Opponent Preview: North Dakota State

The Gophers will have a border battle with the North Dakota State Bison on Wednesday at Williams Arena. Minnesota will enter the game confident after a 5-0 start and a top-25 ranking but could be a tested by a feisty Bison squad.

No. 15 Minnesota (5-0) vs. North Dakota State (3-1)
Minneapolis, Minn. -- Williams Arena
7:00 p.m. -- ESPN3

PREGAME NOTES

Game Outlook: Minnesota is coming off a pair of huge wins over against West Virginia and North Carolina to take home the Puerto Rico Tip-Off title. The Gophers had great play from tournament Most Valuable Player and Big Ten Co-Player of the week Trevor Mbakwe. Mbakwe dominated the tournament, scoring 16 points and snagging seven boards in the championship against WVU and netting 12 points and pulling down nine rebounds against eighth ranked UNC.

The Gophers also got floor leadership from Al Nolen. Statistically Nolen was just average until the game against the Mountaineers where he scored 17 points including 11 for 12 from the free throw line. Nolen easily penetrated the defense to get near the hoop and drew fouls. Expect another big game from Nolen against the Bison.

While fans might overlook NDSU as an easy victory, the Gophers would be wise to take the game seriously. In their first game of the season the Bison took Oregon to overtime, eventually losing 97-92. NDSU has won their last three games including wins over Denver and UC Santa Barbara and a 103-63 thumping of Mayville State on Saturday. The Gophers will need to keep an eye on Michael Tveidt who is averaging an impressive 16.5 points per game including 27 against Oregon.

Season to Date: The Bison are off to a great start with three wins and one loss to Oregon in Eugene. In their three wins NDSU is outscoring their opponents by an average of 19.7 points per game. Their offensive attack will be put to the test against the stingy Gopher defense.

Coaching Preview: NDSU's head coach is Saul Phillips who is in his fourth year on the job. In his previous three seasons Phillips has gone 53-38 including a Summit League and an NCAA tourney appearance in 2009. Phillips will look to make a statement against the more talented Gophers on Wednesday.

Random Fact: The Bison roster boasts eight Minnesota natives. Fred Newell (Lakeville), Mike Felt (Redwood Falls), Freddy Coleman (St. Paul), Drew Lunberg (Owatonna), Dylan Hale (St. Paul), Eric Carlson (Shakopee), Marshall Bjorklund (Arlington), and Jordan Aaberg (Rothsay) will be returning to their home state to take on the Gophers.

Series History: The Gophers lead the series 24-1 in games that date back to 1900-1901. Minnesota is also 25-4 against teams from the Summit League. Tubby Smith has also been dominant against these teams going 2-0 against NDSU and 12-0 when playing the rest of the Summit League.

Projected Starters:
12 Drew Lunberg (6-1, 190, Jr.) – 8.3 ppg, 2.0 rpg
04 Freddy Coleman (6-3, 225 Sr.) – 6.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg
42 Marshall Bjorklund (6-8, 230, Fr.) – 9.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg
25 Eric Carlson (6-6, 220, Jr.) – 13.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg
25 Michael Tveidt (6-7, 210, Sr.) – 16.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg

Background:
Location: Fargo, North Dakota
Enrollment: 14,407
Conference: Summit League
Nickname: Bison
Colors: Yellow and Green
Head Coach: Saul Phillips (53-38)
2009-2010 Record: 11-18


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