Broncos March Madness: Finding Success At Hoops Schools


It’s called March Madness for a reason.

Every year, college basketball gathers the top 64 teams for an epic tournament that, in the first two weekends, features some of the most fast and furious action the sports world can handle, and people eat it up.

More from Predominantly Orange

The reason it’s called March Madness is because every year, unheralded college basketball programs are looking to etch their name in history by becoming the next Cinderella story, but there’s also a usual cast of characters.

Teams like Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, Indiana, and the like are college basketball powers that usually have pretty under the radar football programs. And, when I say ‘under the radar’ it’s a nice way of saying that the football programs don’t quite hold up to the standard set by the basketball ones, at least in terms of winning and National Championship aspirations.

All of that said, I find it interesting that the Broncos have been able to put together one of the best rosters in all of the NFL, and yet have so many guys coming from traditional college basketball power programs. As you can imagine, the players probably love representing their respective school and bragging about their success in sports even after they’ve graduated, perhaps even with some fun wagering.

The Broncos are in a pretty rare position to have guys from some of these schools that aren’t known for churning out NFL talent. Here are some guys that John Elway and the front office have brought in with ties to some of these big time hoops programs.

Kansas Jayhawks

Chris Harris Jr., Aqib Talib, Steven Johnson

The Broncos have been very fortunate to have some of the best NFL players in recent history out of Kansas to play on their team, and at the same time. Harris Jr. has developed from an unddrafted free agent into one of the best cornerbacks in the entire league. Talib was drafted in the first round and has battled off-field issues, but has also established himself as a Pro Bowl player.

Jan 11, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib (21) against the Indianapolis Colts in the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Colts defeated the Broncos 24-13. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Johnson is a key special teams player that was re-signed by the Broncos this offseason.

The Jayhawks were a two seed in this year’s tournament, and are typically always one of the best in college basketball under the guidance of Bill Self.

Duke Blue Devils

The Broncos haven’t had wild success with Duke Blue Devils players by any means, but they have Juwan Thompson as a potential starting fullback and a steal from last year’s free agent class. They also have Kenny Anunike, a defensive end who has had his share of injury problems but is talented and was looking really good last year in training camp before being put on injured reserve.

Dec 22, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Denver Broncos running back Juwan Thompson (40) against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Another major connection the Broncos have to Duke is the fact that Peyton Manning holds private workouts there every offseason for him and some of his other Broncos passing game teammates. Head football coach David Cutcliffe has been a huge factor in Peyton Manning’s success as an NFL player.

Duke is a top seed in the tournament and with Mike Krzyzewski, they are always among the best teams in college hoops.

Kentucky Wildcats

The Kentucky Wildcats have been very good to the Denver Broncos in recent years. Starting with Wesley Woodyard as an undrafted free agent, they have provided the Broncos with strong linebacker play also from Danny Trevathan, a former sixth round pick.

Jan 12, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos linebacker Danny Trevathan (59) during the 2013 AFC divisional playoff football game against the San Diego Chargers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Up until this season, the Broncos had also gotten some solid years out of Jacob  Tamme, who is one of Peyton Manning’s best friends.

The Wildcats are the top overall team in this year’s tournament and undefeated at the time I’m writing this.

Indiana Hoosiers

The Broncos don’t have a lot from Indiana, but one player expected to break out this season is wide receiver Cody Latimer, who was a second round pick a year ago. Latimer showed off some serious skill on the basketball court in his time with the Hoosiers, too.

Aug 17, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Cody Latimer (14) catches a pass before the start of the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi

The Hoosiers were just a 10 seed in this year’s NCAA tournament, but they have a storied college basketball history and Latimer hopes to propel their alumni in terms of NFL success.


The Broncos also have a few key players from the North Carolina Tar Heels football program, but UNC has been a pretty solid football school in recent years. They’re still much better known for their hoops history, thanks to some guy named Michael Jordan in a long list of stars, but with Sylvester Williams, Marvin Austin, and Connor Barth, the Broncos have a trio of Tar Heels on the squad as well.

Next: Broncos Holding Door Open For Free Agents