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Tuesday Preview: Michigan State and Duke Highlight Big Night

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After a weekend of cupcakes, two Big Ten teams draw some serious non-conference competition.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The opening night of the season had Minnesota take on Louisville but outside of that there weren't any exciting matches throughout the first four days. That changes this Tuesday with Michigan State taking on Duke in the State Farms Champion Classic while Ohio State hosts Marquette in a rematch from last season. Also tipping off tonight are Nebraska and Minnesota, hosting a pair of mid-majors. For whatever reason neither game is on BTN, so you'll need ESPN3 (WatchESPN) to watch either game, while Michigan State will be on ESPN and Ohio State on ESPN2.

Game of the Night: Michigan State vs Duke (7 PM / ESPN)

The game of the night for the Big Ten will be between Michigan State and Duke in Indianapolis, tipping off the early game before Kentucky and Kansas face off afterwards. While Duke has absolutely demolished their early opponents, Michigan State sleepwalked their way to a slim 64-59 win over Navy. While Travis Trice blew up for 25 points, guard Denzel Valentine's 2 of 10 shooting night and 15 turnovers proved problematic. It was also a rough going for Cleveland State transfer Bryn Forbes, hitting only one of his eight shots over 27 minutes.

The double header tonight more or less replicates a potential Final Four in both atmosphere and competition. Duke has fared favorably against the Spartans under Coach K, winning eight of nine games, including their last matchup back in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Michigan State will be hoping that Duke's third game in five days might wear down the Blue Devils, but State will need to play better than they did in the opener if they want any chance whatsoever. The Blue Devils have a roster loaded with talent but a lot of it is inexperienced, with a handful of these guys playing in their first truly big game and the first away from Cameron Indoor Stadium.

If Michigan State can beat Duke it'll be their first win against the team since 2005. If that's going to happen the team will need better production from their starters, with the four starters not named Travis Trice only scoring a combined 23 points. Either way State is going to have their hands full and it wouldn't be the first time they lose a marquee early season game, though it should hopefully be an entertaining showcase either way. There's a laundry list of questions about Michigan State coming into the season and a lot of people likely gave them a pass thanks to having Tom Izzo as their coach, but tonight should be a pretty good indication of where the Spartans program is and where they'll need to improve.

Ohio State vs Marquette (7:30 PM / ESPN2)

This years first test for Ohio State is a rematch against Marquette, this time drawing the Golden Eagles at home after traveling to an apparent sauna last year. Hopefully for anyone watching tonight's game it'll be more exciting than last year, when Ohio State beat Marquette by a score of 52-35. The Buckeyes cruised in their opener, thanks to shooting 61.7%, and will look to add a quality win to their early season resume. There's a ton of fresh faces so this game could be a bit more interesting than if it was later in the season. D'Angelo Russell led the way with 16 points, though I'd imagine Thad Matta would prefer if the freshman doesn't shoot the ball 14 times tonight. Point guard Shannon Scott looked at ease running the offense, adding 11 of the teams assists as he eases into Aaron Crafts role. The Buckeyes were hit or miss last year, but there's plenty of talent here to improve this season. At the very least there's enough here that they should be capable of handling Marquette at home.

Nebraska vs Central Arkansas (8 PM / ESPN3)

The 21st ranked Cornhuskers will host Central Arkansas in their second game of the season. Nebraska took care of business in their season opener this weekend with a decent 80-61 win over Northern Kentucky. Leading the way was Terran Petteway, scoring 25 points in the opener and keeping pace with what he was doing last year. Chances are Petteway should primed for another big day offensively as Central Arkansas has given up an average of 102 points in their first two games, losing both by a combined 52 points to Creighton and Omaha.

Minnesota vs Western Kentucky (8 PM / ESPN3)

The Gophers were the lone team to lose on opening night, but that was to be expected as Minnesota also had the toughest opponent as they went up against Louisville. Thankfully tonight sees them drawing a considerably easier opponent, the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. The Conference USA opponent won their opener versus Austin Peay 77-70, but should have difficulty with a Minnesota program with considerably more talent across the board. Gopher standout Andre Hollins had a big day in the opener with 22 points, but Minnesota would probably like to see guard DeAndre Mathieu shoot more than four times most days. Another area Minnesota will need to improve on is turnovers as they committed 18 on Friday (compared to only 12 assists). That being said, a lot of the problems likely stemmed from their opponent and we should see Minnesota look better tonight on ESPN3 as they try to even out their record.