March Madness: Best brother duos to ever play in NCAA Tournament | NCAA Basketball
Success in the NCAA Tournament is rarely an individual achievement: It often takes an entire team functioning as a family for a deep run. Sometimes, it literally takes a family.
While brothers playing on the same team is already a pretty rare occurrence, turning that innate chemistry into postseason triumph is even rarer. The 2019 tournament has a few brother duos as well, including Kansas’ Dedric and K.J. Lawson, Nevada’s Caleb and Cody Martin, Marquette’s Sam and Joey Hauser and Vermont’s trio of Ernie, Everett and Robin Duncan. Maybe they’ll find themselves on this list some day.
With that, Sporting News ranks the best brother duos (or trio) in NCAA Tournament history:
Donell and Ronell Taylor (UAB, 2004-05)
After transferring from Northwest Florida State in 2003, the Taylor twins led the Blazers to some of the biggest upsets of the 2004 and 2005 NCAA tournaments. That started in 2004, when the Taylors combined for 21 points to help 9-seed UAB top No. 8 Washington in the first round and 20 points to help knock off 1-seed Kentucky, 76-75. Their Blazers lost by 26 in the Sweet Sixteen to Kansas. In their final season, the Taylors both averaged double-digit points per game and helped 11-seed UAB upset 6-seed LSU with a combined 23 points before falling to 3-seed Arizona in the second round. Donell signed as an undrafted free agent with the Washington Wizards, and played in the NBA for two season before heading overseas to play professionally like his brother.
Joey and Stephen Graham (Oklahoma State, 2004-05)
The Graham twins began their careers at Central Florida before transferring to Oklahoma State in 2003-04. In their first year in Stillwater, the Grahams returned the Cowboys to their first Final Four since 1995. Under the guidance of legendary coach Eddie Sutton, 2-seed Oklahoma State cruised to the Final Four (beating 3-seed Pitt and 1-seed St. Joseph’s) before falling 67-65 to 3-seed Georgia Tech. Joey had a team-high 17 points and 10 rebounds in that game. The following year, the Cowboys repeated as a 2-seed, but only advanced as far as the Sweet 16, where they lost to the same Arizona team that beat UAB in the round prior. Joey averaged a team-high 17.7 points per game, while both brothers played in all 33 games the Cowboys played that season.
Blake and Taylor Griffin (Oklahoma, 2008-09)
Yes, Blake Griffin has an older brother who’s not nearly as well-known outside Sooners circles. Taylor, who was part of a Sooners team that went to the NCAA Tournament his freshman freshman year but was upset in the first round, did not win his first tournament game until his younger brother joined the team. In 2008, 6-seed Oklahoma advanced to the second round before losing to Louisville.
The Griffins had their most success in their final year in Norman, as the ’09 Oklahoma team advanced all the way to the Elite Eight as a 2-seed before losing to eventual champion North Carolina. Both brother were starters, with Taylor averaging 9.6 points for the season and Blake averaging 22.7. Blake was the top overall pick in that year’s NBA Draft and has since become a NBA All-Star multiple times. Taylor was drafted in the second round by Phoenix, but only ever played eight games in the league.
Marcus and Markieff Morris (Kansas, 2009-11)
The Morris brother stayed around long enough for three trips to the NCAA Tournament. Their best act came in their final year, as they led the 1-seed Jayhawks to the Elite Eight before losing to 11-seed VCU. While Marcus garnered more awards such as the 2011 Big 12 Player of the Year, both brothers contributed to the Jayhawks’ success. Markieff had the highest score of any Kansas player in that 2011 tournament, with 24 in the second round against Illinois, while Marcus led the Jayhawks in scoring in two of the other tournament games.
As sophomores, the Morrises were a part of the overall No. 1 seeded Kansas team upset in the second round by Northern Iowa. Their freshmen season, Kansas advanced to the Sweet 16 as a 3-seed before losing to Michigan State. Both twins were drafted in the 2011 NBA Draft, just five minutes apart. Markieff went 13th overall to by Phoenix, while Marcus was taken with the next pick by Houston.
Jason and Jarron Collins (Stanford, 1997-2001)
Perhaps not the set of twins that immediately comes to mind when thinking of Stanford siblings (think Brook and Robin Lopez), but by far the most successful. The Collins’ freshmen years were their most successful as members of the Cardinal. Stanford advanced all the way to the Final Four before losing by one point in an overtime loss to Kentucky. The next two seasons, the twins and Stanford took early exits in the NCAA Tournament, bowing out in the second round each year. In their swan song, they made one last deep run as a 1-seed, advancing to the 2001 Elite Eight before getting bounced 73-87 by 3-seed Maryland.
Their nine career tournament victories are the most of any sibling group in our ranking. Jason was a first-round draft pick by the New Jersey Nets that year and played 13 seasons before retiring in 2014. In his final season, he became the first openly gay athlete to play in any of four major North American pro sports leagues. He was subsequently featured on the cover of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World.” Jarron was drafted in ’01 by Utah and retired 10 seasons later as a Portland Trailblazer.
Mason, Miles and Marshall Plumlee (Duke, 2008-13)
Although all three were never on the same team — Marshall only played one year with his older brother Mason and none with oldest Miles — the Plumlees made it a family tradition of staying busy at the end of March. Their best tournament run came in 2010, with Mason as a freshman and Miles a sophomore. Led by Jon Scheyer and Kyle Singler, a 1-seeded Blue Devils team defeated Butler in the national championship to claim the school’s fourth title. Mason and Miles were part of another 1-seed Duke in 2011 (losing to Arizona in the Sweet 16), and a 2-seed in 2012 (getting upset by 15-seed Lehigh in the first round).
In Marshall’s only season playing with Miles, Duke made it all the way to the Elite Eight as a 2-seed before losing to eventual national champion Louisville. Mason and Miles were both first-round NBA Draft selections, while Marshall went undrafted.
Ed and Charles O’Bannon (UCLA, 1994-95)
The O’Bannon brothers weren’t just participants of UCLA’s 1995 title-winning team, they were its defining pieces. Senior Ed and sophomore Charles capped their final season together by defeating Arkansas 89-78 in the 1995 title game. Ed scored 30 points with 17 rebounds in the final en route to winning the Most Outstanding Player Award for that year’s tournament, along with that year’s John R. Wooden Award. Charles, although not quite at the level of his older brother, was a starter all season and went on to be First Team All-Pac-10 the next two years. The brothers also qualified for the tournament in ’94, but were upset in the first round by 12-seed Tulsa.