Contrary to what you might think, Oakland University is no where near California. In fact it is in suburban Detroit. It is in the incredibly affluent town of Rochester, Michigan to be exact, a fact that they let you know prominently on their website. Oakland is a public institution of around 17,000 student that was founded in 1959 as Michigan State University-Oakland but changed it’s name to Oakland University in 1963.
The Oakland athletic teams were called the Pioneers until 1997 when the university decided to move from Division II to Division I. A committee narrowed the field of mascot possibilities down to three, the Golden Grizzlies, the Saber Cats and the old nickname, the Pioneers. Ultimately the decision was wisely made to use the Golden Grizzlies.
“It’s original, it ties in directly with our school colors, and it represents the new, aggressive nature of our athletic program’s move to Division I competition,” said Athletic Director Jack Mehl.
Apparently that aggressive nature has worked for Oakland as they are now knocking on history’s door. They are only 13-18 on the season but they have been red hot as of late and will take on #1 seeded North Carolina on Friday in Charlotte. It sounds totally crazy but I really think that of all the #16 seeds, Oakland actually has a decent chance at an upset which would be the first time a #16 has ever beaten a #1. They played an extremely tough non-conference schedule and should be ready. If they shoot like they are capable of doing, it could be a much closer game than one would ever expect.
Besides, that bear is pretty badass. Much tougher than a Tar Heel whatever that is. And that is, of course, how I pick my brackets.