Drive safe tonight, folks.

The No. 15 Gophers (5-0) will face North Dakota State (3-1) on Thanksgiving Eve. I expect a small crowd, considering the weather and the holiday. Then again, this is Minnesota. Folks will ski to the game if they have to.

Here are five questions to consider for the Wednesday night matchup.

Will the game be televised? 

Nope. But you can see it on ESPN3.com. Check with your Internet provider to see if you have it. If you have Comcast, you have it. Other suppliers offer the service, too.

Will the Gophers struggle to find motivation against the Bison? 

Better not. Just ask Chaminade. The Division II squad gave Michigan State a tough fight before beating Oklahoma Tuesday.

Scary game for a team coming off a string of big wins. But the Gophers have veterans who will make sure they're ready to go against North Dakota State.

The Bison have eight Minnesota natives. Remember what happened when Winona State's Minnesota guys came to town? The Gophers want to avoid another unexpected back-and-forth matchup.

Should be an easy game, doesn't mean it will be.

Is everyone healthy? 

Nope. Tubby Smith said Blake Hoffarber turned his ankle toward the end of Tuesday's practice. As a precaution, the Gophers are expected to limit Hoffarber's minutes against North Dakota State, a source close to the team said.

Hoffarber has had ankle problems in the past. And if you've ever tweaked an ankle, you know that it's an injury that can linger.

We'll see if this becomes a more serious issue for the Gophers. But the fact that he's playing is a good sign that the Gophers aren't too worried. He's also expected to start.

How can I get to the game safely? 

Slow down, among other things, according to weather.com. Check out their FAQ on driving in icy conditions. Seriously.

What's this program's ceiling? 

It's too early to decide. But the Gophers have a lot of potential. They're deep and talented up front. They have a veteran backcourt. As a team, they're tough defensively. Their young guys contribute. And they haven't buckled under pressure. So if they continue playing this way, they will enter Big Ten play as serious contenders.

But it's a long season.

Prediction: Gophers 89, North Dakota State 68 (I'm 5-0 this season)

 

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