At Oakland University, Students and Alumni Bask in the N.C.A.A. Spotlight

Before Thursday night, if you were not familiar with Oakland University, you were not alone. Not far from the campus, even locals at a Detroit bar, who were watching the team shock No. 3 seed Kentucky in the first round of the N.C.A.A. Tournament, were asking if “that Oakland was in California” or the Michigan suburb of Rochester. (It’s the latter.)

On Friday, after Oakland’s 80-76 upset victory as a No. 14 seed, students and graduates reveled in the university’s moment in the March Madness sun. They include John Hendley, class of 2005, who watched the game from Florida with his wife, Melissa, also a graduate.

“If people didn’t know who the Oakland University Golden Grizzlies were before last night, they surely know now,” Mr. Hendley said.

For all but perhaps close followers of the university, a brief introduction may be in order: It was created in 1957 through a donation to establish a satellite location for Michigan State University. At first, the campus was known as Michigan State University-Oakland, but in 1970, Oakland became an independent university.

In 1997, Oakland University moved its athletic program from N.C.A.A. Division II to Division I. A year later, it changed its mascot from the Pioneers to Golden Grizzlies, according to the university’s website.

The campus of Oakland University feels more like a sprawling corporate park, which makes sense. There are a lot of them nearby, like the world headquarters for Stellantis (formerly known as Chrysler) and other automotive suppliers.

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