Rutgers Scarlet Knights: Better off Without Eli Carter?

Jux BergSenior Analyst IFebruary 18, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 08:  Head coach of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Mike Rice during a timeout against the Seton Hall Pirates at Madison Square Garden on March 8, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

The Rutgers family received bad news this past weekend when it was announced that leading scorer Eli Carter broke his leg and will miss the rest of the season.

Considering the Scarlet Knights have dropped seven of their last eight games this season, which was supposed to be a jump to the top half of the Big East standings, has seemingly gone from bad to worse.

What do I mean by "seemingly," you ask?  

Have you ever heard of the Ewing Theory?  Prolific columnist Bill Simmons borrowed the theory from his friend Dave Cirilli, and it is explained here.  In a nutshell, the theory originated when Cirilli noticed that Patrick Ewing's teams tended to play better with him out of the lineup.  

In 1999, for example, Ewing went down with a torn Achilles tendon in the Eastern Conference Finals, and then the Knicks fought back to defeat the heavily favored Indiana Pacers.

Another example would be Drew Bledsoe going down with an injury in 2001 and Tom Brady emerging to rally the Patriots from middling to Super Bowl Champions.  

Back to Rutgers.  

As a Cincinnati Bearcat fan, I have seen Rutgers play twice this season.  In both games, I saw a hint of negative body language from Carter's teammates as he repeatedly hoisted ill-advised shots and rarely shared the basketball.  Yes, Eli Carter has been Rutgers' leading scorer, but take a look at his numbers:

14.9 ppg, 38.4% from the field, and more turnovers than assists.

Look for fellow guard Myles Mack to benefit from Carter's absence.  Mack is averaging 13.2 ppg and is shooting over 50% from the field, including 45% from behind the arc.  

Carter has taken 77 more shots than Mack this season.

Let the Ewing Theory test begin tonight-- Rutgers travels to Villanova as a 10-point underdog.  The Scarlet Knights will have two big chances the first week of March (at No. 11 Georgetown and vs. No. 17 Marquette) to provide further data.