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Michigan State

Michigan St.-Minnesota Preview 12-31-12

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(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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(AP) — The Big Ten widely is considered the premier conference in the nation, with No. 11 Minnesota and No. 19 Michigan State among the league’s six ranked teams.

Both squads anticipate Monday’s meeting in Minneapolis being the first of many tough contests as conference play begins.

Michigan (No. 2), Indiana (5), Ohio State (10) and Illinois (12) are the other Big Ten teams ranked in the top 20, but Minnesota and defending league co-champion Michigan State plan on making their own noise in a seemingly wide-open league.

Tubby Smith, 3-15 all-time versus the Spartans, may have his best team in his six seasons coaching the Gophers (12-1), who have won eight straight since suffering their only loss to now-No. 1 Duke in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament Nov. 22.

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