NCAA Tournament 2012 Results: Syracuse Win Proves Orange Don't Need Fab Melo

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 17:  Jordan Henriquez #21 of the Kansas State Wildcats attempts a shot in the second half against James Southerland #43 of the Syracuse Orange during the third round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Consol Energy Center on March 17, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The Syracuse Orange's 75-59 win over the Kansas State Wildcats showed the Orange can still be serious title contenders without Fab Melo.

When Melo was declared ineligible for the tournament, many college basketball fans began to question whether Syracuse still had a realistic shot at winning the national championship.

Many people brought up the fact that they were without Melo for their lone loss during the regular season.

Things didn't start well for the Orange following their 72-65 win over UNC Asheville. It looked for much of the game like the tournament was about to see the first ever 16-seed win a game.

It would have been very easy to see the team lose confidence in itself and implode in the next round. There were probably some players who even briefly questioned what kind of team they were without their big man.

Instead, Syracuse pulled through and rebounded quite well against Kansas State. This is the kind of win that can strengthen the belief that they can win without Melo.

Now with the benefit of hindsight, Melo might not be as big of a loss as initially believed. You don't go 33-2 in the Big East by relying on one player.

The Orange really got a lot of production across the board in the win.

James Southerland came off the bench for 15 points and six rebounds. Dion Waiters added 18 points from the bench as well.

Melo was a huge catalyst for the team's success in the Big East, but now that the tournament has arrived, he may not be as necessary.

He was the team's leading rebounder, but he wasn't the kind of big man who you just feed when he's down in the post; Melo only averaged about eight points a game.

His biggest impact came on defense, but now that the tournament is here, Syracuse doesn't have to rely on that as much.

They're a very good defensive team across the board, but they don't have to worry about playing the physical style of game that they encountered so much in the Big East.

And looking ahead, neither Vanderbilt nor Wisconsin are teams that are really going to benefit greatly from Melo's absence.

Each team has a solid big man in Festus Ezeli and Jared Berggren, respectively, but neither is going to take the game over.

With the kind of performance they put in against Kansas State, Syrcause has shown they can survive without Fab Melo.