Syracuse's national championship hopes took a big hit today with the news regarding Fab Melo.
Syracuse starting center Fab Melo will miss the entire NCAA Tournament because of an eligibility issue.
SU released a statement explaining the situation:
Syracuse University sophomore men's basketball center Fab Melo did not travel with the team to Pittsburgh, and will not take part in the NCAA Tournament due to an eligibility issue. Given University policy and federal student privacy laws, no further details can be provided at this time.
Melo missed three games earlier this season due to academic issues.
The announcement certainly affects the Orange's chances of taking home a national championship.
Prior to the news, Syracuse was considered one of the favorites to win the title. Now, many people are counting them out.
The Orange are the number one seed in the East, and were ranked as the second best team in the whole tournament by the selection committee.
With this season's Big East Defensive Player of the Year out for the Tournament, Syracuse is not the powerhouse it was on Selection Sunday.
But Syracuse still has a chance to bring home a national championship.
It's not impossible that Syracuse could make a run. In college basketball these days, anybody can string together a few really good games.
Last year, 11th seeded VCU won five games in the Tournament to make it to the Final Four. Butler was an 8th seed and they made it to the Championship game for the second straight year.
If those teams can make a run, this Syracuse team is certainly capable of winning a few games. With Melo out of the lineup, SU is still better than those teams ever were.
The loss of Melo will certainly make the road to the Final Four a lot tougher for Syracuse.
SU had just one loss in the season, prior to getting bounced in the Big East Tournament. That loss came with Fab Melo out of the lineup.
The Orange are also very thin in the frontcourt without Melo.
Baye Keita, SU's backup center, averages less than 12 minutes per game, and has played even less recently. Freshman Rakeem Christmas can shift over to center, but he plays even less than Keita.
Syracuse certainly isn't as good as they once were, but they're still one of the better teams in the country.
They have the best sixth man in the Tournament in Dion Waiters, and their vaunted 2-3 zone is still formidable without Melo's presence.
The Orange allow 60.4 points per game on the season. In the three games Melo was suspended, they gave up 60.3 points per game.
Syracuse has five players who average more points per game than the center.
Melo is very good, but let's not overstate his importance to the team.
It won't be easy for the Orange to make a big run. They may very well be knocked out of the Tournament on the first weekend.
But to say SU has no shot to win it all is utter nonsense.