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ACC expansion talk: Is there room for 16 teams?

ACC presidents could vote on a Maryland replacement as early as this week, but two league sources believe an expansion to 16 is unlikely at this time.

UConn and Louisville are the favorites for the league's future 14th team. Maryland's defection to the Big Ten leaves the ACC with 13 entering the 2013 season. The league feels well-prepared for realignment talk after dealing with the additions of Pitt and Syracuse just 14 months ago, according to a source.

The ACC's 4-4-4 committee -- composed of presidents, athletic directors and faculty reps -- has been in the process of gathering information for the presidents. To add a school, ACC presidents would need a three-fourths-majority vote.

This is a crucial time for the ACC as other conferences debate whether to stand pat or invite schools as a counter-punch to Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany's flags planted on the East Coast with the recent additions of Maryland and Rutgers. The ACC might need to protect its own if that happens.

There is much to consider for these conferences: network contracts, exit fees, NCAA tournament credits, potential lawsuits, political factors. All of this affects the order in which things evolve and, in the end, the final outlook.

A prominent official from an ACC school told me Louisville and UConn both have something to offer but stressed academics will matter to presidents. This favors UConn, widely considered a top-75 national university. The Hartford area also is larger than Louisville's, but the Cardinals have a strong football/basketball product and aggressive AD Tom Jurich.

Member schools will be following whether Maryland can reduce the ACC's $50 million exit fee, but the conference believes it's a binding agreement among member schools.

Jeremy Fowler is a national college football insider with Fowler joined CBS in 2012 after covering the Minnesota Vikings for the St. Paul Pioneer Press for two seasons and covering the Florida Gators for the Orlando Sentinel for two years. Fowler is also a contributor to the CBS Sports Network.
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