I wrote over 2,000 words on the Gophers yesterday and they've already played Michigan State (previewed here and recapped here) so I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this post. Or at least that's the plan. I tend to over type sometimes so I'm not making any promises.
Since that game, Sparty has gone 7-1 with their lone loss on the road at Indiana (by 5). Actually looking at the entire body of work it's very possible Michigan State is underrated right now. Their four losses? @ Indiana, @ Minnesota, @ Miami, and vs. UCONN in the season opener in Germany in a game that should probably barely count. Add in that they're one of only two teams to beat Kansas and the Spartans are probably the third best team in the conference and one of the best in the country.
Good news for the Gophers is Travis Trice is out with an injury and he was a major pain in the Gophers side when they played in Minneapolis, and Gary Harris is questionable with a back issue and he's their second leading scorer. If neither play it will make Izzo's life tougher with just Keith Appling as a proven ball handler, and force him to use Denzel Valentine (a turnover machine) and/or an unproven player to help out and would certainly be helpful for Minnesota.
Despite the Gophers earlier victory over the Spartans, Michigan State is probably the better team and while the Gophers are struggling a bit, Michigan State seems to be moving in the right direction as Tom Izzo teams usually do. They also have the size and strength to negate the Gophers on the offensive boards, so for Minnesota to steal this one they'll have to take care of the ball and shoot well. I can see them doing one of these things well, but not both. That being said, I still believe the Gophers are one of the better teams in the country and their defense should keep this one close.
Michigan State 66, Minnesota 63.