The Mott Community College Bears bounced back Wednesday night, scoring the team’s second double-digit victory over Henry Ford this season, 73-62. The Bears now will have a week to prepare for Schoolcraft, the top team in the MCCAA.

Schoolcraft beat Oakland 88-82 in the marquee matchup of the season on Wednesday night. The Ocelots have won 11 games in a row. An upset win over Schoolcraft would all but assure the Bears a home game in the District 10 tournament in March.

Against Henry Ford (6-15), Mott played without its best player, freshman forward Daryl Bigham, who is nursing a stomach illness. Into the breach stepped 6-8 sophomore Darryl LeVert, who put in his best effort of the season. LeVert was energetic on both ends of the floor and dominant, at times, in the paint.

The Bears (15-8) trailed early in the game but put together a 9-0 run midway through the first half to take the lead. Henry Ford managed to stick around in the half and even took a one-point lead into halftime.

The second half was all Mott, led by Levert and freshman guard Malik Young. The pair combined for 37 points. LeVert added a season-high 19 rebounds and five assists. Tommie Johnson, a reserve wing, entered the starting lineup against Henry Ford and scored 12.

“It feels good to win,” Mott head coach Steve Schmidt told MRSN Radio. “There aren’t too many easy road games, and we’re struggling … we’re going to make the most out of it.”

The loss of Bigham to an illness, hopefully not a prolonged one, is just another in a long line of challenges for the team this season.

“Whatever could’ve gone wrong has gone wrong this season,” Schmidt said. “But, we have four more league games to go and we know anything can happen in college basketball.”

Listen to Mott’s game versus Schoolcraft at 7:30 p.m. next Wednesday on MRSN radio.

Mott Community College head coach Steve Schmidt has never sought shelter in the arms of moral victories. Not today; not ever.

“I’m proud of our program, proud of fans and our effort, but it’s still a loss,” said Schmidt after Mott’s 74-68 loss to rival Oakland. “We had a chance to win this right down to the wire … they are playing for a championship, so we knew they would play hard.”

Mott trailed by 12 at the half and by as many as 22 with 15 minutes left in the second half.

For the next 10 minutes, Schmidt had a flashback to what had been the norm in his program for years: high intensity on both ends of the floor.

The Bears embarked on a 14-0 run led by freshman Rod Milton, who had an 8-0 run of his own. With seven minutes left, Mott had whittled Oakland’s lead down to eight. Five minutes later, the lead had all but disappeared after a basket in the post by Daryl Bigham.

Mott couldn’t break through, however, as Oakland’s Richard Roberts went 4-for-4 from the foul line in the final 90 seconds.

“We did a good job down the stretch,” Schmidt said. “This is what I wanted to see from this team. We’ve gone through a lot. We’ve been taking steps forward and steps back. This is the most frustrating and challenging experience. I have a lot of guys who don’t yet know how to be successful.”

One of those guys is point guard Justice Green. The athletic freshman guard from Flint Carman-Ainsworth did not play against Oakland and has quit the team.

Milton led the way for Mott with 14 points. Austin Daniels added 11.

The loss is Mott’s third at home this season, the most home losses for the program since 2002. Mott (14-8) will take on Henry Ford on the road Wednesday night before welcoming league leader Schoolcraft College to Ballenger Fieldhouse on Saturday.

