• Ben Dickson

CBT's Latest Men's Wheelchair Rankings

Only 12 teams constitute the intercollegiate division of men’s college basketball, so as the season moves on the teams get to know each other very well.


Each team’s schedule generally consists of weekend tournaments, playing as many as two or three games per day. Most of the games are between the 12 squads, although teams also play competition from outside the division. Teams like Michigan, who have not had time to fully recruit, and have not yet been fully funded to be in the league, or Adult Division III teams, such as the Brooklyn Nets, add extra action to collegiate schedules.


Some teams have yet to play many, if any, games, while others have up to 15 competitions under their belts. Despite the sport's scheduling quirks, all roads still lead to March. With almost a month of games already having been played and over three months left for teams to jostle for seeding in the NIWBT Championships, the majority of the 2021-22 season’s storyline is still to be written.


Now, let’s take a look at where each team stands in the current CBT rankings.


1. University of Texas-Arlington

The Movin’ Mavs powered through the early part of their schedule, going 3-1 and posting an unblemished 3-0 record against teams in the intercollegiate division. The reigning 2021 Intercollegiate National Champions hosted the UTA 2021 Jim Hayes Memorial Tournament as part of their homecoming weekend, and they did not disappoint the home crowd.


On Nov. 12, the Movin’ Mavs dominated Eastern Washington in their first game of the season, 78-14, and followed that up with a 74-39 destruction of preseason-No. 2 Alabama. The next day, UTA beat Arizona by 15 and suffered a one-point heartbreaker to the Dallas Mavericks, who are not a part of the collegiate division. Clarence McCarthy-Grogan, who represented Australia in this past summer’s Paralympics, scored 24 against Dallas.


“We’re pleased with our start,” head coach Doug Garner said. “We know we still got some things to work on. I like where we are speed-wise and team-wise, and if we can keep building on that, I think it’s going to be a good season, I think it’s going to be a fun season. Looks like there’s a lot of parity this year.”


2. University of Illinois

Hello, Illinois. The Fighting Illini’s electric and unexpected start has propelled them from No. 6 in our preseason rankings up to No. 2. At the Wisconsin-Whitewater Tournament on Nov. 19 and Nov. 20, head coach Matt Buchi walked away with an impressive sweep and a 4-0 record.


They beat every team ahead of them in our preseason rankings, with the important exception of UT-Arlington, who didn’t play in the tournament. Illinois defeated Alabama 92-90 in a double-overtime epic on Nov. 19 thanks to a game-winner by Matthew Talbot with 5.7 seconds left. On the same day, Illinois used Ben Moronchuk’s 33-point outing to blow past the tournament’s host, 73-59. The Fighting Illini also defeated Southwest Minnesota State and Arizona.


3. University of Alabama

Through 15 games, the Crimson Tide is 11-4 overall and 6-3 in intercollegiate division play. Alabama opened its season in October with a two-game sweep over Auburn and carried some of that momentum into November. Head coach Ford Burttram’s squad went 2-2 at UT-Arlington’s tournament and followed that up with another 2-2 performance at Wisconsin-Whitewater the next weekend. Alabama suffered a heartbreaker to Illinois and a loss to Arizona to open in Whitewater, but it is currently on a two-game winning streak with victories over SMSU and Wisconsin-Whitewater on the back half. Spain Paralympian Ignacio Ortega was excellent in the second tournament, averaging 31 points and 15.5 rebounds per game. Lindy Bridges also starred, recording 18.5 points per game in the four contests.


4. University of Missouri

Coming into the season as a national title contender, not much has been seen from Mizzou. Due to “unforeseen circumstances,” the Tigers had to cancel their season-commencing Mizzou Classic Tournament that was supposed to be played the weekend of Nov. 6. The schedule has yet to be released for Paralympic gold medal-winning head coach Ron Lykins and his team. Missouri gets bumped down one spot from its preseason ranking simply because of the excellence from Illinois.


5. University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

The Warhawks began the season on a resounding note, going 4-0 at the SMSU Tournament and defeating the host Mustangs twice. Whitewater then hosted its tournament, splitting the games it played. Then they beat SMSU once more by a resounding 24 points. Whitewater also defeated Arizona, but endured double-digit losses to Illinois and Alabama, respectively.

“We haven’t seen them in two years, and I give credit to them for having a good squad,” SMSU head coach Derek Klinkner said. “...They made more plays than we did. They executed obviously better than we did because they won the game and not going to take anything away from them, got to respect them as an opponent.”


6. Southwest Minnesota State

The Mustangs have stumbled out of the gates. They split the SMSU Tournament to begin the season, losing to Wisconsin-Whitewater twice and pummeling Edinboro twice, winning those games by an average margin of 55 points. SMSU struggled at the Wisconsin-Whitewater tournament, going 1-3 to bring its record to 3-5 overall this season. Its lone victory away from home came against Arizona, 62-52. Former All-American Walter Johnson is excelling for the Mustangs, averaging 27.4 points per game on 61.7% shooting from the field and 50% shooting from distance.


“The teams that have upperclassmen that have been around together are the ones that have had a little bit more success [so far],” Klinkner added. “Compared to us, we have Walter who’s been here for a few years, but the people around him are people that he hasn’t played basketball with a whole bunch up until this year.”


7. University of Arizona

Per the NWBA website, Arizona is 5-5 through 10 games, but only 2-5 against intercollegiate competition. The Wildcats split with Alabama but have losses to SMSU, UT-Arlington, Wisconsin-Whitewater, and Illinois. The only other intercollegiate triumph for Arizona is a 73-24 destruction of Eastern Washington. Through its first eight games, sophomore Justyn Newman, who is playing in college for the first time, led Arizona with 16.5 points per game. Sophomore Blaze Mutware, also a college first-timer, is averaging a double-double with 11.8 points and 11.8 rebounds per game.


“We’re just really showing our youth,” head coach Mike Beardsley said. “We got seven guys who, it’s their first time playing college basketball. I have two starters who are out right now with injuries. So, just showing youth, and I think that’s coming through with our turnovers and not really being able to react to situations like we should.”


8. Auburn University

It is hard to form a concrete picture of the Tigers. Auburn has played 11 games and have a 9-2 record, but has lost the only two games it has played against divisional opponents. Both losses came against Alabama in mid-October, losing by an average of 14.5 points per game. Auburn is on an eight-game winning streak against opponents from outside of the division, including the Rollin’ Hornets and Cast Iron.


9. Eastern Washington University

Having been founded in 2019, Eastern Washington is a fairly new program. The Eagles have lost all three divisional games they have played against UT-Arlington, Alabama, and Arizona, respectively. Led by head coach David Evjen, the program has been uncompetitive in its infancy stage.


10. Edinboro University

The Fighting Scots are in the gutter, sitting with a 1-8 record through nine games. Their only contests in the intercollegiate division were the blowout losses to SMSU. Edinboro won its first game of the season on Oct. 30 against the Rochester Wheels. Sophomore Gabe Warsing scored 19 points in the win.


11. University of Nebraska-Omaha

Nebraska-Omaha has yet to take the floor against an intercollegiate program this season, leaving them at the No. 11 spot. Head coach Mike Kult looks to get his team going at the turn of the calendar, as it hosts a tournament in mid-January featuring SMSU and UW-Whitewater.


12. City University of New York (CUNY)

CUNY took the floor for its first-ever collegiate game against the Brooklyn Nets on Nov. 19. Christopher St. Remy and Roger Shelton both had double-digits in the 51-28 win.