PITTSBURGH (AP) - Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim says the Orange will be "ready to play" without sophomore center Fab Melo, who has been ruled ineligible for the NCAA tournament.
The university announced Tuesday that the 7-foot Brazilian, who did not travel with the team to Pittsburgh for the second- and third-round games, won't take part in the tournament due to an
eligibility issue. The school did not elaborate.
Melo missed three games earlier this season because of an academic issue. As he left the bus in front of the team hotel Tuesday, Boeheim at first said he nothing to say. He then told The Associated Press that "all we can do is be ready to play with the guys we have."
Boeheim has not decided who will start in Melo's place. It's a big blow to the Orange (31-2), the top seed in the East Regional. They play 16th-seeded UNC Asheville (24-9), the Big South
champion, on Thursday afternoon.
Melo, a 7-footer, was the Big East defensive player of the year and made coach Jim Boeheim's 2-3 zone defense a formidable one. He averaged 7.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and registered 88 blocks.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)