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  • Writer's pictureMolly Cooper

CBT's Updated Women's Wheelchair Rankings

It is that time of the year again. The snow is melting, flowers are blooming and the birds are chirping. And most importantly - it is time for the National Intercollegiate Wheelchair Basketball Tournament.

The University of Texas-Arlington will host this year’s tournament from March 17th-19th. It will take place in the College Place Center. You can watch the live streams of the tournament on UTA’s Movin’ Mavs Adaptive Sports Program site under the NIWBT tab.

Here are CBT’s current rankings:

1. Alabama

Recently, the 2020-2021 team received their national championship rings. The reigning champions come in hot into the tournament. The Crimson Tide holds a 23-3 overall record for the season. After winning the past two NIWB tournaments, the team hopes to go for a 3peat.

Defensively, this team excels and outsmarts the other teams. Head Coach Ryan Hynes wants the women to get their opponents to turn over the ball so they can quickly transition and make plays.

Players you need to watch out for are team captain, sophomore Mary Silberman, and Lindsey Zurburgg. On February 19, Silberman scored 23 points had seven rebounds and one steal in a game against Shepherd Stealers . Zurburgg led the team in three-point field goals by making three out of three. She scored 21 points in the Stealers game and tallied 5 rebounds.

The Tide’s toughest opponent if they meet up in the tournament will be Illinois. They only have one conference loss and the Fighting Illini gave it to them. It was an early-season 73-69 loss in November. The teams have met up four times throughout the season and the Tide are 3-1.

2. University of Illinois

The Fighting Illini is the main competition for taking the national champion title from the Crimson Tide. Led by outstanding 3 point shooter, Kady Dandeneau, she scored 21 out of 48 of her 3 point field goal attempts. Her overall field goal percentage was a whopping 61.1%.

Newcomer Ranley Clayton tore up the court for Illinois. She holds the second-highest field goal percentage amongst the team with 58.9%. She also excelled on the boards with 76 defensive rebounds.

Going into the tournament, opponents should be on the lookout for passes being made to Dandeneau and Clayton and putting a stop to it before they rack up the points.

3. University of Texas-Arlington

UTA put up a good fight this season coming out of a tough COVID season last year. In 2019, the Lady Movin Mav’s came out of the NIWB tournament as runners-up and plan on changing that this year.

Against the top teams, Texas-Arlington does not stop pushing. They have had a close game with the Crimson Tide losing by only one point. However, in the same tournament, the Tide rolled right over them with a 73-44 loss. In early February, they met up again and lost 73-54.

At the UT-Arlington tournament, Mavericks faced the Fighting Illini and lost 70-63.

For this NIWB tournament, the Lady Movin’ Mavs need to be on their A-game in order to stop Alabama and Illinois from making it to the finals.

4. University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

This season Whitewater lost Lindsey Zurbrugg, one of their best players, to Alabama. That caused the team to start from scratch and use this season as a rebuilding one.

In the early season rankings, Whitewater and the University of Arizona tied for fourth. However, in the last matchup on February 25th, Warhawks beat the Wildcats 49-36.

The Warhawks took on #2 Fighting Illini in December and lost 75-18. The teams met up again later in the season for two more games. In the first game, they lost 71-21. During the second game, they improved a little bit by fixing up their defense and deterring Illinois to score fewer baskets. The final result of the game was a loss of 69-37.

Though it will be a tough fight for the Warhawks to make it to the finals, you can never count out a team coached by Christina Schwab.

5. University of Arizona

The Wildcats struggled this season. Traveling to a UT-Arlington tournament on November 12 and 13, they played against the Crimson Tide twice and lost; however, they kept the scores close. In the first game, it was 57-41 and the second was 62-43.

On November 19th, Illinois defeated Arizona 59-47 and the teams met up again on the 20th where the game was not as close - the Wildcats lost 59-2. This past weekend the Wildcats competed in the UA Early College Classic and Samantha Gustafson scored 8 points - an impressive number considering it came against Alabama.

If the entire team stays on the same page and has a winning mentality, they could shock their opponents with the all the skills they have.

6. City University of New York

In the inaugural season, CUNY put up a fight, however, with the lack of preparation from the previous season they struggled to win games.

On February 12th, CUNY had their first game, competing against Wisconsin-Whitewater. They did well for their first collegiate game, however, it did not end how they wanted it. The Warhawks beat them 56-22. The next game they played the Fighting Illini and were unable to stop them. The score was 53-11.

Getting the opportunity to compete in this tournament will at a minimum serve CUNY as a learning experience.

In a last-chance tournament on March 4 through March 5, Alabama gave a preview into what might happen at the National Championship tournament. Illinois, Arizona and UTA competed this past weekend. Alabama swept the tournament winning all three of their games against the teams, Illinois fell to Alabama, 62-45, and beat Arizona (67-18). Next week we will be able to see these teams in action again and there might be some upsets or surprises.

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