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It’s 5 Minutes to Midnight

The clock is ticking.

NCAA Basketball: Central Arkansas at Indiana Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

March 16, 2017. The clock has struck midnight.

Time has run out. Tom Crean is gone.

March 27, 2017. The clock resets.

Archie Miller is in. A new era has begun. It’s seven minutes to midnight.

A ticking clock represents a sense of urgency. If not acted upon, a ticking clock will naturally wind down to zero. Or in this case, midnight.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists created the Doomsday Clock in 1947 to represent the increasingly prominent threat of nuclear war. Throughout the years, the clock has waxed and waned to signify the magnitude of the threat. It has never reached zero.

Indiana basketball’s clock is ticking. It’s moving ever so slowly, but it’s ticking. That’s life at a major college basketball program, and that’s the reality that Archie Miller stepped into when he took the job. It’s been that way for every coach. The clock strikes midnight and a new coach steps in to reset the clock.

Basketball is not life and death, no matter what some random message board commenter or Twitter troll may tell you. It is not akin to the threat of a global nuclear arms race, although that may seem analogous to recruiting. But for a program like Indiana that operates under a microscopic lens with a fanbase that is as reactionary as they come, basketball is something that is very, very important to a lot of people.

And for that reason, Archie Miller’s clock might be ticking faster than many would have anticipated.

March 1, 2018. Indiana’s season comes to an end at the hands of Rutger in the Big Ten Tournament.

Six minutes to midnight.

April 30, 2018. Romeo Langford is going to be a Hoosier.

Seven minutes to midnight. But the pressure is on.

Indiana entered this season with high expectations. They were not unreasonable, far-fetched expectations. A lot of people looked at this team and saw a roster that - despite its flaws - could be capable of making the NCAA Tournament and perhaps winning a game or two. The early season returns coincided with those thoughts.

A routing of a good Marquette team in the national spotlight. A comeback win over Louisville. Rob Phinisee etching his name into Hoosier lore with a game-winner against Butler in the Crossroads Classic. The Hoosiers are rolling.

It’s eight minutes to midnight.

Big Ten play is when you truly learn the identity of a team. And right now, this Indiana team is not good. The NCAA Tournament is still in play. As of now, the Hoosiers are in comfortably. But for how long?

A loss at the hands of a Michigan team that might be the best in the country is nothing to scoff. However, a loss that highlights some of the team’s biggest weaknesses like a heavy dependency on two players and a stagnant offense brings reason for concern.

It’s back to seven minutes to midnight.

The Hoosiers raced out to a lead on the road against a good Maryland team. A second half collapse that featured porous defense and a glaring lack of depth adds another blemish to a team that all of a sudden is in the midst of a spiral.

Look at the clock. It’s six minutes to midnight.

Let’s step on Hell’s Treadmill. You didn’t think it would happen this fast did you? Indiana is now getting blown out on its home floor by Nebraska basketball. I don’t care how “good” Nebraska is this year. That is not something that should happen.

The boos rained down on the Hoosiers Monday night. The crowd left early. Assembly Hall - which is as tough of an environment in the Big Ten as any - lacked any energy. I guess it takes after its basketball team on the floor.

The threat is ramping up. This team needs a jolt, and quick. Danger lurks. When you start to lose the fanbase, the clock ticks faster and faster as midnight approaches. The honeymoon will be cut short.

There is no time to waste righting the ship. With four of the next five games on the road, this season is in danger of spiraling out of control.

Overall, the trajectory is positive. But that can change quickly. It’s not time to hit the panic button yet. But it’s pertinent that things turn around sooner than later. Midnight approaches.

After Monday night, it’s five minutes to midnight. And the clock is starting to tick.