Minnesota Vs. Michigan State Game Preview: Golden Gophers Face A Must Win Against Big 10 Leading Spartans

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10: Head coach Tubby Smith of the Minnesota Golden Gophers reacts as he coaches against the Northwestern Wildcats during the first round of the 2011 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 10, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The Minnesota Golden Gophers look to end No. 6 Michigan State's five-game winning streak.

The Minnesota Golden Gophers host No. 6 Michigan State at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday night in what is essentially a must-win game for Tubby Smith's crew. Minnesota has dropped its last three conference games and now sits at 5-9 in Big 10 play.

With four conference games remaining (Michigan State, Indiana, @Wisconsin, Nebraska), the Golden Gophers likely need to win out and get to .500 in league play to have a legitimate chance at earning an at-large bid to the Big Dance. According to ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi, Minnesota is on the outside looking in:

Minnesota [17-10 (5-9), RPI: 69, SOS: 63] Minnesota's next two games are at home. The opponents are Michigan State and Indiana. After Saturday's loss to Northwestern -- and an RPI drop to No. 69 -- the Gophers desperately need to turn one, if not both, of those upcoming fixtures into wins. If they don't, they're as good as done. Everything else about this profile (especially that 200-ish nonconference strength of schedule record) is too mediocre to think otherwise.

Minnesota lost to Michigan State earlier in the season by 16 points in East Lansing. The Spartans are winners of five consecutive games and ranked atop the Big 10 Standings with a conference record of 11-3.

For more on the Minnesota Golden Gophers, check out The Daily Gopher. For all news and information on the Michigan State Spartans, check out The Only Colors or SB Nation Detroit. You can also learn more about college basketball around the nation at SB Nation's College Basketball hub.

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