Bill Simmons, internet sports writing megastar, had this to say on twitter after the A & M victory.
Attn: Ewing Theory Committee. Emergency meeting scheduled! Time: 3/21 7pm. Subject: Hummel, Robbie. Attendance: Mandatory.
If you don't know what the Ewing Theory is, here you go:
It is pretty much the idea that a team loses a big name guy and the team goes on to much greater success than they had while the star was playing. Common examples are Drew Bledsoe with New England and Tee Martin winning a championship the year after Peyton Manning left Tennessee.
Whichever person was running the Boiled Sports twitter tonight was on the ball and sent a reply. Simmons responded by saying that the team kept fighting even though it lost its star, which is a big part of the theory. Simmons eventually backtracked and put this up:
Fine, fine, I'll wait until after the Duke game to convene the Ewing Theory committee. For now Purdue sits in the "Nobody believed in us!" zone.
That is a much more accurate statement. If you read Simmons or listen to his podcast, he admits that he really doesn't like college basketball and he only pays attention to conference tourneys and the NCAAs. He also loves to try to pigeonhole every situation into one of his pet theories. Since I know he hasn't been paying attention to Purdue this year, I am going to assume that his impressions of this team have been formed by media coverage.
Sometimes I get kind of tired of hearing the complaining from other Purdue fans about how everyone disrespects this team and no one believes in them. Well, they're right.
I've started rambling a little bit here, so let's get back to the Ewing Theory and Robbie Hummel. Here are some reasons why this comparison is nonsense at this point:
- The team is looking better, but not as good as when Hummel was playing. This is obvious to anyone who has followed the season. Having a smaller lineup has not helped. Robbie Hummel didn't hog the ball or get in the way of other players who are now thriving since getting more opportunities. There have been some people step up, but the void has not been completely filled.
- It will take a pretty big upset for Purdue to get to the Final Four. One part of the theory states that the team will advance farther without Hummel than they ever could with him. If Hummel wasn't hurt, Purdue would be a two seed at worst. They wouldn't have played a anybody better than a seven seed in the second round. Purdue would not face a team as good as Duke until either the Elite Eight or the Final Four. Once Hummel was hurt, the committee knocked Purdue down to a four seed. Unless a team is very lucky with upsets in their bracket, it is harder to advance in the tournament as a worse seed.
- Purdue has yet to upset any team as far as seeding is concerned. Popular opinion (led by "analysts" such as Seth Davis) may have pegged Purdue as an underdog in the first and second rounds, but the committee (and many Purdue fans) thought this team would be here. It may be surprising to some people to see Purdue get this far, but to call either of the first two games more than a mild upset is wrong.
The only was this Ewing Theory garbage works is if Purdue gets at least to the Final Four. I'm not even sure that it would qualify then, but I would be happy to argue about it if the Boilers are playing in Indy in a couple of weeks.