Saturday's ACC play underlined just how intensely competitive the ACC is this season.
For older ACC fans, meaning fans who pulled for ACC teams before expansion, Syracuse's first trip to Clemson was an occasion to marvel, knowing what awaited the Orange in Littlejohn.
Clemson is a mediocre basketball school at best with minimal history. Play them on the road and the Tigers look declawed. Catch them at home though, and the fans can forcefeed life into the team and turn Littlejohn into one of America's great Tiger pits (sorry).
As we figured, Syracuse learned the hard way.
The final score was 66-53, but it wasn't nearly that close: with 5:22 left the score was 52-38.
Syracuse didn't score again until Trevor Cooney hit a free throw with 3:51 left.
Syracuse scored 15 points in the last 3:51 but that doesn't masquerade what happened, which was a whipping.
NC State's game was somewhat similar though FSU made an effective comeback before losing.
State had a 12 point halftime lead; with 8:34 left, Florida State had cut that lead to three and tied it with 4:00 left.
Trevor Lacey did well in clutch time: the Alabama transfer hit a pair of free throws and a jumper down the stretch. Toss in a foul shot and a dunk by Cody Martin and the Pack got 'er done, winning 72-63.
We've developed a lot of respect for Mark Gottfried's coaching acumen and once again, he's got State in position to compete with the ACC's finest.
Miami pushed Notre Dame but the Irish, who fell behind by as much as 11 in the second half, pushed back.
The Irish got Zach Auguste back and barely used him; the big man logged just nine minutes.
Miami gave Notre Dame fits, but Notre Dame took the lead at the 9:08 mark and kept it.
Nonetheless, like State, Miami has served notice: this is a team that competes.
Even BC, generally picked for last place, showed up and took it to Virginia for most of the game before UVa turned up the defense late and shut BC down.
Still, the Eagles were in the game until the last 5:00 or so.
Poor Georgia Tech: the Yellow Jackets have played hard and been right there in every ACC game - and lost them all.
Pitt continued the trend Saturday: after abandoning the zone late, the Panthers shut down Georgia Tech for five minutes to win by five, 70-65.
Tech had 15 turnovers, including some very costly ones.
So let's be clear on what happened Saturday: a Top ten matchup was the least competitive game of the day. Those two teams are currently tied for fifth place in the ACC.
The second-to-last place team in the league gave the #2 team in the country all it wanted before Virginia pulled away.
The #12 team in the country had trouble with a team that has almost an entirely new roster, while Syracuse, long among the nation's elite, went to Clemson and had it's head handed to it.
You can talk about any league in the country, but that kind of intensity, that kind of top-to-bottom toughness, is only found in one place: the ACC.