The game versus Schoolcraft will be broadcast live on

2014-15 Men’s Basketball Standings
Eastern Conference
School MCCAA Overall GB Home Away Neutral Streak
10 – Schoolcraft 10-1 .909 21-3 .875 12-0 8-2 1-1 Won 10
10 – Oakland 9-1 .900 15-5 .750 0.5 8-1 5-2 2-2 Won 7
Delta 7-4 .636 14-10 .583 3.0 7-6 7-4 0-0 Won 3
Mott 6-5 .545 14-8 .636 4.0 11-3 3-5 0-0 Lost 2
Wayne County 5-6 .455 12-10 .545 5.0 5-3 4-6 3-1 Lost 1
Macomb 5-6 .455 11-11 .500 5.0 6-5 4-4 1-2 Won 1
Alpena 3-8 .273 6-12 .333 7.0 1-6 4-4 1-2 Lost 3
St. Clair County 2-8 .200 9-13 .409 7.5 5-6 4-6 0-1 Lost 4
Henry Ford 1-9 .100 6-14 .300 8.5 3-6 3-7 0-1 Lost 3
Western Conference
School MCCAA Overall GB Home Away Neutral Streak
9 – Lake Michigan 9-2 .818 18-6 .750 10-3 7-3 1-0 Won 2
Muskegon 7-4 .636 17-6 .739 2.0 10-0 6-6 1-0 Lost 2
Grand Rapids 7-4 .636 13-8 .619 2.0 9-2 4-6 0-0 Won 3
Kalamazoo Valley 7-4 .636 12-12 .500 2.0 7-5 4-5 1-2 Lost 1
Lansing 6-4 .600 14-9 .609 2.5 10-2 4-6 0-1 Won 1
Ancilla 5-5 .500 14-9 .609 3.5 10-3 4-5 0-1 Won 1
Glen Oaks 2-8 .200 9-12 .429 6.5 6-3 3-9 0-0 Won 1
Jackson 2-8 .200 8-14 .364 6.5 6-6 2-8 0-0 Lost 4
Kellogg 2-8 .200 3-16 .158 6.5 1-4 2-9 0-3 Lost 3
9 – NJCAA District 9 Qualifer
10 – NJCAA District 10 Qualifier

Mott’s hopes of turning the season around and making a run at another conference title were drowned in the chilly depths of the Detroit River Wednesday night.

The Bears’ three-game winning streak was snapped by Wayne County, 74-55, in downtown Detroit. This was the most lopsided defeat for Mott in over five years (January 9, 2010 versus Henry Ford). What’s worse? Mott welcomes first-place Oakland Community College to Ballenger Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon.

The loss all but assures that Mott will not be a contender for the Eastern Conference championship this season. The Bears are now tied with Delta for third place in the east, fully three games behind Oakland and Schoolcraft in the loss column.

For Mott’s hall of fame head coach, Steve Schmidt, fame sounded more like shame after the game.

“We got it handed to us tonight,” Schmidt told MRSN radio. “This is just out of character. I’m really embarrassed right now. I’ve been coaching a long time. There’s a bigger picture here that our guys haven’t picked up yet.”

Schmidt took full responsibility for his team’s lack of effort and focus, a full season’s worth of frustration and still over a month left to play.

“This team hasn’t bought in from day one, and I have to take ownership of that,” he said.

Schmidt started the season behind the eight ball after not inviting back a single player from last season’s 25-6 team; the year before that the program finished 31-5 and eighth in the country. That said, he was not at all impressed with the work ethic of his freshmen class — on or off the court — and elected to start from scratch.

Wednesday night, Mot trailed by 12 at the half and by as many as 21 early in the second half. The Bears responded with a 10-0 run, a burst of energy that was short-lived.

Daryl Bigham led Mott (14-7) with 19 points. Justice Green added 11.

Barring an upset over Oakland on Saturday, Mott is assured of earning its worst win-loss record since the 2002-2003 season. The game will be broadcast live at starting at 3 p.m.

MCCAA Standings as of Feb. 5, 2015

Eastern Conference
School MCCAA Overall GB Home Away Neutral Streak
Schoolcraft 9-1 .900 20-3 .870 11-0 8-2 1-1 Won 9
Oakland 8-1 .889 14-5 .737 0.5 8-1 4-2 2-2 Won 6
Mott 6-4 .600 14-7 .667 3.0 11-2 3-5 0-0 Lost 1
Delta 6-4 .600 13-10 .565 3.0 7-6 6-4 0-0 Won 2
Wayne County 5-5 .500 12-9 .571 4.0 5-3 4-5 3-1 Won 2
Macomb 4-6 .400 10-11 .476 5.0 5-5 4-4 1-2 Lost 6
Alpena 3-7 .300 6-11 .353 6.0 1-5 4-4 1-2 Lost 2
St. Clair County 2-7 .222 9-12 .429 6.5 5-6 4-5 0-1 Lost 3
Henry Ford 1-9 .100 6-14 .300 8.0 3-6 3-7 0-1 Lost 3
Western Conference
School MCCAA Overall GB Home Away Neutral Streak
Lake Michigan 8-2 .800 17-6 .739 9-3 7-3 1-0 Won 1
Muskegon 7-3 .700 17-5 .773 1.0 10-0 6-5 1-0 Lost 1
Kalamazoo Valley 7-3 .700 12-11 .522 1.0 7-5 4-4 1-2 Won 4
Lansing 6-4 .600 14-9 .609 2.0 10-2 4-6 0-1 Won 1
Grand Rapids 6-4 .600 12-8 .600 2.0 8-2 4-6 0-0 Won 2
Ancilla 4-5 .444 13-9 .591 3.5 9-3 4-5 0-1 Lost 1
Jackson 2-7 .222 8-13 .381 5.5 6-6 2-7 0-0 Lost 3
Kellogg 2-7 .222 3-15 .167 5.5 1-3 2-9 0-3 Lost 2
Glen Oaks 1-8 .111 8-12 .400 6.5 6-3 2-9 0-0 Lost 6

