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  • Writer's pictureSam Oshtry

CBT's Men's Wheelchair Rankings

The intercollegiate men’s basketball wheelchair regular season has wrapped up and the tournament is set to begin this Thursday. The first four seeds get a bye in the first round.

In the final few weeks of the season clear contenders emerged but there are plenty of teams in the conference who are worthy of earning that coveted national championship.

These rankings are not the final standings, rather our estimation of the top teams in the league.

1. University of Texas-Arlington

UT-Arlington has put together a phenomenal second half of the season and has jumped one spot to the top of the rankings. They emerged as the clear team to beat and finished first in the final standings of the season. UTA has impressive wins over some of the best teams in the league, including Illinois, Missouri and Alabama. Although UTA lost to Auburn towards the end of the season, that does not impact its entire body of work. UTA is the team to beat entering the playoffs. They get a bye in the opening round but will face the winner of Missouri/CUNY in the second round as they look to defend the title from last season.

2. University of Alabama

While Alabama has still had its share of success in the closing weeks of the season, we’ve moved it back to No. 2 in the latest rankings. Alabama also sits at No. 2 in the final standings entering the playoffs. Alabama finished the season strong with wins over Missouri, Illinois and Wisconins-Whitewater down the stretch of the season. The Crimson Tide are certainly worthy contenders when the tournament begins this week and while they haven’t won the national championship since 2019, they are desperate to get back on top. Alabama also has a bye in the first round and will take on the winner of Auburn/Nebraska-Omaha in the second round.

3. University of Wisconsin at Whitewater

While Wisconin-Whitewater sits in fourth place in the final league standings, they remain at No. 3 in our rankings. Illinois might have a better overall record, but Whitewater has proven they can compete with the top of the league. In the final few weeks of the season, Whitewater captured wins over Auburn, Missouri and Illinois, despite later falling to Illinois in a rematch. They may not be a top 3-seed, but when it’s all said and done, don’t be surprised if Whitewater is hoisting the trophy. They have a bye in the first round and will play the winner of Southwest Minnesota State/Edinboro.

4. Illinois

After a remarkable start to the season, where Illinois dominated its opening weekend tournament with a 4-0 finish, the fighting Illini struggled against stiff competition in the conference. In the final month of the season Illinois defeated Wisconsin-Whitewater and Missouri. However, they struggled against ALabama and UTA whenever they faced them this season. Illinois is third in the overall standings, but landed at four in our ranking. Illinois will play the winner of Arizona/Eastern Washington in the second round.

“This is one of the most talented, if not the most talented groups I’ve ever coached here at Illinois,” Illinois head coach Matthew Buchi said. “It’s my goal now not to incorporate new things or teach new things but just polish what we have and let them play basketball.”

5. Southwest Minnesota State University

Southwest Minnesota State did not play a game the first two months of the season, but have come back and impressed in the latter part of the year. While they have losses to some of the best teams in the conference, SMSU has remained in the middle of the pack with wins over Wisconsin-Whitewater, Illinois and CUNY. SMSU will play Edinboro in the first round of the tournament.

6. Auburn

Auburn gets the sixth spot in the rankings despite earning the seventh seed in the tournament. Head coach Robb Taylor has this program on the ascent and this could be the year the Tigers make a deep run. Auburn has been steady throughout the season, but in the last weekend of the season they picked up an impressive one-point win over Missouri that has this team playing well at the right time of the year. Auburn will face the University of Nebraska-Omaha in the first round.

7. Arizona

Arizona comes in at No. 7 in the latest ranking but is the sixth seed in the tournament. Arizona started the season strong, but went on a four game losing streak in the middle of the year. The Wildcats bounced back with solid wins over Alabama and Eastern Washington, yet found themselves playing in the opening round against Eastern Washington.

8. Missouri

Missouri did not start the season when they were supposed to due to numerous complications both logistically and related to COVID. Once they did they began to assert themselves as another contender in the conference. They opened the season with a 3-1 opening weekend in January. Since then, they have suffered losses to Wisconsin-Whitewater, Illinois and Alabama. They are the eighth seed in the tournament and will play CUNY in the first round.

9. CUNY (City University of New York)

CUNY is in its first season competing in the intercollegiate men’s conference and while its certainly not a major contender in the league, they have impressed in their debut season. CUNY played a shorter schedule than most of the other teams, but still had two impressive wins over Edinboro to earn them the ninth seed in our rankings and the tournament. They will play Missori in the first round.

10. University of Nebraska-Omaha

Nebraska-Omaha has had various tournaments and games canceled throughout the season, so they have not played a long or hard schedule. It’s unclear whether they are a threat once the tournament begins, but they are the 10th seed and will play Auburn in the opening round.

11. Eastern Washington

Eastern Washington struggled down the stretch of the season, losing to a Division III program and failing to pick up a divisional win. The program was founded in 2019, so it is still finding its footing in the conference. Nonetheless, they are the 11th seed and will play Arizona in the first round.

12. Edinboro University

In last place in the conference is Edinboro, who will have a tall hill to climb to make some noise in the tournament. Edinboro started the season 1-8 and continued to fall in the standings with two losses to CUNY later in the season landing them in last place in the conference. Edinboro will play Southwest Minnesota State in the opening round.

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