Fab Melo Out For NCAA Tournament: Previous Academic Issue Forces Syracuse Center To Miss NCAA Tournament

The Syracuse Basketball men's basketball program, a No. 1-seed in the East region of the NCAA Tournament, suffered a huge blow to their National Championship hopes Tuesday as sophomore center Fab Melo has been ruled ineligible to play in the NCAA Tournament.

... a source told ESPN.com's Dana O'Neil: "This is an academic issue related to the first suspension. He was initially cleared after the first suspension but the NCAA has since revisited the case and deemed him ineligible again."

According to CBSSports.com's Jeff Goodman, it seems the NCAA recently found out that Melo didn't do all his make-up work.

"The NCAA went back and looked at his schoolwork," one source told CBSSports.com. "They are looking into the fact that he didn't do some of the work."

The SU Athletic Department was the initial source of the news and has confirmed with local news organizations that no matter how far Syracuse advances in the month of March, the Big East Defensive Player of the Year will not play. Meanwhile, New York Times college sports writer Pete Thamel is reporting Melo intends to enter the NBA Draft.

This is expected to be the end of Melo’s career at Syracuse, as multiple sources, both in the N.B.A. and at Syracuse, have said Melo plans to declare for the N.B.A. draft after this season.

On Tuesday, Melo did not practice or travel with the team, which boarded a flight to Pittsburgh, PA for its Thursday's Round of 64 contest against No. 16 UNC-Asheville Bulldogs (3:10 p.m. ET on truTV).

This scenario is eerily similar to when Melo was initially ruled ineligible earlier in the season, Jan. 21, before a road game at the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The Orange, ranked No. 1 in the nation at the time, suffered its first loss of the season, 67-58.

Melo missed the next two contests, which featured Syracuse defeating the Cincinnati Bearcats and West Virginia Mountaineers, respectively. Less than a week later, Melo was cleared to play and returned to help the Orange down the St. John's Red Storm, 95-70.

From there, Syracuse rallied off eight consecutive victories to polish off its regular season with a school-best record of 31-1.


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On Sunday, the Orange earned a No. 1 seed in the East region of the NCAA Tournament and was one of two favorites -- the other being Kentucky Wildcats -- to win the 2012 National Championship.

Syracuse will now turn to sophomore center Baye Keita, freshman Rakeem Christmas and junior forward James Southerland to fill the void.

In the three games that Melo missed earlier in the year, Christmas (2.5 points per game, 2.6 rebounds per game, 10.3 minutes per game) had mixed results, Keita (2.2 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 11.6 mpg) has really struggled this season after being a reliable bench player last year, while Southerland (6.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 15.8 mpg) has been very streaky throughout this year.

Despite the 2-1 record without the 7-footer, the Orange were clearly a different squad without him anchoring their very tough 2-3 zone.

Last season, Melo entered as the top-ranked center prospect, a McDonald's All-American, the Big East's Preseason Rookie of the Year honor and struggled to fulfill high expectations after averaging 2.9 ppg and 1.9 rpg. Melo did start in 24 of SU's 32 games, but averaged just 9.9 minutes per game.

-- For a full rundown of Syracuse's season of twist and turns, visit this SB Nation New York StoryStream.

-- For more on Syracuse, visit Nunes Magician. For more coverage of Syracuse in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, visit SB Nation New York's StoryStream. Click here for a link to our NCAA bracket 2012.

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