FLINT, Michigan – Mott’s third straight win was anything but charming. The Bears turned away Alpena on Saturday afternoon in Flint, 74-60.

Leave it to Mott head coach Steve Schmidt to be angry about a 14-point conference win, but that’s his style; he’s almost never satisfied. Schmidt has not been happy with his team’s consistent inability to play a complete game this season. That was on full display Saturday.

Schmidt spent much of the game barking at his players for seemingly going in and out of consciousness on the floor, missing assignments, failing to box out and not getting after loose balls. At one point, he stopped freshman guard Austin Daniels with a question: “Are you OK?”

For short bursts, the team looked inspired on the defensive end. It wasn’t long, though, before they simply looked like they were mailing it in.

“I’m not happy with the demeanor of the guys,” Schmidt said. “I’m not happy with the effort. It’s a good win against a team we should beat, but I had some guys who just weren’t here. That’s all I’m going to say.”

There’s little doubt that Schmidt was reacting to the manner in which he team handled the game’s final four minutes. The Bears put their guard down and turned what should have been a dominant 25-point win into an outcome that leaves something to be desired.

It could have been a lot worse for the visiting Lumberjacks, but the home team didn’t roll out of bed until midway through the first half. The Bears, sparked by freshman wing Tommie Johnson, went on an 11-2 run to end the half up a dozen, 32-20.

Alpena is a much-improved team this season, scoring wins over Delta, Wayne County and Henry Ford this season. Without the services of Tristan Howard, the team’s top guard, the Lumberjacks could not handle the Bears’ pressure early in the second half. Just six minutes in, a 3-pointer by freshman guard Malik Young put the Bears up 23. It capped an 18-5 run by the Bears.

With Schmidt’s team fully in his comfort zone scoring points of turnovers, Mott didn’t slow the pace of play down until inside of four minutes left, still up 21. Setting aside the less-than-stellar effort to close out this game, the Bears are starting hit their stride on the defensive end. Mott has surrendered 67 or less points in five of their last six games.

Stephan Shepherd led all scorers with 24 points for Alpena (6-10).

Daryl Bigham led four Bears in double figures with 19. Young and Johnson scored 13 apiece. Justice Green added 11.

Mott will look to extend its winning streak to four on Wednesday night on the road against Wayne County. The Bears cannot afford to look ahead toward their showdown next Saturday at home versus Oakland.

Steve Schmidt's team knocked off Macomb on Wednesday night, 71-67. The Bears have now won two straight games after dropping their previous two.

Steve Schmidt’s team knocked off Macomb on Wednesday night, 71-67. The Bears have now won two straight games and should make it three Saturday against Alpena at home.

FLINT, Michigan — The Mott Community Bears returned to old form on Wednesday night, forcing three turnovers in the pivotal final two minutes to beat Macomb, 71-67.

The Bears led by two at the half and returned to the floor determined to pressure the ball. Mott threw everything but the proverbial kitchen sink at the Monarchs in the half, taking advantage of their opponent’s relative weakness in the backcourt. The Bears held Macomb to just 11-for-30 from the field in the half and forced seven turnovers.

Mott head coach Steve Schmidt was encouraged by the defensive effort in the half, but isn’t quite ready to say his team is ready for prime time.

