I have written on many occasions about the “Rule of 60” or the “Magic of 60” in following Indiana University basketball through the years. Looking back on the beginning of last season, I thought that the Bobby Knight magic might have been reincarnated with the hiring of Coach Mike Woodson. Defense was once again a priority as I reread Post #1950 and expectations were high. They have now sunk to a new low after Penn State’s record 18 3-pointers. Two more and they would have gotten sixty-points from solely beyond the arc. 

The first to 60 usually wins, was my magical formula for victory, dating back to a McDonald’s promotion when I was in college. It was a simple challenge – hold the opponent under 60 and you win free food. This was before the 3-point shot was ever a factor, but I still find that 60 rules! It remains a magical mark in college basketball, but not of late for Indiana. It worked in their only Big Ten victory so far this season against Nebraska with the score 62-41 with 9:23 remaining in the game. It also took a historical triple-double from Trayce Jackson-Davis. Only Steve Downing in 1971 and Juwan Morgan in 2018 had achieved this feat. 

The Hoosiers then almost pulled out a victory against Arizona after trailing by 19 early but narrowed the gap to only 59-56 before the bottom fell out. TJD was showing signs of back problems and did not play the next two games against Elon or Kennisaw State, but the worst was yet to come. Kansas easily got to 60 first, leading 60-42 at the 11:35 mark after the porous Hoosier defense gave up 44 in the first half. Xaviar Johnson suffered a broken foot in this 23-turnover disaster. Kennisaw State hit their first 5-3’s and surprisingly matched the short-staffed Hoosiers through the first half only to fall 69-55. 

After the New Year, with Jackson-Davis back in the lineup against Iowa, Race Thompson went down with a knee injury while the Hoosiers raced to an impressive 21-point road lead. The Hawkeyes battled back to make it 59-58 with 12:40 remaining and took their first lead a minute later at 61-58. IU did get to 60 first but after squandering such a big lead the “Rule of 60” did not hold up and Iowa prevailed 91-89. Northwestern then easily beat us to 60 at home with 41-points in the first half and an 84-83 upset despite 33 from Jalen Hood-Schifino. That brings us up to the 85-66 debacle at Penn State, our largest loss margin against the Nittany Lions in history.

Here we stand at 1-4 in the BIG with pre-season expectations of a championship long unrealized. Wisconsin is next to come to Bloomington with a 5-game winning streak and 9-1 record over the hapless Hoosiers in recent match-ups. It gets even worse if you go back to 2010 with the Badgers dominating 20-3. It does not look promising for the hobbled Cream and Crimson, especially after already proving that they are vulnerable even at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. It will take a lot of magic to win this game and right the sinking ship. 

Giving up on average nearly 70-points a game, IU defense is far from magical. #1 Houston gives up only 52.9-ppg. Keeping your opponent under 60, among other factors, is what it takes to be a top contender. Sadly, at least so far, it’s the death of 60 for this year’s Hoosiers.