NIT Season Tip-Off • Madison Square Garden, New York

First game: 6 p.m. Wednesday vs. St. John's • TV: ESPNU (1500-AM)

Second game: 3:30 or 6 p.m. Friday vs. Gonzaga/Georgia • ESPN2/ESPNU (1500-AM)

Gophers (3-1) at a glance: After three less-than-competitive games in one week, the Gophers are moving on to a tough three-game stretch away from home. The Gophers have won each of the past three games by at least 18 points after dropping the season opener vs. Louisville in Puerto Rico. Andre Hollins leads the team with 13.3 points per game, to go along with 3.5 assists and four rebounds per game, while fellow senior guard DeAndre Mathieu ranks fourth in the Big Ten in assists (5.8 per game) and second in steals (three per game). The Gophers, who hope to make defense their identity, rank first in the conference in both steals (12 per game) and turnover margin (+9.75). Minnesota's offense, however, has had a few off nights, shooting only 40 percent in the opener against Louisville and again vs. UMBC on Saturday. The Gophers have the second-worst free-throw percentage in the conference (56.7), having made only 51 of 90.

St. John's (3-0) at a glance: The guard-dominated Red Storm has shown early that coach Steve Lavin's signature athleticism and solid defense still makes it a tough opponent. St. John's lost a lot in the frontcourt from a squad that lost in the first round of the NIT a year ago, but managed to convince Chris Obekpa not to transfer, as the 6-10 junior forward/center had announced. The benefits of that decision are already being reaped; Obekpa has blocked 14 shots in three games. But the real stars of this team are in the backcourt, where senior D'Angelo Harrison, a 6-4 All-Big East selection and one of the nation's best guards, has already gotten off to a heck of a start, averaging 18.3 points and 10.3 rebounds a game. Sophomore Rysheed Jordan rejoins Harrison and, after a promising freshman season, looks primed to take another step.

Gonzaga (4-0) at a glance: Before the start of the season, coach Mark Few told media he thought this year's squad could be his best. So far, the Bulldogs — rife with experience, depth, size and offensive versatility one season after falling to Arizona in the NCAA tournament's round of 32 — are hinting he could be correct. Gonzaga ran over three of its first four opponents by at least 48 points, including last week's victory over St. Joseph's in which the Hawks were held to only 10 points in the first half, and moved up to No. 10 in the AP poll. Gonzaga has been strong on the offensive boards, rebounding 43 percent of its missed shots, and at stopping teams from getting inside, where the Gophers play best. Przemek Karnowski, a 7-1 center, and 6-10 Kentucky transfer Kyle Wiltjer make up one of the best frontcourts in the country. Six players are averaging in double digits, led by freshman Domantas Sabonis (14 points per game) off the bench.

Georgia (3-1) at a glance: At 6-8, senior forward Marcus Thornton gives the Bulldogs an interior defensive presence while leading the team in scoring (14 points per game) and rebounding (7.8). But post play could prove to be Georgia's weak spot once again after the dismissal of versatile forward Brandon Morris, one of the team's best defenders. Thankfully for coach Mark Fox, the Bulldogs, who lost in the second round of the NIT last year, still have a solid backcourt in place with a pair of juniors. The dynamic Kenny Gaines is capable of dunking, sinking three-pointers and making the scoreboard light up (and he's also leading the team in blocks). Athletic 6-5 point guard Charles Mann specializes in driving to the hoop. The fast-paced Bulldogs started the year with a letdown — a season-opening loss at Georgia Tech — and they haven't blown any teams out of the water since then.