Along with Kentucky, Syracuse has been the best team in college basketball this season. They finished the regular season with a record of 30-1. Syracuse doesn't have a true star and one of the reasons they had so much success this year is their depth.
However, if Fab Melo were taken off the team, Syracuse would struggle. These are the top five reasons why Syracuse needs Fab Melo this March.
Probably the biggest argument that the Orange need Fab Melo is that he was the only player missing in their lone loss of the season. He was suspended for two games, the first against Notre Dame on January 21st which the team ended up losing 67-58.
One of Syracuse's biggest weaknesses is their rebounding. Without Fab Melo, it would be even worse. Fab Melo averages nearly six rebounds a game this season, a substantial improvement over his average of 1.8 a game last year.
This year he has been averaging 2.5 offensive rebounds a game which means he is giving Syracuse nearly three additional offensive opportunities each game.
It is pretty well known in college basketball that if you want to beat Syracuse, you need to break down their 2-3 zone. There are a number of moving parts in this defense and everybody needs to know their roles.
Fab Melo has arguably the most important role in the defense, guarding the paint and the basket. He has done a great job this year and the defense is not nearly as effective when he isn't on the court.
One of the biggest improvements Melo has made in his game this season is his blocking ability. He is averaging 3.1 blocks per game, which is good enough for ninth in college basketball.
This ties into him being the anchor in the 2-3 zone defense as he brings an intimidation factor. Players will sometimes think twice about driving to the lane with Melo there and will settle for a jumper.
Fab Melo has been a dominant force on the defensive side of the ball all season but has started to show flashes of offensive ability as of late. He has had 10 double-digit scoring games this season but has had seven of those games in the last 11 games.
If Fab Melo can continue to develop his offensive game, this will only help Syracuse in their halfcourt offense that has looked stagnant at times this season.