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Big Ten Wednesday Preview and Open Thread: Michigan Wolverines Looks to Right the Ship

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The Wolverines could get their leading scorer back for a game at Minnesota, while the Cornhuskers will be without a top scorer for a game at Wisconsin.

In the first game this season between the two, Michigan defeated Minnesota 74-69 in Ann Arbor.
In the first game this season between the two, Michigan defeated Minnesota 74-69 in Ann Arbor.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

On paper, neither of tonight's Big Ten matchups are as juicy as that Purdue-Michigan State overtime contest turned out to be last night, but all four teams in action will be motivated to pick up a victory. Nebraska heads to Wisconsin in a virtual must-win contest for the NCAA Tournament hopes of both teams. In the nightcap, Minnesota hopes to finally break through for their first conference win against a Michigan team who has no interest in entering the tournament bubble conversation.

Game of the Night: Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Michigan Wolverines (9 PM ET | BTN)

John Beilein's team was unable to add another solid win to their resume over the past week, instead suffering a pair of double-digit losses at home to Indiana and Michigan State. Looking to get back in the winning column, the Wolverines will head to Williams Arena to take on the Gophers. Michigan has fared well at the Barn in recent seasons, emerging victorious in their last five games in Minneapolis.

Minnesota played Michigan reasonably tough at Crisler Arena earlier this season but is still looking for its first Big Ten win of the season. A large mass of cold air has engulfed the Upper Midwest and the Gophers have been ice-cold at shooting the basketball in the conference portion of the schedule, checking in at 12th in Big Ten play in both effective field goal percentage and free-throw percentage.

The Wolverines might receive a boost from the return of their leading scorer from injury. Senior guard Caris LeVert has missed the last ten games with a leg injury and it could be a game-time decision on whether or not he makes his return tonight. If he does return, he'll have to be a bit extra careful considering the raised nature of the basketball court at the Barn.

The Rest:

-Wisconsin Badgers vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers (7 PM ET | BTN)

Wisconsin is the team that enters this game on a five-game winning streak but Nebraska enters with the most impressive victory of the two, a 72-71 win over the Spartans in East Lansing on January 20th. Tonight the Huskers will be without the guy who scored 28 points in that win, as head coach Tim Miles announced that senior forward Shavon Shields will not make the trip to Madison as he recovers from a concussion suffered in a scary fall Saturday vs. Rutgers.

Wisconsin's remaining schedule includes road games at Maryland, Michigan State, Iowa, and Purdue, so any losses suffered outside of those four games could be devastating to their tournament resume. For Nebraska to fly home tonight with their first-ever win at the Kohl Center under their belt, the Cornhuskers will need to figure out how to attack an improving Badger defense without Shields. In seven games vs. Wisconsin since joining the conference, Nebraska has averaged only 51.3 points per game against the deliberate Badgers.