While Wyoming showed talent this season, the Cowboys weren’t pegged as a team who would be dancing this year.
As the No. 4 seed in the Mountain West Conference Tournament, Wyoming bypassed No. 5 Utah State, 67-65, No. 1 Boise State, 71-66 in overtime, and No. 2 San Diego State, 45-43, to clench the conference championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Cowboys will be heading to the dance 25-9 overall, 11-7 in the MW and are ranked ninth in the nation for points allowed to an opponent – average 56.0 points.
Here’s what you need to know about Wyoming:
1. This Is Wyoming’s First NCAA Tournament Berth Since 2002
While the Cowboys made 13 NCAA Tournament appearances between 1941 and 1988, their only tournament berth in the past 26 years was back in 2002. The Cowboys made it two rounds that year – defeating Gonzaga, 73-66, before falling to Arizona, 68-60.
2. Wyoming’s Last NCAA Tournament Championship Was in 1943
The Cowboys basketball program began in 1904 when a group known as the “Laramie Town Team” challenged a team from the university to a basketball game – Wyoming won 17-5.
In their 111-year existence, the Cowboys reached an achievement most in the nation only dream of – a national championship. It was under the direction of Hall of Fame coach Everett Shelton and happened 72 years ago, in 1943.
Since then, the closest Wyoming has come to achieving that title again was in 1987 when they advanced all the way to the Sweet 16. They defeated Virginia and UCLA before falling to UNLV, 92-78.
3. Larry Nance Jr. Leads the Cowboys In Scoring and Rebounding
Larry Nance Jr., who is the son of former three-time NBA All-Star Larry Nance, leads Wyoming in both scoring and rebounds. The 6-foot-8 senior from Akron, Ohio averages 16.1 points and 7.3 boards per game for the Cowboys. He’s also shooting 51.6 percent from behind the arc.
Check out the team’s stats here.
4. Larry Shyatt Is In His 5th Season as Head Coach
After a long career as an assistant coach, Larry Shyatt took over the Cowboys’ program five years ago. The Cleveland, Ohio native played the 1970-71 season for the College of Wooster.
Shyatt then began his coaching career in 1973 as an assistant at Akron University. He stayed there until 1975 before moving on to Utah. Shyatt then returned to Ohio to be an assistant for Cleveland State in 1976 and after six years he went out west to New Mexico, then Providence in 1988, Clemson in 1994 and then took over Wyoming’s program in 1997.
Shyatt spent one year at the helm of the Cowboys before returning to Clemson – this time as a head coach. Then in 2004, he went to Florida to be an assistant coach for seven years before going back to be Wyoming’s head coach in 2011.
5. The University of Wyoming Is Located In Laramie, Wyoming
Laramie is a town of more than 30,000 people and located between two mountain ranges in the southeastern region of Wyoming.
UW is a nationally recognized research institution with an enrollment of 13,000 students and offers 200 areas of study as well as graduate school opportunities.