1943 College Basketball Recap
College basketball's first true national championship game was played at Madison Square Garden when a special Red Cross benefit game was arranged between NIT champion St. John's and NCAA champion Wyoming.
Travel restrictions weren't a problem because the NCAA had moved its Final Two to the Garden. The NIT-NCAA showdown gave New York basketball fans a chance to get another look at Wyoming's All-America guard Kenny Sailors, whose dribbling wizardry and innovative jump shot made him the sensation of the season.
Sailors had scored 16 to lead the Cowboys to a come-from-behind win over Georgetown in the NCAA final. St. John's, meanwhile, had beaten Toledo by 21 to win the NIT crown. Wyoming won the Red Cross game, 52–47.
The best team in the country, however, was probably Big Ten champion Illinois (17–1), which declined invites to both tourneys. The Illini were paced by the Whiz Kids—20 year-old All-America forward Andy Phillip and teenagers Ken Menke, Gene Vance, Jack Smiley and Art Mathisen. They so dominated the Big Ten, that only Northwestern's Otto Graham could crack the all-conference team.