Like it’s football brother, college basketball is special because of its traditions and historic programs. What would college basketball be without Duke-UNC, Louisville-Kentucky and its other great rivalries? What would college basketball be without its legendary coaches like Coach K, Roy Williams, and John Calipari? A lesser sport, that’s what.
One of the rather unique traditions of college basketball though is its celebrity fan involvement. There just something about the NCAA March Madness Tournament that brings out the star power for their schools. Different than in other sports, celebrities flock to the court to see their favored schools play.
We’ve put together a guide to college basketball’s biggest celebrity superfans. Some of these connections you are aware of, like Ashley Judd and Kentucky, or Drake and whoever is favored to win. However, some of these may be a surprise to you like they were to us when we were putting together this list.
Flip through and have a look, there are a few surprises and connections you may have not been aware of.
Ashley Judd – University of Kentucky Wildcats
Ashley Judd is perhaps the most famous college basketball fan there is. Not that she is the most famous of this list, but she’s been very publicly supporting Kentucky basketball for a long time. She’s been on the sidelines yelling for her team for years.
She got into a Twitter storm a few years ago when she tweeted that the Arkansas basketball team could go to you-know-where after a particularly contentious game between the two schools. She felt the wrath of college basketball Twitter on that occasion, but that hasn’t deterred her love of the game.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Northwestern Wildcats
It may shock you to find out that the actress who played the diminutive “Elaine” on Seinfeld all those years ago was able to produce a Division 1 basketball player, but that’s exactly the case. Her son Charlie Hall is a forward on the Northwestern Men’s Basketball team.
Louis-Dreyfus is, of course, a Northwestern alum as well so her fandom was easy. She probably still had some old sweatshirts in her closet from her college days. The Wildcats probably won’t be making the tournament this year so we’ll get no “Veep” sightings this spring.
Lil Jon – UNLV Rebels
No word on where the allegiance of the Eastside Boyz, but Lil Jon has thrown his support behind the UNLV Rebels. Lil Jon and Las Vegas, it just makes sense, doesn’t it? Especially given the way that the program was run under Jerry Tarkanian.
Maybe we can expect a remix of one of his songs for the Rebels basketball program like he did for the Tennessee Volunteers and their “Third Down for What” song. The Rebels could use some of that energy to sneak into the Big Dance this year.
Rob Riggle – Kansas Jayhawks
You know Rob from The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live, among other appearances. He’s famous for being really funny, and most people know that he was a Marine before he entered show business. But did you know he’s also a University of Kansas alumni?
Riggle is crazy about his Jayhawks basketball, and is at as many Kansas basketball games as he can attend with his busy schedule. He seems like he’d be an incredible guy to watch a basketball game with.
Jennifer Lawrence – Louisville Cardinals
The Academy Award-winning actress is a native of Louisville, so it’s only right that she’d be a hardcore Cardinals fan. She’s been spotted at many Cardinal basketball games, and is as basketball-crazy are her fellow Kentuckians.
Louisville has finally turned its program around after the scandals that ended the Rick Pitino era. They are looking like a potential number 1 seed in the tournament come March. Keep an eye on those sidelines, you might see J-Law.
Bill Murray – Xavier University/University of Louisville
Bill Murray has a charming connection to those universities. His son Luke Murray is a college basketball coach who worked as an assistant to Chris Mack at Xavier. It was during the Musketeers 2018 NCAA Tournament that we discovered Murray on the sidelines sporting a Xavier cap and throwing up the “X.”
Well, Murray’s allegiances have surely shifted south as Chris Mack took the University of Louisville job and took Luke with him. We’ve yet to see the elder Murray at a Louisville game, but rest assured he’ll be there this spring supporting his son and the Cardinals.
Brooklyn Decker & Andy Roddick – North Carolina Tar Heels
Brooklyn Decker is a massive North Carolina Tar Heels fan. She grew up in North Carolina, so the connection makes sense. She’s taken it to the next level, though, even appearing on television to talk about college basketball.
While her husband, former tennis star Andy Roddick, wasn’t a Tar Heels fan before the pair got married, he sure is now. Apparently, the couple has come to a compromise. Roddick cheers for UNC basketball and Decker will root for Nebraska football. You know what they say: “Happy wife, happy life.”
