Syracuse’s Fab Melo ruled ineligible
Hopefully you haven’t submitted your final bracket yet.
Syracuse announced yesterday that center Fab Melo will be ineligible for the entire NCAA tournament.
The school announced nothing as the reason other than an “eligibility issue,” but ESPN’s Dana O’Neil is reporting that it is an academic issue connected to his first suspension in January.
“Given University policy and federal student privacy laws, no further details can be provided at this time,” Syracuse’s official athletic site said.
Melo did not even travel with the team to Pittsburgh for their opening game against No. 16 seed UNC-Ashville (Thursday, 3:10 p.m.).
The sophomore 7-footer is averaging 7.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game this season. He may be missed more defensively, where he anchors the middle of the Orange’s vaunted 2-3 zone.
Melo was held out of three games earlier this season while the school looked into an academic issue. Their loss to Notre Dame on Jan. 21 — their only regular season defeat — came during that three-game stretch. They also came out with a controversial two-point win over West Virginia, in which Melo’s backup, Baye Keita, appeared to commit goaltending on a last second shot by West Virginia’s Deniz Kilicli.
The Orange will likely play with a smaller lineup, as they did in the three games Melo missed earlier this season. Keita played significant minutes off the bench.
Syracuse has already dealt with a myriad of distractions this season, including the sexual assault scandal surrounding assistant coach Bernie Fine, who was later fired, and Yahoo! Sports’ recent disclosure that former players hadn’t been suspended after failing drug tests.
Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.