That's not to say they are a cupcake, at least not completely. They come in at 3-1 with wins over a good Big West team in UC-Santa Barbara and a so-so Sunbelt team in Denver, and took Oregon into overtime before losing, so they aren't exactly going to roll over and die.
The Bison's top player is returning leading scorer is Michael Tveidt, a 6-7 combo forward who was a key contributor on that good NDSU team. He's averaging 16 points per game so far this year and lit up Oregon for 27. After struggling with his three-point shot last year and hitting at just a 30% clip, he's been of fire so far this season going 10-15 from behind the line. That's something that is going to be a concern for the Gophers, because it's not just Tveidt - the entire team shoots 53% from three-point land, good enough for #1 in the nation. They don't chuck threes in high-volume, but they're great when they do - every player with a three-point attempt on the season is shooting at least 40%.
A couple of big weak spots are going to play into the Gophers' hands, however. First, the Bison don't have the size to compete with the Gophers dominating front line. Only one contributor to the team is taller than 6-7: 6-8 freshman Marshall Bjorklund, and most of their other size comes from tall but skinny wing players. The only other real post presence they is the 6-6, 220 lb. Eric Carlson, a junior power forward who averages 13 points and 6 rebounds a game and who ESPN describes as "playing bigger than he is." That sounds great and all, but I still have no idea how they're going to deal with Mbakwe, Sampson, and Iverson, and the Gophers should absolutely feast in the paint and on the offensive glass, and NDSU has been terrible keeping opponents off the boards (209th in the country in allowing opposing offensive rebounds) and blocking shots (332nd in the country). All this points to a dominating performance inside for Minnesota.
Even if the Bison figure out a way to keep the Gophers away from the paint, they will need to take care of the ball against the swarming Minnesota defense, something they've struggled with this year. They've turned the ball over on 21.4% of their possessions so far this season, ranking them 188th in the country, and that has been against teams that rank 210th (Oregon), 39th (UCSB), and 200th (Denver) in creating turnovers, as well as a D-II school (Mayville State). Bad news for the Bison, because Minnesota ranks 99th and they've played five quality opponents. With no experience at point guard and a team assist-to-turnover ratio of 1-to-1, I would be shocked if NDSU held their turnovers under 20 in this game, which will lead to even more easy buckets for the Gophers.
The difference in talent levels here is huge between these two teams, and if that's not enough the Bison weaknesses play right into the Gophers' hands. This one isn't going to be close.
Minnesota 88, NDSU 60.