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The Most Shocking Upset Of The 2024 Men’s March Madness Tournament: Oakland

Zach Godsey

Jack Gohlke, Oakland’s primary shooter, was lights out all game for the Golden Grizzles

In what is possibly the most shocking upset that we will see over the course of the entire 2024 NCAA Men’s Basketball March Madness tournament, the Oakland Golden Grizzlies, the 14th-seed, beat the third-seeded Kentucky Wildcats with an 80-76 win. This win marked the first March Madness victory in Oakland Mens Basketball history since 2011, ending their 13-year drought. Kentucky, a team adorned with potential NBA talent and led by the veteran John Calipari, found themselves trailing and unable to catch up for most of the night. The entire Oakland team played a nearly flawless game right up until the buzzer, but one player stood out among them. Jack Gohlke, a graduate transfer from Hillsdale College — a Division II basketball school — was the star of the night, showcasing a performance that outshone the many NBA prospects that played in that game. Standing at 6 foot 3 inches, Gohlke scored a career-high 32 points, which were primarily from his ten 3-pointers, nearly breaking the NCAA Tournament single-game 3-point record. In addition to Gohlke, the Horizon League Player of the Year Trey Townsend contributed 17 points, and DQ Cole's clutch 3-pointer in the final minutes of the game sealed the victory for Oakland.

Oakland's victory was rooted in a season-long belief that they could compete with any team, regardless of the opponent's reputation. This confidence was palpable from the start of the game, as Gohlke's 3-point shooting gave Oakland some early momentum. Despite Kentucky's attempts to shut down his 3-point shot with a box-and-one defense, Oakland was able to adapt and center the offense around getting him an open shot. This quick flexibility allowed a steady stream of points to come from behind the arc, eventually giving them the win. 

Although Oakland’s upset over Kentucky most likely shattered the vast majority of brackets across the country, Gohlke’s journey from a Division II player to being a star in the 2024 NCAA tournament, and Oakland’s upset as a whole, is the epitome of March Madness. For underdog teams like Oakland, March Madness is not just about competing; it's about seizing the moment, defying expectations, and making their name known on the national stage. Even though Oakland was later defeated by another underdog team, NC State, their win against a basketball program as strong and well-known as Kentucky will go down as one of the most electrifying upset performances in recent March Madness memory.


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