March Madness Flackback: Wyoming Wins 1934 National Championship
This year marks the 75th anniversary of Wyoming's last national champions, but they weren't the first. Before Kenny Sailors took the Pokes all the way in 1943, Dutch Witte and his little brother Les led the Cowboys to the first national title in school history.
College basketball was much different in 1934. The toughest opponents on the schedule weren't other universities. Three of Wyoming's four losses came against the Denver Pigs, a team of touring professionals sponsored by the Piggly Wiggly grocery chain.
Their final meeting was a closely contested contest in Casper, with the Pigs prevailing 31-29. Hanging with one of the best professional teams in the country impressed sportswriters, and the Pokes were named national champions by the Helms Athletic Foundation. Wyoming finished the season 26-4, 26-1 against collegiate opponents and undefeated in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
Les Witte became the first Wyoming player to score 1,000 points and was a two-time All-American. His older brother Dutch coached basketball and football and served as Wyoming's athletic director, compiling a career record of 134-51 on the hardwood and a 16-30-3 record on the gridiron.
The Denver Pigs went on to win the AAU National Tournament in 1937. In 1939, they won the national tournament under a new name, the Denver Nuggets.