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Michigan State vs. Minnesota: Top 20 teams kick-off the Big Ten season

No. 19 Michigan State and No. 11 Minnesota begin Big Ten conference play as the two teams square-off at the Barn.

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

No. 19 Michigan State and No. 11 Minnesota kick-off Big Ten conference play on Monday as the two top 20 teams meet in Williams Arena in Minneapolis, Minn.

Michigan State enters Monday's contest with an 11-2 non-conference record. After slipping out of the gate against UConn, the Spartans rebounded nicely with an impressive win against the Kansas Jayhawks. Their second loss came against Miami (FL) in the annual Big Ten-ACC Challenge.

Junior guard Keith Appling leads the young Spartans offense, averaging 14.9 points and 4.1 assists per game. Also contributing is freshman Gary Harris and sophomore Branden Dawson, who average 12.4 points and 9.8 points per game, respectively. On the inside, Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne anchor the Spartans offense, each grabbing more than seven rebounds per contest.

Minnesota is knocking on the door of a top ten national ranking after being reinvigorated by the return of senior Trevor Mbakwe, who missed almost all last season with a torn ACL. Mbakwe and the Gophers went 12-1 in con-conference play, with their only loss coming to top-ranked Duke. Senior forward Rodney Williams leads Minnesota in scoring with 13.0 points per game.

Date: December 31, 2012

Time: 2:00 p.m. ET