Matthew McConaughey – Texas Longhorns
Not only is Matthew McConaughey a Texas Longhorns superfan, but it’s actually now his job. He was hired by the university as “Minister of Culture” for their new basketball arena. What does that job entail? Well, supposedly he will help to “create a fan experience unlike any other.”
It won’t matter how good a job McConaughey does if the team doesn’t start winning. Sitting in the middle of the Big 12 is not likely to get you into the Big Dance. Shaka Smart and company had better shape up.
Ashton Kutcher – Iowa Hawkeyes
While Ashton Kutcher might be as Hollywood as anyone these days, he is heart remains in Iowa. He wears Hawkeyes gear in public, he goes to all Hawkeye sports (even wrestling matches), and he even accidentally committed a recruiting violation on behalf of the university.
All of that shows he’s a true fan, but he tried to take it to the next level when his son was born. Kutcher told Conan O’Brien that when his son was born, he told wife Mila Kunis that he wanted to name him Hawkeye. Ok, Ashton, that’s taking it too far.
Tony Romo – Duke Blue Devils
Tony Romo is a guy from Illinois, so what connection does he have to Duke University, a school in North Carolina? Simple, greatness follows greatness. Romo isn’t just a casual fan either. He shows up to Durham frequently.
Romo has even brought his former boss Jason Garrett to games with him. And believe it or not, the former Dallas Cowboy quarterback has sat in the student section with the famed Cameron Crazies. The guy is serious about his Dukies.
Vince Gill – Belmont Bruins
Vince Gill’s affiliation with Belmont started late in his life as he was actually born in Norman, Oklahoma, the home of the University of Oklahoma. Gill made his name as a country musician in Nashville, Tennessee. This is where the connection with Belmont came.
Gill has been a supporter of the university over the years, establishing 3 scholarships in the music department. The Nashville-based university returned the favor by awarding Gill with an honorary doctorate.
Toby Keith – Oklahoma Sooners
Toby Keith is Oklahoma through and through. The country music star even played on the Oklahoma Sooner football team in 1980. He didn’t see the field, but it’s more of a college football career than most of us will get.
His love of the Sooners extends to the basketball program as well, and Keith has been seen at many Sooner hoops games over the years. We’d love to hear a Toby Keith version of the fight song, Boomer Sooner.
Justin Timberlake – Memphis Tigers
Everyone knows JT is Memphis through and through. When the University of Memphis was set to name fellow Memphian Penny Hardaway as the new men’s basketball coach, who did they call? That’s right, Timberlake.
Timberlake and the university collaborated to make the annual Memphis Madness event a star-studded sellout. Timberlake also has a minority ownership stake in the other Memphis basketball team in town, the Grizzlies.
Adam Duritz – Cal Bears
Admittedly, this is a weird one. Sure, the Counting Crows frontman grew up in the Bay Area, but he doesn’t appear to be a guy who’d be that into college sports. Despite appearances to the contrary, Duritz loves his Cal Golden Bears. He’s even been known to moonlight as a sideline reporter during games.
Unfortunately, Duritz has shaved his head so if he’s at a Bear game this season, you probably wouldn’t be able to pick him out of a crowd. It was probably a good decision though.
Lebron James – The Ohio State University Buckeyes
Everyone knows that LeBron James is “just a kid from Akron, Ohio” who went straight to the NBA out of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s high school. Despite never having been a college athlete, LeBron has a strong love for the Ohio State Buckeyes. In fact, he says he would have played at Ohio State if he hadn’t gone pro.
The love is mutual too. Ohio State has given his own locker in the Buckeye basketball locker room despite him never being a player there. LeBron frequently hooks the basketball and football programs up with special gear too. The Buckeye love is real.
Nick Lachey – Cincinnati Bearcats
Nick Lachey and his bandmates from the boy band 98 Degrees are all from Cincinnati and grew up in a time when Bob Huggins was making the Bearcats basketball program an elite team. So it only makes sense that Lachey would be a massive fan of the Bearcats. He even has built a Bearcats themed basketball court in his house.
These days Lachey is trying his hand at acting. Will the Bearcats make a Cinderella run through the tournament that inspires Lachey’s next role? We’ll have to watch and see.
