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Nebraska 66, Indiana 51: Hell’s Treadmill

Nebraska is 6-4 against Indiana since joining the Big Ten. Do not bother eating the almonds.

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Indiana Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
  1. There’s a particular point where the senses mute. The third mile looks like the tenth, which looks like the eighty-second, which looks like the, uh, seven-hundred and seventeenth. Did you run that many miles? Perhaps. There is no concept of time, nor space, here. You will run, and you will keep running over the edge of the Earth and beyond. Don’t fear exhaustion, there will be no ill-effects, you can’t die if you’re not alive anyway.
  2. Indiana played a basketball game tonight, on some planet, in some city-state, in some year. A cursory glance says it was against “Nebraska” but it could’ve been against “Syracuse” or “Pepperdine” or “Eastern Washington.” The details are not important. There is no footage from this game. There is only this tweet.

3. There’s something dystopian in a treadmill itself, but is torment itself comes from whatever kakotopia in which you choose to place it. The miles seem shorter from a beachside La Quinta fitness lounge or whatever Coronesque Find-Your-Beach bullshit you envision. The miles become longer in your poorly-furnished apartment fitness center, longer in a mop closet, longer at wherever else is worse than that. Longer until the treadmill is in Hell’s warm foyer as Lucifer looks on, pleased nibbling on unsalted almonds and laughing at your expense.

4. Nebraska is now 6-4 against Indiana since entering the Big Ten. Yes, that Nebraska — the state one, with Ben Sasse and third-rate baseball and whatever other shit Nebraska has. The Nebraska that has never won an NCAA Tournament game, the Nebraska where Danny Nee and Barry Collier and Doc Sadler toiled in an somewhere-adjacent purgatory for years. The Nebraska where store-brand Tom Crean is taking a junior-college band of mercenaries into Bloomington and winning on a regular basis.

5. Don’t worry, you live here now. Allow the warmth to melt the unease from your bones, let the relief of acceptance wash over you. Your equilibrium will at some point readjust, and you’ll find meaning in some other trivial sideshow to distract you from the miles. The almonds, yes, the almonds. Dodge the almonds. One, two, three. You find joy in this now. Lean into it. It is good.

6. Archie Miller is in his second season at Indiana. It is what it would be. The defense is improved, the offense does in fact exist. It is there, you can see it, there are individuals in red and white jerseys performing those duties as they are defined. There are sets, there is movement, there is shooting. None of it is particularly good or reliable or consistent or modern in the way it needs to be to win postseason college basketball games. Or regular season ones, for that matter. It is Archie Miller’s second season, and it would be unfair to call his offensive philosophy irreparably diseased. It would be out-of-line to call Scoring Nine Points In Sixteen Minutes on Tim Fucking Miles a symptom of that disease. None of that would be true. Right? Right.

7. There’s no need to be hungry in hell, you might as well make the best of it. The body needs fuel to run, and you’re going to be doing this for eternity. Healthy fats are good for you and there’s nothing else to take joy in here. Be rational. The five-second-rule needn’t apply when you now live inside a broiler.

8. This is Archie Miller’s second season, he has coached 40 games at Indiana. The roster contains Indiana’s version of the Aggro-Crag, an All-American, a possibly-good point guard, a few hurt dudes, and some leftover scrap parts to a 1994 S-10. That combination does not make for a bad college basketball team in 2019, but it certainly doesn’t lend toward a good one, either. Things will probably not get better this year, as this is a basketball team that can’t score reliably, consistently, and repeatably. It also doesn’t need to get that much better, because college basketball is bad. Everyone sucks. Indiana’s not good, but they’re good enough to get an 8-seed in a crapshoot tournament. If regular season championships mattered more than entries into that whole thing, we’d just be on another part of the treadmill with a different, noticeably-tanner face to get mad at.

9. But, you don’t need to eat. What is already dead can’t die, there’s no need to provide nourishment. You’ll be on this treadmill forever, until your legs give out — at which point some large hand will pick you up and slam you back down into the rotating belt over and over until you choose to stand up and run again. Let the rubber-burn and delusions wash over you like a warm bath. You’re here now, nothing can hurt you.


Indiana plays “Purdue” at some place at some time on “Saturday.”