to wing the Hoyas. And given the nature of this season, and these playoffs so far . . .

Memphis State beats Villanova in one Saturday semifinal; Georgetown beats St. John's in the other.

The Hoyas then beat Memphis State and hand the NCAA trophy back to themselves. Patrick-to-John-to-Patrick, if you're scoring.

Turner, Lee and too much front-court power ought to tame the Wildcats. The Lee-led Tigers, after all, were the last team to keep Georgetown from the Final Four.

That was two years ago, in the Midwest Region quarterfinals, when Lee was eight for 11 from the field, 12 for 16 from the line and grabbed 15 rebounds during an 11-point victory.

Six of the present Hoyas played important minutes in that game; freshman Turner had less than ordinary numbers during 35 minutes but had a fine floor game.

Villanova also has a senior corps, one toughened by the Big East wars, that prides itself on being able to control any game without a shot clock.

But Villanova sometimes has a serious problem: it shoots crooked. Even with all the other virtues -- defense, hustle, ball handling, tempo, etc. -- a Philly team is doomed if it cannot score more regularly than the Phillies.

If the Wildcats do survive, glory be to Dave Gavitt; nobody really played much serious ball outside the Washington-to-Boston megalopolis.

If you're just hopping onto the NCAA hoop bandwagon, Georgetown and St. John's will play each other only two fewer times than the Celtics play the 76ers in that totally professional league.

In the three other games, St. John's won by a point at Georgetown; the Hoyas won by 16 in the rematch and by 12 in the Big East final.

It'll be six or so this time. Double revenge still doesn't penetrate a press. Wisdom on how the Hoyas handle Memphis comes in a week. Same time; same space.