Sports

Oakland’s Jack Gohlke hopes NCAA Tournament format remains intact to give mid-major schools opportunity

The upsets in March Madness are what college basketball fans dream about when the NCAA Tournament comes around each year. And when they do come, there’s always those one or two players for the team no one expected to win their first-round matchup that gain immediate fame. 

That was Oakland University’s Jack Gohlke this year after he dropped 32 points coming off the bench with 10 three-pointers made on 20 attempts in a shocking performance that took down the Kentucky Wildcats, 80-76, in the first round. 

Since then, Gohlke admits life has been a “whirlwind.”

Jack Gohlke looks to shoot

Oakland guard Jack Gohlke looks to shoot during the Hanes Men’s 3-Point Championship at Global Credit Union Arena in Phoenix on Thursday. (Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“Just craziness from all angles, and just trying to handle it as best I can,” Gohlke told Fox News Digital when asked how his life has been since that game. “I think I’ve done a pretty good job so far. Just trying to manage my time, and I’ve luckily had people supporting and helping me out with all the messages and all that stuff. 

“Honestly, the biggest thing for me, the biggest thing I’ve noticed is just coming to these cool events like the [Final Four] three-point contest or the [NABC] All-Star Game. Meeting these players from across the country, these coaches and introducing myself like, ‘Hi, I’m Jack,’ and everyone’s like, ‘I know who you are.’ For me, that’s crazy because I’m just a normal guy.”

Over the years of the NCAA Tournament, there have been many players from mid-major schools that have led their teams to upset wins. However, there have been recent discussions about expanding the NCAA Tournament, which would ultimately make it harder for smaller schools like Gohlke’s Oakland to get into the 64-team bracket we’re all used to filling out in March. 

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The First Four play-in games, which determine the two No. 16 seeds and two No. 10 seeds each year, could feature even more competition. 

Gohlke is of the mindset of, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”

“There’s a certain magic to the tournament that gets renewed every single season,” he explained. “Everyone gets excited about it. They don’t know what’s going to happen, but they know something exciting is going to happen. Obviously, it’s up to the administrators and the coaches, they’re kinda the ones calling the shots in this scenario. As players, we don’t have too much of a say, but we can definitely speak out a little bit and say this is what it’s all about. Obviously, those guys at those Power 5 schools, they earn every single opportunity they get and props to them. But those mid-majors also deserve an opportunity to play for a spot in the tournament, which is what I think.”

Jack Gohlke clapping

Jack Gohlke of the Oakland Golden Grizzlies reacts during the second half of the game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh on March 23. (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

For mid-major players, great performances in the NCAA Tournament can now lead to many opportunities off the court. Gohlke saw that immediately, thanks to his jaw-dropping three-pointers over the Wildcats, when he was approached with name, image, likeness (NIL) opportunities following the win. 

As an accounting major and a current MBA student, Gohlke landed a fitting NIL deal with TurboTax that is changing his life because of that one game. Social media also quickly found out about his accounting background, leading to some hilarious memes that his teammates kept teasing him with. 

“Oh, yeah, I was getting all the memes,” Gohlke said. “My teammates were showing them to me. I wasn’t really on social media because I just couldn’t at that point. It was too much. But people were showing me them, people were giving me a hard time. 

“I think that’s part of the reason this was such a good partnership with TurboTax because people were running with the memes. It made sense with my major.”

Jack Gohlke reacts on court

Jack Gohlke of the Oakland Golden Grizzlies reacts during the first half of the game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh on March 23. (Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

That’s the magic for players from the higher seeds: life-changing opportunities for them after all their hard work to make the tournament. 

While Gohlke continues to enjoy the spoils of being a tournament wonder, he hopes more like him from mid-majors will have their shot long into the future. 

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