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12/28 Big Ten Preview: Minnesota Hosting Reeling Michigan State

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Minnesota Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

There’s two Big Ten games tonight with Minnesota set to host Michigan State and Wisconsin hosting Maryland.

Game of the Night

#12 Michigan State Spartans at Minnesota Golden Gophers

  • Time/TV: 8:00 PM ET (BTN)

Michigan State was looking to roll once again in the Big Ten before a surprise loss at Northwestern followed by a home loss to Wisconsin. Now they have to travel to face a Minnesota team that just beat a top five Iowa squad.

Fortunately for them I doubt Brandon Johnson will replicate what he did against Iowa, shooting 8 of 9 from three and absolutely exploding in overtime. Between Johnson and Marcus Carr the duo hit 14 of 22 three pointers. Mix that with holding Iowa to 37.2% shooting and the Hawkeyes going cold at the line at the end of regulation and Minnesota was able to land a massive upset. They’ll hope to do the same against the Spartans. If they’re going to do so they might want to not give up 27 offensive rebounds like they did against Iowa, though.

The Spartans actually shot 72.7% from three (11 attempts) and 87.5% from the line in their loss to Wisconsin. However, they committed twice the number of turnovers and got into foul trouble, giving Wisconsin a 30-16 free throw advantage. If Michigan State can limit fouls and cut back on turnovers they have the talent to get past a Minnesota team that is flying high. Joey Hauser is coming off of a big day, scoring 27 points on 7 of 9 shooting. Tom Izzo will need more from his backcourt, though, as Rocket Watts and Joshua Langford shot 5 of 18 against the Badgers.

Minnesota hasn’t shot the ball particularly well this season besides their win over Iowa, currently ranked 227th in field goal percentage and 223rd in three point percentage. They are first in the country in free throw attempts and makes, however. They’ll need to get to the line and continue some of that offensive success they had against Iowa if they want to improve to 9-1.

The Spartans are looking for their sixth straight win against the Gophers and will be trying to avoid a third straight conference loss. Look for Izzo’s team to bounce back and pick up a much needed W.

Pick: Michigan State

Maryland Terrapins at #9 Wisconsin Badgers

  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET (FS1)

The first game tonight sees Maryland traveling to take on Wisconsin in Madison. Tonight is a game the Terps really could use after a failed comeback attempt at Purdue on Christmas. Maryland is now 1-3 (0-2 in conference) over the last four games and with Michigan, Indiana and Iowa all following tonight, there’s very little margin for error. It’s still early but if Maryland can’t land a few upsets they might dig themselves into a deep enough hole they won’t be able to climb out of.

Wisconsin has only lost once this season and got a big win on Christmas when they went into East Lansing and knocked off Michigan State. The Badgers look to once again contend for a Big Ten title and the next two weeks offer a somewhat softer slate of games (especially compared to Maryland). With four players averaging double figures and only committing 8.3 turnovers per game, the Badgers have been a well rounded offensive unit that limits mistakes. With four starters averaging better than 40% from three, the Badgers have also been shooting effectively early this season.

In Maryland’s loss to Purdue the Terrapins got off to a slow start before trying to make a second half comeback. One of the key reasons they couldn’t sneak out with a win was the team shot 10 of 21 from the free throw line, something that has plagued the team this year (68.7% on the year). Maryland is young and when facing better defensive teams have struggled to consistently score the ball. Heading into Madison to face a stifling Wisconsin team and it’s safe to say that’s a problem.

Maryland has the talent to compete, but Wisconsin is too tough at home and has the advantage on both sides of the ball. Things won’t get any better for the Terps tonight.

Pick: Wisconsin