Mark Cuban – Indiana Hoosiers
Cuban is best known for his flamboyant ownership of the Dallas Mavericks and his presence on the television show Shark Tank, but he got his start at Indiana University. While at IU, Cuban was already getting into business. He started a bar, ran disco lessons and organized a chain letter.
Eventually, he made it big and the rest is history. He’s never forgotten the Hoosiers though. He frequently attends big games and was present for Bob Knight’s return to Assembly Hall in 2020. He even donated $5 million to the basketball program for a new technology center.
David Letterman – Ball State Cardinals
David Letterman may have made his name in the bright lights of show business, but he got his start at Ball State. Letterman is so intertwined with the university that he donated the money to start WCRD, the public radio station at Ball State. The call letter for WCRD even stands for “Cardinal Radio Dave.”
Occasionally Letterman will just pop up on campus unannounced and just walk around. As you can imagine, this causes quite a stir on campus. He is the school’s most famous alumni by a long shot.
Kate Upton – Michigan Wolverines
Kate Upton is a Michigan native and Michigan sports has had an important role in her life through her husband and former Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander. When it comes to college sports though, Upton is a Wolverine.
Her presence at the 2013 National Championship Game spurred on Michigan guard Spike Albrecht to a 17-point first-half out of nowhere. Even though they lost, Spike shot his shot again, tweeting at Upton a thank for coming to the game and supporting the Wolverines.
Mayim Bialik – UCLA Bruins
Here’s your reminder that Mayim Bialik is not like other people. Sure, she’s a famous actress who has been on very successful television shows like “Blossom” and “The Big Bang Theory”, but she’s also earned a Ph.D. Where did she get her degrees? Why UCLA of course.
While at UCLA she didn’t just stick to the books, she made her way to quite a few Bruins basketball games and is a very passionate fan. By the way, the Ph.D. is in neuroscience. So again, not like everyone else.
Bill Clinton – Arkansas Razorbacks
Woo Pig Sooie to the 42nd President of the United States. He grew up in the state and has always been a loyal Razorbacks fan. During his presidency, Clinton became the first President to attend the Final Four.
The Arkansas basketball program even retired the number 42 in honor of him being the 42nd president. These days he’s got plenty of time to support his beloved Razorbacks, so look for him in the stands in Fayetteville. Well, the president and his Secret Service detail.
Kid Rock – Michigan State Spartans
Kid Rock is, as he has told everyone many times, just a redneck from Michigan. He is a big supporter of all Michigan professional sports, the Tigers, Red Wings, and the Lions so it only makes sense that he’d support a college program too.
Well, you’re in luck Spartans fans, because the Kid is one of you. For some reason, Kid Rock picked the Spartans over the Wolverines. He must feel more at home in East Lansing than in Ann Arbor. What does that say about East Lansing?
Flavor Flav – Penn State Nittany Lions
Honestly, we aren’t sure if Flav is still a fan of the Nittany Lions, but he was for at least four years. Why you ask? His cousin, Shep Garner, was a guard for the Nittany Lions from 2014-2018. What an impact on the Penn State basketball community that must have made.
If you’ve ever been to State College you know that the arrival of Flava Flav would have been an incredible scene in the small town. It must have been fun while it lasted. Garner now plays in the NBA G-League.
Selena Gomez – Baylor Bears
This may surprise some fans out there but apparently, Selena is a Baylor Bears fan. Not only has she been spotted multiple times wearing Baylor Bears gear, but she took it a step further when she adopted a puppy while living with Justin Bieber.
What did she name that puppy? Baylor, of course. Gomez is from Texas, so the connection is there. Rumor has it her sister even attended the Waco-based university. Sic ‘em Bears!
Morgan Freeman – Ole Miss Rebels
The Academy Award-winning actor was raised in Charleston, Mississippi, which is less than an hour away from Oxford, where Ole Miss is. It makes sense then that Freeman would be a die-hard Rebels fan. You can just imagine Freeman throwing up the “Landshark” in support of his Rebs.
What we really need though is someone in the athletic department to get Freeman to narrate some inspiring hype videos for the program. Can you imagine the smooth velvety tones of Morgan Freeman getting you hyped for hoops?
