Even without Melo, Syracuse won’t lose to UNC-Asheville

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Not long before the Fab Melo ineligibility shocker dropped, there was a post over at kenpom.com titled “This is the year a 1 loses to a 16.”

The bulls-eye is now firmly on Syracuse, the top seed in the East.

The No. 16 seeds have never won an NCAA tournament game vs. a 1, going 0-108 since 1985. There have been close calls – Georgetown-Princeton in ’89, Michigan State-Murray State in ’90 – but it’s never happened. But as Ken Pomeroy notes, the 16s are rated unusually high this season.

By various ratings, Lamar is the best 16 seed that’s ever been in the field. Vermont and UNC Asheville are the fifth- and sixth-best.

Melo won’t play. North Carolina, the No. 1 seed in the Midwest, may not have starting power forward John Henson. Could this really be the year? Still seems doubtful.

Among the 10 best 16 seeds listed by Pomeroy, only ’09 East Tennessee State (lost 72-62 to Pitt) and ’86 Montana State (lost 83-74 to St. John’s) were close to pulling off wins. The 1s haven’t lost for reason. They’re better, and they have time to prepare for the opponent.

Syracuse’s margin for error is smaller, yes – in three games without Melo this season, the Orange were more like the 33rd best team, not the 4th – but it’s still a sizeable margin.

UNC Asheville (24-9)  is small, scrappy team that likes to push the tempo. Even without Melo, Syracuse (31-2) has a decisive size advantage and guards in Scoop Jardine and Brandon Triche who will handle pressure and create some of their own on the perimeter.

The only way Syracuse loses Thursday if it decides to pout and not play hard. The rest of the tournament? That’s another story.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Report: Four-star center reclassifying to 2015; down to three

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An interesting recruiting development hit on Friday as Josh Gershon of Scout.com reported that four-star center Jayce Johnson is reclassifying to the Class of 2015 and looking to join a program at semester break.

The 7-foot native of California is down to Cal, Colorado and Utah and Johnson is on an official visit to Utah this weekend after transferring to a charter school this week. As Gershon notes, only Cal has a scholarship to offer Johnson this season, but the family is willing to pay a semester at the other programs if it’s the right fit. Johnson would like to redshirt and train with his future college while playing against more mature players.

But if Johnson is persuaded not to redshirt, he could be an intriguing big man off the bench later in the season for a couple of teams looking to make a postseason appearance. As the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson is a talented prospect and he isn’t afraid to score with either hand. With some time to fill out, Johnson can turn into a talented Pac-12 player down the road.

VIDEO: Utah Valley’s Mark Pope dances, lip syncs with daughters

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New Utah Valley head coach Mark Pope made quite an impression on fans at the team’s Midnight Madness celebration last night. That’s because Pope did a dance and lip sync routine with his four daughters that turned out to be pretty impressive.

The former BYU assistant looks to be the leader in the clubhouse for best coach dance so far this preseason. We’ll see if any other coaches pull out elaborate routines at madness celebrations the next few weeks.