ACC remains all-powerful in hoops with Louisville-Maryland swap

Adding Rick Pitino's Cardinals is a big coup for the ACC. (US Presswire)

It didn't take long for the ACC to find a replacement for Maryland

Less than a week after the Terps decided to bolt the league for the Big Ten, commissioner John Swofford has added Louisville with the blessing of the league's presidents and chancellors -- who voted early Wednesday morning to add the Cardinals. 

Not a bad swap at all. 

Louisville is strong is both football and basketball, has one of the nation's largest athletic budgets and also gives the league a brand-new geographic market. The football program is set to go to its third consecutive bowl game under Charlie Strong while the men's basketball program went to the Final Four last season, has a beautiful new facility and is a national title contender this year. 

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It's one of the Top 10 college basketball programs in the nation -- even when Rick Pitino does decide to retire. Pitino just inked an extension through 2022, and Louisville should be able to pluck an elite-level coach when he does decide to call it quits because of the support and ability to consistently compete for championships. 

Louisville was obviously concerned -- and rightfully so -- about the future of the Big East. The league has now lost six members to the ACC over the years, has added a half-dozen from Conference USA -- and also watched Rutgers leave last week to the Big Ten. Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich was aggressive in his pursuit of the ACC -- and the Cardinals edged out UConn and Cincinnati, two other Big East schools mentioned as possibilities to become the 14th member of the league. 

Rick Pitino told that he was ecstatic about the move and remained unclear when the Cardinals will officially enter the ACC. There is a $10 million exit fee and 27 months notice, but look for Louisville to negotiate an earlier withdrawal from the Big East, perhaps as soon as next year. 

"It's great for our program," he said. 

From a basketball-perspective, the move ensures that the ACC will be the strongest league in the nation while the Big East continues to struggle. With Duke, North Carolina, Louisville and Syracuse, that's four perennial Final Four contenders. The league has also added Pittsburgh, and Notre Dame for all sports except football. 

The Big East, on the other hand, may soon have a decision to make under new commissioner Mike Aresco. It will add Memphis, Temple, SMU, Houston, Central Florida next season for basketball and recently decided to add Tulane as well. 

"We're not finished," Mike Aresco said recently. "We obviously have some other plans for expansion." 

Or division. 

The basketball-only schools -- DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall and Villanova -- will soon have a decision to make. League members are getting plucked at a rapid pace and Aresco, who recently came over from CBS Sports, may not be able to hold it together with scotch tape for much longer. 

The ACC, on the other hand, could decide to add two more programs -- such as UConn or Cincinnati -- or sit tight for a while and see what else happens around the country. In the world of realignment, no one appears safe. 

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