With the top seed in the East, No. 2 AP & ESPN/USA Today Syracuse (31-2), being without their starting center, sophomore Fab Melo, who did not travel with the team to Pittsburgh and the University has said will not play in the NCAA Tournament, a major question comes out now: Can SU still get out of that region and head to New Orleans? And while the majority of the Orange fan base will tell you yes, I have a feeling that the answer might be a no. The good part is that if I can say no but not sure which team could do it, it might also mean that none might be able to beat Syracuse.
I will also say this, for now all we know is that the young man can not play, but to say why is only speculation and I will not go into that as I feel unless we know they whole story we would be doing a dis-service to both this blog and the people involved.
The bad part is that right now I count about five teams that will give the Orange a run for their money in their games. Prior to the dismissal of Fab Melo that list was maybe two. That alone makes me think that it’s more likely than not that SU will not arrive to proverbial promised land in New Orleans, a goal set by most after seeing this team perform for over thirty games. From the second round on, when they could be playing Kansas State, Syracuse will have their hands full with their opponents. If they do make it past the second game Syracuse would have either have to play Vanderbilt or Wisconsin, both of those teams would be a hard match up with a Meloless SU squad. If I had to pick for head coach Jim Boeheim’s team I would prefer facing off against Wisconsin. Then the following game would have to be, if the games are chalk for the most part, with either a Florida State team that has been on fire or a Ohio State team that like North Carolina many people have given up on. For both of these team this would definitely be a way to show the college world landscape they are a lot better than the so-called experts and/or analysts have been saying. Both these teams have shooters that can hurt you from beyond the arc, can dribble into the lane for a floater as well as post players that can dominate the paint. That for a team without the starting center can not be a good thing.
This means that from round two (or as the NCAA would like us to call it, round three) on this Orange squad is going to be facing teams that can provide problems for them at full strength. Now that they will not have their man in the middle this problem is going to be even bigger and in my humble non professional view point, it’s going to be hard for Syracuse to get past all of this teams, especially the back to back second weekend match ups of Vandy/Wis and then FSU/OSU. Coach Boeheim and his squad begin their journey into the tournament tomorrow at 3:10 p.m. EST against UNC-Asheville. That game should be the one that SU will take home pretty easily, but from then one it’s anyone’s guess if they make it through or not.