Found March 15, 2012 on BeyondUSports:

Two Big Tournament Story Lines

Today OFFICIALLY starts March Madness; yes the few games to see who the final teams in the tournament were great, but now the real fun begins. The brackets have been filled out. The teams are rested. Let’s get this show on the road, right? Here are some of the top stories that will be surrounding this year.

Fab Melo not playing: How will Melo’s absence affect Syracuse’s chances in the tournament? Melo was ruled ineligible due to an academic issue that is reportedly related to the earlier suspension Melo faced during the regular season. Jim Boeheim would not comment on specifics of the incident but did say that the team was moving forward without Melo. He will be replaced by backups Baye Keita and Rakeem Christmas. Christmas is a freshman and Keita is a sophomore. We can’t forget that Syracuse is a #1 seed for the tournament, but with Melo out will that affect their game play? I would have to say yes; his size and experience is hard to defend and guard and his replacements are 20 pounds lighter than him. The Orange were 2-1 without Melo earlier in the season when he was serving his first suspension. But this is the NCAA Tournament when regular season victories and losses seem insignificant. It will be very interesting to see how Syracuse reacts and responds to Melo’s absence.

Photo courtesy of ESPN.com / Syracuse will have to play the NCAA tournament without star player Fab Melo, who has been ruled ineligible.

How will the bubble teams fair? USF earned their spot in the field of 64 teams They held the California Golden Bears to just 13 first half points to get past their first foe and now focus on #5 Temple on Friday. #16 Vermont also defeated #16 Lamar on Wednesday night. Vermont was led by freshman Four McGlynn who scored 18 points off the bench to now prepare for #1 UNC. With how well the Catamounts played (they shot 50% from the field and held the Cardinals to 33%), it’s hard to doubt that this year’s tournament won’t provide a Cinderella story. The lower ranked seeds (I’m talking ranked #10 and lower) could be pesky for teams that think they will easily move onto the second round. Take #11 NC State, for example. They were two points away from beating #1 UNC (don’t forget that no-call foul that would have changed the outcome of the game) and they will now match up against #6 San Diego State. The Wolfpack are also playing in the first NCAA tournament game since 2006 and you have to believe they are hungry.

Today kicks off the best few weeks in college basketball. Should we expect upsets? Yes. Will all four #1 seeds make the Final Four? I’m going to say no. We won’t be disappointed with this year’s tournament. Keep in mind, a plethora of these kids will also be announcing they are heading to the NBA Draft, so this is it for them. Get ready to watch them shine.

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