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Gophers have a lot on the line tonight against Nebraska

Minnesota can relieve a lot of stress by beating Nebraska Thursday night.
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Wednesday's results proved to be critical in Minnesota's push for a top four seed in the upcoming conference tournament.

With a loss to Illinois, Michigan State fell to 10-7 in Big Ten play while Northwestern improved to 10-7 with a crazy buzzer-beater over Michigan. Sitting just ahead of them are the 10-6 Gophers, who can claim at least a share of fourth place with a win over Nebraska Thursday night. A loss will make things wildly interesting entering the final regular season weekend.

The top four seeds in the Big Ten receive a double bye into the quarterfinal round of the conference tourney.

The best the Gophers can finish is 12-6. The worst they can finish is 10-8. The best Michigan State and Northwestern can finish is 11-7.

If the Gophers take care of business at home Thursday night and Maryland beats Michigan State on Saturday, Minnesota can rest easy going into Sunday's game at Wisconsin knowing they'll be a top four seed in next week's conference tourney.

If Minnesota and Michigan State finish with the same record, the Spartans get the higher seed in the Big Ten Tournament because they beat the Gophers twice in the regular season. The Gophers own the tiebreaker over Northwestern, meaning the worst Minnesota can finish is fifth.

Saturday: Michigan State at Maryland

Sunday: Northwestern vs. Purdue, Minnesota at Wisconsin

Minnesota is also playing for NCAA Tournament seeding. They're a 5-seed in Thursday's fresh bracketology from CBS Sports and USA Today, and up to a 6-seed at ESPN.com.

The play. #B1GCats | #PoundTheRockhttps://t.co/she49TTdyl

— NU Men's Basketball (@NUMensBball) March 2, 2017

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