Darius Rucker – South Carolina Gamecocks
Hootie is a hardcore Gamecocks fan. He goes to football and basketball when his touring schedule will allow him. He showed his true colors when he was spotted crying tears of joy at Madison Square Garden after the Gamecocks knocked off Florida to earn their first trip to the Final Four in 2017.
With the Gamecocks poised for yet another NCAA Tournament run, expect to be seeing lots of Darius Rucker on your TV screens.
The Big Show (Paul Wright) – Wichita State Shockers
The Big Show, as he’s known in the ring to WWE fans was an actual college basketball player at Wichita State University. The 7-footer was a reserve center on the team during the 1991-92 season and averaged 2.1 rebounds and 2.0 points per game. Tough to imagine going up for a rebound against The Big Show.
He loved his time with the Shockers saying, “I had a great time at Wichita State. It’s a great university. I love the program. Obviously, the basketball career didn’t work out, but the two world championship wrestling belts aren’t bad.
Andy North – Wisconsin Badgers
The US Open Winner’s love affair with Wisconsin basketball goes back many many decades. North was born in Wisconsin and has been a Badger his whole life. He was even neighbors with the Badgers football coach in the 1970’s, Dave McClain. After traveling the world as a professional golfer, North returned to Wisconsin.
He became friends with legendary Wisconsin basketball coach Bo Ryan and became one of the Badger’s most famous fans. These days you’ll see him cheering “On Wisconsin” at many Badger basketball games.
Mahershala Ali – Saint Mary’s College Gaels
The Academy Award-winning actor gets his Gaels fandom the most natural way. He was a player. Known then as Mahershala Gilmore, Ali played four seasons at Saint Mary’s as a guard.
He knew college was as far as he’d go tough, telling GQ, “It was about getting a basketball scholarship to a Division 1 school. Once I got that, I didn’t set a realistic next goal on how to get into the NBA, which is perhaps for the best.” Definitely for the best or we wouldn’t get to enjoy him on the big screen.
Jason Sudeikis – Kansas Jayhawks
Sudeikis is a Kansas native with a love of Jayhawks basketball. He’s constantly being photographed on the sidelines at Phogg Allen Fieldhouse. Lately, he’s been there with partner Olivia Wilde. The two of them sure bring the star power to Lawrence.
Sudeikis knows basketball too. He attended Fort Scott Community College on a basketball scholarship before pursuing acting. It does make you wonder what he’d prefer, an acting career or to be a Jayhawks basketball player.
Rob Lowe – Duke Blue Devils
It’s true, his beloved character on the television show The West Wing, Sam Seaborn, went to Duke, but the connection doesn’t end there. Lowe’s son Matthew is a student at Duke now and the two Lowe’s have been seen multiple times together at Blue Devils games.
It doesn’t hurt that legendary Duke coach, Coach K, is a big West Wing fan. Surely he could hook the Lowe family up with some sweet seats. The court is named after him, after all.
John “Cougar” Mellencamp – Indiana Hoosiers
John Mellencamp is a huge Hoosier. Sure, he’s famous and he’s from Indiana but he’s also a huge supporter of the Indiana University sports teams. If you have any doubt, just look at whose name is on the indoor training facility for the football program. That’s right, it’s called the John Mellencamp Pavilion.
Like any good Indiana native, Mellencamp is also crazy about basketball. He’s been spotted many times at Assembly Hall in Bloomington. He’s brought some of his famous girlfriends around too including Christie Brinkley and Meg Ryan.
Seth Meyers – Northwestern Wildcats
Seth Meyers is another of the famous Northwestern University alumni working in show business. But his affiliation with the university doesn’t end there. He’s given the commencement address at graduations and he is a rabid Wildcats sports fan.
Meyers admitted to reporters that he watches Northwestern basketball, “like a crazy person.” It sounds like a guy who’s got the basketball bug to us. Hopefully, the Wildcats aren’t making him too crazy this season.
Drake – Kentucky Wildcats
Yes, Drake is a fan of every team that is good. He’s a glory hunter, and that rubs people the wrong way. However, he has developed a friendly relationship with head coach John Calipari and the Wildcats basketball program over the years.
He’s often seen at games and he has been the guest emcee at their midnight madness season kickoff event. He’s even brought other celebrities along with him such as Johnny Manziel. Not sure Calipari was thrilled about that connection though.