Mar 20, 2024 - Sports

Oakland Golden Grizzlies shoot for Cinderella NCAA Tournament run

Oakland won the Horizon League championship this month to make the NCAA Tournament.

Oakland won the Horizon League championship this month to make the NCAA Tournament. Photo: Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Oakland men's basketball coach Greg Kampe will add another chapter to his legendary career this week.

Why it matters: In a college sports world that's never been more transitory, Kampe's 40-year stint — entirely at Oakland University — has included four trips to the NCAA Tournament, a proud achievement at a mid-major program like Oakland.

Driving the news: The Horizon League champion Golden Grizzlies earned the No. 14 seed in the South region of the NCAA Tournament. They'll face the 3-seeded Kentucky Wildcats and coach John Calipari, who is a friend of Kampe's.

  • It's Oakland's first trip to the tournament since going back-to-back in 2010 and 2011.
  • The game is Thursday at 7:10pm on CBS.

What they're saying: Kampe said he's embracing the challenge of playing one of his friends, despite being eliminated from past tournaments by close colleagues like Texas' Rick Barnes in 2011.

  • "If we're going to be there, we might as well, not get exposed, but have the exposure of getting in this tournament and playing arguably the greatest basketball program in the country," Kampe told the Detroit News' Tony Paul.

The intrigue: Kampe is beloved on campus, from fans who make up Kampe's Korner at the Athletics Center O'Rena, to his players and even the media.

  • He's a favorite among fellow coaches as well: His phone blew up after Oakland's tournament berth was announced, with more than 500 texts from Calipari, former Pistons coach Dwane Casey, Tom Izzo and others.

What's next: Should Oakland pull off the upset, it would play the Texas Tech-NC State winner on Saturday.

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