Syracuse C Fab Melo Ineligible for NCAA Tournament

Syracuse has confirmed that center Fab Melo will not be eligible to participate in the NCAA Tournament, removing a key player from one of the nation's best teams and potentially damaging its shot at a deep run in the NCAA tournament.

The school said Melo would be absent because of an "eligibility issue," but would not explain further. He has already missed three games this season because of academic ineligibility.

Although many though Boeheim's squad had a decent shot at the national title, their road to the championship will be much tougher without the 7-foot Brazilian sophomore.

While playing for the Orange this season, Melo averaged 7.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game and was named the Big East Defensive Player of the Year.
Syracuse will now have to rely on sophomore Baye Keita and freshman Rakeem Christmas to fill in at center.

The Orange went 2-1 while Melo was academically ineligible earlier in the year, but that 67-58 loss to Notre Dame was one of only two losses Syracuse suffered this season.

In spite of Syracuse's school-record setting win total, this year has been marked by a number of scandals for the Orange.

Even before Melo's initial ineligibility, Syracuse was forced to dismiss associate head coach Bernie Fine after a pair of former ball boys accused Fine of sexually molesting them in the 1980s.

Charges have not yet been filed against Fine, but Head Coach Jim Boeheim and the school are facing a defamation lawsuit over their response to the incident.

Then, just last week, school officials announced that they were under NCAA investigation for a self-reported violation of its internal drug policy that did not involve any current players.

The 31-2 Orange are the number 1 seed in the East division and will play against 16th-seeded 24-9 UNC-Asheville on Thursday.