Syracuse University center Fab Melo won’t play in the men’s national college basketball tournament because of eligibility issues, according to the school.
Melo, a 7-footer from Juiz de Forz, Brazil, averaged 7.8 points and a team-leading 5.8 rebounds per contest for Syracuse, which went 31-2 and 17-1 in the Big East Conference. With 88 blocked shots, the sophomore was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year.
Melo, who missed three games this season because of academic issues, didn’t travel with the second-ranked Orange to Pittsburgh for the team’s tournament-opening game against the University of North Carolina Asheville, the Syracuse, New York, school said on its website. No further information was released because of university and student privacy laws.
Syracuse is one of four No. 1 regional seeds in the field of 68 teams for the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament, joining Kentucky, Michigan State and North Carolina. The Orange begin play on March 15.
Odds on Syracuse to win the national title moved to 20-1 from 12-1 at the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino following the announcement of Melo’s ineligibility. A winning $10 bet on the Orange to win their second national championship would net $200. Syracuse last won the title in 2003, beating the University of Kansas in the NCAA final.
The Orange suffered their only regular-season loss, 67-58 to Notre Dame, during Melo’s January absence. He was in the lineup when Syracuse fell 71-68 to Cincinnati during the Big East tournament on March 9.
Syracuse has averaged 1.3 fewer rebounds than its opponents this season, tied for 235th of the 338 schools in the NCAA’s top division.
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