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Big Ten Wednesday Preview and Open Thread: Red Hot Wisconsin Badgers and Michigan State Spartans Hit the Road

No two teams in the Big Ten have been hotter than Wisconsin and Michigan State. The Spartans are in contention for a top seed in the NCAA Tournament and the Badgers appear to have secured their ticket to the Big Dance. Both squads hit the road Wednesday to face an opponent from the bottom of the conference standings.

Joey King and the Gophers would extend their home winning streak to three with a win over Wisconsin.
Joey King and the Gophers would extend their home winning streak to three with a win over Wisconsin.
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Last night, the Indiana Hoosiers decided that they had no interest in sharing the Big Ten regular season title and played their Super Tuesday trump card by defeating the Iowa Hawkeyes on the road to secure their program's 22nd conference title. Iowa mounted a frenzied comeback late in the game but was unable to finish it off, which means that there will be less drama for tonight's games involving Wisconsin and Michigan State.

The Badgers and Spartans' hopes of sharing the regular season title were mathematically dashed, and tonight the two teams will instead have to rely on the motivation of improving their seeds for the Big Ten Tournament as well as the NCAA Tournament.

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

Richard Pitino's team enters tonight's matchup with wins in two of their last three games, but the Gophers find themselves face-to-face with another dose of adversity after Pitino announced Tuesday that guards Kevin Dorsey, Nate Mason, and Dupree McBrayer will remain suspended for the remainder of the season. The official reasons for these suspensions were not announced, but speculation is that they are related to x-rated videos Dorsey posted on Twitter and quickly deleted last Friday.

Minnesota will forge ahead with only six scholarship players, which could prove problematic with the white-hot Wisconsin Badgers in town. Greg Gard's team has won 10 of its last 11 games and he appears to be on the verge of being officially announced as the permanent successor to Bo Ryan. Nearly every player in Wisconsin's rotation is playing at a high level right now and a win tonight at Williams Arena would clinch yet another- yes, you guessed it- top-4 conference finish.

It will be senior night for Minnesota's Joey King, and he may need to deliver the senior night performance of a generation for the Gophers to emerge victorious over their rivals to the east. Freshman forward Jordan Murphy has also been a bright spot for Minnesota (11.8 points, 8.1 rebounds) and he will need to step up with leading scorer Mason done for the year.

The Rest:

- Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. #2 Michigan State Spartans (7 PM ET | BTN)

Last year, Rutgers defeated one of the eventual NCAA Tournament finalists at home, so if Michigan State believes in superstition it may be wise to tank this game in Piscataway. Barring that plan of action, it's hard to imagine one of the worst Big Ten teams in recent history procuring an upset against what may be the best team in the country. Michigan State has been dismembering their fellow Big Ten clubs over the past month. They've won eight of their last nine games and six of those wins were by more than 15 points.

Looking ahead for Michigan State, they finish their regular season on Saturday hosting bubble team Ohio State. Grabbing a 1-seed in March Madness is certainly possible as long as they keep winning and reach the conference tournament title game. That will be easier said than done as the Spartans likely will face two tough teams in Indianapolis just to get the championship, but they will find themselves in great shape if they continue playing basketball at this high level.