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The Basketball Tournament 2017 preview: Ram Nation

The VCU alumni team enters as one of the favorites to take home the $2 million prize

SF Austin v VCU Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Ram Nation, a team comprised primarily of VCU alumni, is back in The Basketball Tournament for the second consecutive year.

This year’s roster features some familiar faces from last year’s TBT squad, including Jesse Pellot-Rosa (‘07), Eric Maynor (‘09) and Brandon Rozzell (‘11). Pellot-Rosa and Maynor were both starters on the 2007 VCU team that upset Duke in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament, and Rozell was a key contributor on VCU’s 2011 Final Four team.

Jordan Burgess (‘17) will also join the team this year. Burgess started 86 games for VCU over the last four years. He posted double-digit scoring numbers six times last season, including an 11-point performance in the Rams’ first-round loss to Saint Mary’s in the 2017 NCAA Tournament.

Jordan will join his older brother Bradford Burgess (‘12), who has made the transition from player to coach for this year’s tournament. It is worth noting that TBT rules allow teams to have up to 15 players on their roster, and as of today, Ram Nation only has 12. The official team rosters are not submitted until June 1, so that means Burgess or Joey Rodriguez could theoretically add themselves to the active roster before the tournament actually starts. I, for one, hope we get to see a Burgess brothers tandem take the court at some point in this years TBT.

The current roster also features four non-VCU alumni in Denzel Bowles (James Madison), Romeo Travis (Akron), Reggie Williams (VMI) and Dion Wright (St. Bonaventure). At 6’10, Bowles gives Ram Nation an inside presence that they didn’t have last year.

Ram Nation will enter TBT as one of the favorites to contend for the $2 million prize. The most recent power rankings has them pegged at the fourth best team of the 72 eligible teams. They reached the Super 16 in last year’s TBT before falling to the eventual champion Overseas Elite. The additions of Bowles and Jordan Burgess may propel them even further in this year’s TBT. Ram Nation will take the court in Charlotte, NC on July 8-9 as a part of the South Region.