How Fab! FSU’s path gets easier in the Big Dance

Find a shredder and get rid of that first draft, bracketmakers.

In a stunning turn of events, Syracuse sophomore center Fab Melo has been declared ineligible for the entire 2012 NCAA Tournament and did not travel with the team to Pittsburgh for the Orange’s first game of the Big Dance.

The Brazilian was considered by many to be the most influential player in the East region of the tournament bracket, and guess who else is in that bracket?

Why, Florida State of course!

FSU has been a popular pick so far to make a deep run in this tournament, and the Melo suspension has to make people even more confident about that prediction. Recently, I wrote about how Syracuse might be the best team in the nation, so it isn’t a bad thing to see the Orange’s only threat to stop the likes of Bernard James and Xavier Gibson take a seat.

But there’s still St. Bonaventure. And then probably Cincinnati. And then probably Ohio State. So don’t think that the Seminoles are guaranteed to emerge from the East bracket unscathed.

In the interim, the popular pick to upset Syracuse is the No. 5 seed of the region, Vanderbilt. But they have to get past Harvard first (don’t laugh … Harvard is capable of that early-round upset).

However, if you’re a fan of the Commodores, things are definitely looking better for the SEC Champs than they were yesterday.

CBS Sports is reporting that Melo’s problem might be with academics. Their sources say he might not have done his own schoolwork. If that’s true, you have to figure Syracuse is in a lot of trouble.

Aside from the Seminoles and Commodores, the Ohio State Buckeyes are getting a lot of love from the experts when it comes to the East’s Final Four pick. The No. 2 seed would face the third-seeded Seminoles in the Sweet Sixteen if no upsets occurred, and basketball fans have to be looking forward to the possibility of watching OSU’s Jared Sullinger take on FSU’s big men.

But the news of the day is that Syracuse is losing a major piece of their team at the worst time. And since I’ve been asked the same question over and over in the last two days, I’ll go ahead and give you an answer.

How far can Florida State go in this tournament?

I’ll tell you how far they can go — all the way. There’s nobody in the country that can beat FSU on their best day. Not North Carolina. Not Missouri. Not Kentucky.

But there isn’t a guaranteed victory in this tournament for any of the teams involved, and if the Seminoles use the Melo news of today as a means to look past St. Bonaventure in the first round, they’ll be going home early because the Bonnies sure can play.

Even though there is a long way to go, Florida State’s chances to make it to the Final Four in the Big Easy got a little bit … easier … today.

That’s Fab.

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