Well, it's about that time, I suppose. Every NCAA Tournament field is unique. We've never had the same group of 64, 65 or 68 teams -- ever -- and it will be decades before that ever happens. Year over year, there's always significant change. Earlier this offseason, we scanned the sport and determined these five teams would very likely crack back into the Big Dance in 2020 after missing the party in 2019.

So now comes the balance. It would be the coward's way out to only supply teams heading back and not acknowledge those who are likely to miss out. I've gotta Thanos-snap some teams out of existence for the 2020 tourney. Fortunately, I make no assurances; I could well be wrong on a couple of these squads. But with the season now just a week and a half away, here's a dozen teams from Major Seven conferences (ACC, the American, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC) I think will have an NIT-at-best ceiling for 2019-20. 

You'll notice I reference my 1-353 rankings in each team capsule. You're going to want to read through that, I promise. 

Virginia Tech 

Last season's seed: No. 4

1-353 rank: 104

Key nonconference opponents: vs. Michigan State (Nov. 25), vs. Georgia or Dayton (Nov. 26)

Mike Young's a hell of a coach, but taking the Hokies to get back after turning over so much of their roster, and losing Kerry Blackshear Jr. to Florida, is way too much to ask. Plus, Virginia Tech's nonconference schedule is horrendous, so even if it wins all but one or two games in the noncon, they'll mostly be Quad 4 and VT would need to finish top-eight in the ACC to have a case to make the NCAAs. No one outside campus limits at VT thinks this team is capable of finishing better than 10th in the ACC. Give Young a couple of years and he should have Virginia Tech near or at the peak it hit under Buzz Williams. 

Kansas State

Last season's seed: No. 4

1-353 rank: 46

Key nonconference opponents: Marquette (Dec. 7), vs. Mississippi State (Dec. 14), at Alabama (Jan. 25)

Another No. 4 seed that I think is set up for a big fall. But if I'm going to be wrong on any team on this list, it's going to be K-State. It's the highest ranked team in my 1-353 on this list, plus it returns two terrific players in Xavier Sneed and Cartier Diarra. It's been 12 years since Bruce Weber went to four consecutive NCAA Tournaments, which is what he'd pull off if the Wildcats danced again in five months. In the Big 12, which will be the second-best conference at worst this season, Kansas State is vulnerable to slipping back because Oklahoma State returns all five starters, Oklahoma's ceiling is fifth in the league, West Virginia is going to be a lot better and Iowa State could have the best point guard in the conference. I think KSU finishes seventh in the league -- and barely misses the Big Dance.  

Mississippi State

Last season's seed: No. 5

1-353 rank: 75

Key nonconference opponents: vs. Kansas State (Dec. 14), New Mexico State (Dec. 22), at Oklahoma (Jan. 25)

An underwhelming out-of-conference schedule combined with more than 45% of the roster having moved on makes me suspicious of Mississippi State's tournament chances. It was one of the more inconspicuous No. 5 seeds you could ever imagine last season, when it fell to -- wait, how about this -- can you correctly guess on the first try what team beat the Bulldogs in the tournament? Unless you're a fan of either team or had a lot personally invested in that game with your bracket or otherwise, the answer is almost certainly no. (It was Liberty.) Now the Bulldogs boast a rim-eating talent in Reggie Perry, but I suspect this won't be a top-five team in the SEC on offense or defense. 


Last season's seed: No. 5

1-353 rank: 52

Key nonconference opponents: Purdue (Nov. 13), vs. Davidson (Nov. 28), at Kansas State (Dec. 7)

The highest-ranked KenPom team on my list. For reasons I can't interpret without the aid of mind-altering substances, Marquette is 17th in Pomeroy's preseason rankings. The Golden Eagles lost two of their three best 3-point shooters (Sam and Joey Hauser), lost six of their final seven last season and landed at No. 33 in KenPom. They were waxed by Ja Morant and Murray State. Shooting aurora Markus Howard is back, there is some size around him in the starting lineup, but the Big East is going to be a lot better this season, so much so that I don't see Marquette finishing in the top half of the league.