The East Region’s #1 seed, Syracuse Orange, will be without their star center, Fab Melo, for the entire NCAA Tournament. Yahoo! Sports reports that Melo will sit out due to eligibility issues. Syracuse’s lone Big East loss was against Notre Dame, a game in which Melo had to sit out due to the same eligibility issues. The Orange haven’t released a public statement explaining why Melo won’t be playing in the tournament.
Melo’s defensive ability will be missed the most. He only scores 7.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, but he registers nearly three blocks (2.9) per game. The 7-footer’s absence will leave a large hole in the paint. Kris Joseph and C.J. Fair will have to play their best to fill the void. Syracuse may need to rely on Baye Keita and Rakeem Christmas to play more minutes. They are a deep team and play an extended rotation, but this could lead to an early exit in this year’s tournament.
This is a huge hit to Syracuse’s shot at winning the NCAA Tournament. Ohio State, the #2 seed in Syracuse’s bracket, are looking like the new favorites in the East Region. If Syracuse makes it to the Elite Eight and faces the Buckeyes, the Orange will have a very difficult time with Jared Sullinger. His inside game is powerful and a team needs size in order to stifle the young star.