Syracuse starting center Fab Melo has been declared ineligible for the NCAA Tournament. The university announced Tuesday that the 7-foot Brazilian, who did not travel with the team to Pittsburgh for the second- and third-round games, won't take part in the tournament because of an eligibility problem. The school did not elaborate. Melo missed three games earlier this season — including one of the top-seeded Orange's two losses — because of an academic problem.
NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson said Syracuse, not the NCAA, declared Melo ineligible.
Coach Jim Boeheim said the Orange will be "ready to play."
Melo's sudden ineligibility made waves in Las Vegas, where Cantor Gaming dropped Syracuse's chances of winning the title to 12-1 from 10-1 Tuesday morning, said Mike Colbert, Cantor's risk management director. Syracuse went from a 161/2-point favorite against 16th-seeded UNC-Asheville to a 151/2-point favorite.
Henson's status unclear for Heels
North Carolina Coach Roy Williams said Tuesday he probably won't know until Thursday whether John Henson will be ready for the Tar Heels' tournament opener the next day against the Lamar-Vermont winner. Henson hurt his left wrist on a fall during the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament in Atlanta. The 6-foot-10 forward didn't play the final two games of the tournament.
"If I had to guess — and this is merely a guess — if the game were today, he probably still would not play today," Williams said. "But we're being hopeful that he will be Friday."
UCLA sticking with Howland
UCLA Athletics Director Dan Guerrero said Tuesday that Coach Ben Howland will remain in charge of the troubled program. Coming off what he called the most disappointing season of his coaching career, Howland said he's intent on changing the culture of the UCLA program, which staggered through a year that included an NCAA snub and the dismissal of standout player Reeves Nelson.
The Bruins finished fifth in the conference for the second straight year and lost in the quarterfinals of the league tournament, giving them a 19-14 record. They were left out of the NCAA Tournament, and even the NIT didn't take them.
SMU fires Doherty
Southern Methodist fired Coach Matt Doherty on Tuesday after six seasons in which the high-profile former North Carolina coach failed to take the Mustangs to the NCAA Tournament. Doherty went 13-19 this year and 80-109 in six years with SMU. Athletics Director Steve Orsini said he thought the school — which hasn't made the tournament since 1993 — had the potential to reach the national rankings and compete for championships. SMU will move from Conference USA to the much tougher Big East in 2013.
Obama has UK in Final Four
President Barack Obama is picking Kentucky, Ohio State, Missouri and North Carolina to reach the Final Four. Obama filled out NCAA Tournament brackets for ESPN for the fourth straight year Tuesday. On the women's side, he selected Baylor, St. John's, Connecticut and Notre Dame. ESPN will reveal his full men's bracket Wednesday morning.
Around the nation
Georgia Tech: Glen Rice Jr. was kicked off the team Tuesday, less than a week after a shooting incident outside an Atlanta nightclub led to criminal charges. Coach Brian Gregory cut ties with the junior guard, who was serving his second suspension of the season at the time of the latest trouble. Rice, son of the former NBA star, led Georgia Tech in scoring and rebounding this season but had numerous disciplinary problems.
Samford: The school has fired longtime coach Jimmy Tillette, Athletics Director Martin Newton announced Tuesday.
Bellarmine 78, Kentucky Wesleyan 74: Chris Dowe had 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Jeremy Kendle added 19 points as the host Knights pulled away in the second half to advance to the final eight of the NCAA Division II Tournament. The defending champs will take on Alabama-Huntsville next Wednesday at Northern Kentucky University's Bank of Kentucky Center.
Massachusetts 101, Mississippi State 96 (2OT): Chaz Williams scored 28 points, Sean Carter added 20, and UMass outlasted the host Bulldogs in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament. Arnett Moultrie scored a career-high 34 points and Dee Bost added 20 for State.