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Big Ten Thursday Preview and Open Thread: Can The Wisconsin Badgers Beat The Michigan State Spartans Again?

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The Badgers upset the Spartans, 77-76, on Jan. 17. Maryland will also play Minnesota in the other Big Ten matchup tonight.

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

We've got a great rematch to look forward to tonight, as Michigan State attempts to get revenge on Wisconsin for the one-point loss the Badgers handed the Spartans on Jan. 17. Before that one tips off, Maryland will try to get back in the win column in a game against struggling Minnesota.

Here's a look at both games.

Game of the Night: Wisconsin Badgers at No. 8 Michigan State Spartans (9:00 P.M. ET | ESPN)

The last time these two teams met on Jan. 17, neither was particularly hot. The Spartans had just been blown out by Iowa and the Badgers had lost three in a row. On that night, it was Wisconsin that would get the best of Michigan State, beating them 77-76 on a late basket by forward Ethan Happ.

Fast-forward a month later, and both teams are in pretty good positions. The Spartans bounced back from a tough overtime loss to Purdue last week by beating Indiana convincingly on Sunday, and the Badgers are riding a seven-game win streak that dates back to their win over Tom Izzo's crew.

Can Wisconsin do it again? There's no reason to think they can't. The Badgers are coming off an impressive 13-point win over Maryland and are playing their best basketball of the season. Players like Happ, Vitto Brown and Zak Showalter have been giving Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig much needed support on offense, while the Badgers have been playing terrific defense as a whole. Wisconsin has held five of its last six opponents under 70 points, and frustrated star Maryland point guard Melo Trimble in a 1-for-14 shooting performance on Saturday.

Now, they'll have another defensive challenge in Denzel Valentine. When the two teams met last, Valentine had recently returned from a knee injury but still shot 8-for-19 and scored 23 points on the afternoon. Valentine has looked terrific recently, averaging 24.5 points, 9.3 rebounds and 7.3 assists in the Spartans last four games. He's also been getting plenty of help from forward Matt Costello, who's scored in double digits the past four games and averaged 9.3 rebounds over that same span.

There will be plenty of fun individual matchups to watch in this one. Koenig and Valentine will face off at times, Costello will battle Happ and Brown for rebounds and Michigan State freshman Deyonta Davis will likely be tasked with slowing down Hayes. It came down to one possession last time, and it easily could again.

The Rest

-No. 6 Maryland Terrapins at Minnesota Golden Gophers (8:00 P.M. ET | BTN)

The Terrapins suffered a setback in losing by double-digits to Wisconsin on Saturday. To make matters worse, freshman center Diamond Stone was suspended one game for shoving Vitto Brown's head.

Fortunately for Maryland, its next opponent is Minnesota, which has yet to win a game in the Big Ten. If the Terrapins need an easy game to get themselves back on track, they certainly lucked out schedule-wise here.

Can the Gophers upset their top-ten foe? You can never say never, and Minnesota did just come five points away from beating Iowa on Sunday. So while Maryland can't afford to completely lose focus, it should be able to get a win here.