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Junior forward Mike Bruesewitz and the rest of the Wisconsin frontcourt have a hefty test ahead of them in the rebounding game as Michigan State averages 40 boards a night.[/media-credit]After grinding its way through a dozen arduous Big Ten games, the Wisconsin men’s basketball team has firsthand knowledge of the ebb and flow of one of the wildest conference seasons in recent memory.Back on Jan. 3, the Badgers hosted the Michigan State Spartans for their third game of the Big Ten season. The previous 10 matchups between the conference rivals had been fairly even, with Wisconsin having won six. After trailing by no more than five points in the second half, UW pushed MSU into overtime, where the game came right down to its final seconds.With Michigan State leading 63-60, Wisconsin forward Ryan Evans grabbed an offensive rebound near the basket, dribbled back to behind the three-point arc and hoisted up a prayer as the buzzer sounded. The shot banked in high off of the glass, sending the Badgers into a flurry of excitement in anticipation of a second overtime. Before long, however, officials overruled Evans’ shot, saying it came only after the clock hit zero.Thursday night, the No. 15 Badgers (19-6, 8-4) get a chance at redemption when they travel to the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich., to face the No. 7 Spartans (20-5, 9-3).“I wouldn’t say I took it personally, but it was just a frustrating moment for all of us,” Evans said of the first game against MSU. “But that game’s behind us, and we’re looking forward to this one. They got one in our house, so we want to go there and get one in theirs.”More than a month after their first meeting, Michigan State lies just a half-game out of first place in the Big Ten, while Wisconsin lies in fourth place but just one game behind the Spartans. The Badgers most recently escaped what would have been a harrowing loss, surrendering a 13-point second-half lead at Minnesota before escaping with a 68-61 win over the Gophers.UW’s victory prevented what would have been a two-game losing skid following a six-game winning streak that seemed to position the Badgers comfortably as March approaches. All together, Wisconsin has won seven of its last nine games.For another, the Badgers will draw on their past experiences on the road to survive the hostile atmosphere of the Breslin Center, where the Spartans have won 16 consecutive games.“Every place in the Big Ten is tough to play, so I guess we’re not looking at it as a harder test than a lot of the others,” point guard Jordan Taylor said. “We’ve won in some tough road environments this year – Purdue and Illinois, a lot of those places.”Against a familiar squad of Spartans, the Badgers expect few surprises Thursday night. Michigan State leads the Big Ten and ranks ninth in the country in rebounding with 40.0 per game, and much of the Spartan’s attack is fueled by the reigning Big Ten Player of the Week, forward Draymond Green. The 6-foot-7, 230-pound Green leads MSU with 15.0 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game and is widely considered a frontrunner for Big Ten Player of the Year honors.In the first game against Wisconsin, Green led all Michigan State players with 18 points and 14 rebounds. The Badgers’ frontcourt, mainly Evans and forward Mike Bruesewitz, paled in comparison, contributing a combined 15 points and eight rebounds.“I think I matched up with [Green] decently,” Evans said of that first MSU game. “He ended up getting the best of us obviously, but I don’t think he shot that great of a percentage. He made some things happen toward the end of the game at the free throw line, which affected us. That’s one I think I can definitely handle. I’m looking forward to getting out there and playing against him.”Indeed, Green was just 6-of-19 from the field. However, his 6-of-8 shooting from the free throw line was critical, as all of his attempts came in overtime.“We just did a really poor job of closing the game out,” Bruesewitz said. “When you play Michigan State, you’ve got to come guns blazing, full suit of armor, first aid kit – you’ve got to bring everything you can with them, because you know they’re going to go to the glass and they’re going to try to beat you up, out-physical you and out-tough you.“That’s just their mentality, that’s how coach [Tom] Izzo’s coached. We’ve got to have that edge, too. I don’t think it’s anything different than us; a lot of guys on this team have that edge, too.”The majority of Wisconsin’s leadership stems from Taylor, who leads the Badgers with 14.5 points and 4.2 assists per game. He’ll be tasked with ensuring UW’s offense maintains its rhythm while simultaneously locking down MSU’s backcourt trio of Keith Appling, Branden Dawson and Brandon Wood.But despite all the attention likely to be drawn by Taylor and his efforts on both sides of the ball, Wisconsin’s fate most likely rests within the roles Evans, Bruesewitz and forward/center Jared Berggren’s play in stifling Green and Michigan State’s frontcourt attack. Aside from their rebounding prowess, the Spartans are second behind Wisconsin in both scoring defense (allowing just 57.1 points per game) and opposing field goal percentage (37.4 percent).“I think they pride themselves on that,” Taylor said of Michigan State’s frontcourt. “They take a lot of pride in doing that, being a tough team, I guess. Then, it doesn’t hurt having the [behemoths] that they have inside with [Adreian] Payne, [Derrick] Nix – and Draymond is the smallest guy on the front line. That definitely doesn’t hurt, but I think they take a lot of pride in trying to beat teams up, especially at home.”Wisconsin-Michigan State tips off at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN and live online on ESPN3.