What Does Notre Dame's Exit Mean for the Big East?

What Does Notre Dame's Exit Mean for the Big East?

The Atlantic Coast Conference announced Wednesday morning that it
has accepted Notre Dame
as a member for all sports excluding
football, although the school will now play five football games per season against ACC members. According to the release, the move will be made official as
soon as ND can go about negotiating its exit from its current
conference.

That conference, the Big East, officially
requires a 27-month notice for all departures, although West Virginia,
Pittsburgh and Syracuse have worked out deals within the last year that
expedited that process in exchange for larger exit
fees.

So, back to our age-old question, what does
this mean for the Big East?

Almost exactly 11 months
ago, in reviewing doomsday scenarios for the conference before it added
seven new members, I
mentioned this move
-- Notre Dame to the ACC -- as a
possibility, and tied it to the future of Big East stalwart UCONN.
Specifically, that if Notre Dame did become the ACC's 15th school, UCONN
would be a natural fit as No. 16.

Back then, the
scenario actually revolved around the implosion of Big East football,
but UCONN to the ACC really made sense regardless of the future of
football. This speculation followed reports that suggested UCONN
was aggressively seeking
a move to the ACC and that the
conference actually wanted UCONN
before it settled for
Pittsburgh.

A few months later, in Feb. 2012, the
Hartford Courant (via the BC
Interruption
blog)
published:

"Sources told The Courant recently
that the ACC has a 16-team model in place with its first choices being
Notre Dame and UConn, but with Notre Dame maintaining its independent
position there is no rush to go to 16. If the ACC can't convince Notre
Dame, Rutgers could get the call with UConn, but sources say there is no
rush there, either."

Well, the ACC nabbed
Notre Dame. It has 15 schools for basketball (and 14 for football), which it could live with as balance in basketball isn't as important as in football. That said, you'll also notice the wording above reads,
"if the [ACC] can't convince Notre Dame," as if UCONN is a forgone
conclusion. Joe Giglio of the Charlotte Observer (via VUHoops) reports that there are no plans to expand to 16 as long as Notre Dame remains independent for football.

Bracket further ACC expansion for a second, and here's what we're looking at: the Big
East has lost a member in Notre Dame, leaving it with 17 schools for
basketball (this number includes the 2013 arrivals of  UCF,
Memphis, SMU and Houston). The move, on its own, does not impact
football, which will have 13 schools by 2015.

As Big
East commissioner Mike
Aresco stated over the weekend
, a 14th school would make
sense for football. Well, now it would make sense for basketball, too.
Should the Big East accept a next new member for all sports, it would
set the football and basketball totals at even numbers -- 14 and 18,
respectively.

Of course, the Big East might not be the only
conference looking to add.

The ACC
-- who has already taken Virginia Tech, Boston College, Miami, Syracuse, Pittsburgh
and Notre Dame from the Big East in the last eight years -- could always come
calling for one more down the line.

Regardless of what happens with the ACC, Notre Dame's exit is another loss for the Big East. And, on it's own, it's really not so bad. But if it paves the way for another departure, then it's substantial.

*

Follow The700Level on Facebook and Twitter.

Record-breaking crowds flood the Parkway for NFL Draft Experience in Philly

Record-breaking crowds flood the Parkway for NFL Draft Experience in Philly

Who needs to the Pope when you have Ginger Jesus?

The NFL Draft Experience joined a long list of wildly popular events in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and all along the Ben Franklin Parkway.

The NFL announced today that nearly 100,000 fans enjoyed the experience, the most-ever for a draft-related event, on day 1 of the draft alone.

Fans flooded into the Experience with people from all across the country in town to support their respective teams. Eagles fans clearly dominated the crowd, however, as you couldn't go a few minutes without hearing an E-A-G-L-E-S chant. 

ESPN also showed some love all night long. SportsCenter's Scott Van Pelt called the story of the night in Philadelphia the city of Philly itself. Adam Schefter called it the "wildest, most raucous crowd in draft history." Jon Gruden called Philly "one of the greatest football towns on the planet."

Aside from not being totally in love with their first pick Derek Barnett upon first blush, Philly fans showed off wonderfully. Even the booing of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell came off as cute.

The Draft Experience is open again on Friday from noon until 11:00 pm and on Saturday from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm. It's free for all fans.

Try the games, avoid the cheesesteaks. And bring some sunscreen (ugh).

By the numbers: Jeremy Hellickson legitimately among NL's best the last year

By the numbers: Jeremy Hellickson legitimately among NL's best the last year

Unless you're a die-hard Phillies fan, you might not grasp just how good Jeremy Hellickson has been since the start of 2016.

Hellickson, who allowed one run in six innings Thursday to improve to 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA this season, hasn't just been solid — he's legitimately been one of the best pitchers in the National League.

Some stats to back it up:

• Hellickson has a 1.11 WHIP the last two seasons. That's a better mark than Noah Syndergaard, Johnny Cueto, Cole Hamels, David Price, Dallas Keuchel, Jose Quintana and Chris Archer have.

• Over the last calendar year, Hellickson's 3.29 ERA ranks ninth-best in the NL. Over that span he has a lower ERA than some really good pitchers like Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke, Carlos Martinez, Hamels, Quintana and Rick Porcello. It's almost identical to Chris Sale's 3.26 ERA over that span.

• Hellickson over the last calendar year has walked 2.03 batters per nine innings. That's fifth-best in the NL behind only Mike Leake, Bartolo Colon, Madison Bumgarner and Syndergaard. (Jerad Eickhoff is a spot below Hellickson at 2.05 and then comes Max Scherzer at 2.08).

• How has Hellickson been so effective with so low a strikeout rate? He's thrown exactly 250 pitches since 2016 on the low-outside corner and low-inside corner. That's fifth-most in the majors, behind only Jon Lester, Zach Davies, Keuchel and Kyle Hendricks. Paint.

This stat refers to zones 17 and 19 in the image below.

Of course, Hellickson has done this with an extremely low strikeout rate. He's never been a big strikeout guy, but he did say Thursday he's been a bit surprised to have this much success in 2017 with his lowest career K rate. 

Hellickson has a very low batting average on balls in play which will regress closer to his career average, but it's not as if luck is the sole factor here. As mentioned above, he's hit spots as well as almost anyone in the majors. 

And the changeup, his elite pitch, gets some swings and misses but more often results in weak contact and quick outs. The worm will turn at some point, but Hellickson shouldn't be expected to fall off a cliff and revert back into a pitcher with a high-4.00s ERA.

The Phillies did well with this acquisition two offseasons ago and may have been fortunate things with Hellickson worked out the way they did. He has even more trade value now than he did a year ago.