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#FabMeloFacts: The Syracuse center will play Saturday

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Fab Melo (Getty Images)

Fab Melo created a #FabMeloFacts hashtag on Twitter this week, a meme that featured Chuck Norris-style statements about the Syracuse 7-footer.

One read, "If Fab Melo says it's gonna cost an arm and a leg, you better run before he rips off one of your limbs." Another read "Fab Melo doesn't drink Dos Equis. It isn't interesting enough for him."

Here's the only #FabMeloFact Syracuse fans truly care about: The sophomore center is ready to return to the team.

According to the Post-Standard, Syracuse will announce Thursday that Melo has been cleared to play Saturday when the Orange meet St. John's. An undisclosed academic issue had sidelined Melo for Syracuse's last three games, during which the Orange (22-1, 9-1) suffered their lone loss of the season at Notre Dame but rebounded to defeat Cincinnati and West Virginia.

The return of Melo is critical to Syracuse's hopes of hanging onto the Big East title, earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and making a deep run in March.

Melo, a highly touted recruit who played sparingly during a disappointing freshman season, has bounced back strong as a sophomore, averaging 7.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in 22.7 minutes per game. His shot-blocking presence in the middle of Syracuse's trademark zone enables the guards to gamble for steals that fuel the Orange's transition offense without having to worry about giving up a dunk if they get beaten off the dribble.  

The most logical explanation for Melo's absence seems to be that he spent last week doing makeup work to elevate a first semester grade that wasn't up to par. Initially Syracuse reportedly hoped to have Melo back as soon as last Saturday's game against West Virginia, but apparently the academic issue was not resolved in time.

Regardless, Melo's return is great news for Syracuse.

Two years ago, it was an ill-timed injury to Arinze Onuaku that helped thwart Syracuse's bid to make the Final Four. This year, the Orange doesn't have to worry about another postseason run being disrupted by the absence of the team's starting center.

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