“That was more like Mott has played traditionally,” Schmidt said. “We pressed and gave different looks defensively. That said, we’re still a work in progress … this is our fourth game in eight days, and we’re getting better.”

Mott led by as many as nine points with seven minutes to go in the game before a basket by Macomb’s Elijah Carter cut the Bears’ lead to one with just less than two minutes to go. Mott did not allow the Monarchs to score another point.

After both teams traded turnovers on four consecutive possessions, Mott’s Daryl Bigham got loose in transition, drew a foul, and made both free throws. In the game’s waning seconds, Mott guard Malik Young made one of two free throws to put the game out of reach.

Mott desperately needed to win this game in regulation, as their top two forwards (Bigham and Darryl LeVert) had four fouls apiece and their next man up (Matt Place) had already fouled out. Place, who sets the bar for effort on this team, received quite an ovation after he earned his fifth foul.

“That was the best ovation from fans for a kid who fouled out that I can remember,” Schmidt said.

The veteran coach also complimented Macomb and lauded the parity in the conference this season. There isn’t one great team in the conference, but there really aren’t any scrubs, either.

“I can’t remember a time when so many teams were capable of beating each other any given night,” he said. “Fortunately for us, I don’t think this conference has been won by anybody yet.”

The play of the game came with five minutes left in the second half, when LeVert slammed home a tip-dunk that brought fans to their feet and put the Bears up seven.

Brandon Hicks led Macomb (10-9) with 18 points and six rebounds. Chris Dorsey added 15 points and five rebounds.

Bigham led Mott (13-6) with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Levert, Justice Green and Austin Daniels added 11 points apiece.

Mott will return to action at 3 p.m. Saturday at home versus Alpena. This month, the ‘Jacks have scored wins over Wayne County, Delta, Mid-Michigan and Henry Ford. The game can be heard live on the Michigan Regional Sports Network, at

Mott freshman Daryl Bigham goes for two against Delta College Saturday afternoon. (Gerry Leslie photo)

Mott freshman Daryl Bigham goes for two against Delta College Saturday afternoon. (Gerry Leslie photo)

FLINT, Michigan — Mott Community College hadn’t lost back-to-back games since 2008. That all changed on Saturday afternoon, as Mott fell to Delta College, 59-55.  The Bears are now 11-6 on the season and on track for the program’s worst season since the Y2K scare.

The program’s long track record of success, unmatched at this level, makes back-to-back losses feel catastrophic. Perhaps fans shouldn’t blow it out of proportion, but this team is quickly becoming forgettable in the grand scheme of all things Mott. This is a program that could count conference home losses over a 10-year period on one hand (the same hand studded with four national championship rings).

I’m starting to think this is the curse of Ralph Eason. The Lions have Bobby Layne, the Red Sox have the Bambino and the Bears have Ralph. The program hasn’t been the same since he ended his career at Mott one year too soon.

There was actually a little positivity in the air prior to Saturday’s opening tip, as Mott finally dressed a full roster for the first time since early November. The Bears’ best guard, freshman Justice Green, returned to the lineup, albeit in a more limited role that he is accustomed to.

The Bears dressed 11 players including reserve forward Andrew Miller, who made his first appearance in the gold and black. It was all for not, however, as Delta appeared to be the better team throughout the contest, sustaining a late 10-2 run by the Bears, and holding on for the win.

“We had a full roster, but it hurt our chemistry,” Mott head coach Steve Schmidt told MRSN Radio after the game. “We’re going to continue to battle, because that’s what we do.”

This game was another example of something that has happened far too often in the last couple seasons: the team playing “Mott basketball” wasn’t Mott. Delta was more aggressive, played with more intensity and was much more physical.

Delta led almost the entire first half, but the Bears cut their lead to two at the break. Mott actually led by four midway through the second half and then again by one with three minutes left.

The biggest play in the game came with just 25 seconds left and the game knotted at 55. Delta’s Markell Bradshaw hoisted up a desperation 3-pointer as the shot clock expired that hit nothing but net. That sealed it for the Pioneers, who improved to 11-9 on the season. Bradshaw and Julian Henderson led Delta with 18 points apiece.

The only brights spots for Mott were forwards Daryl Bigham and Rod Milton. The pair combined for 31 points and 16 rebounds. Malik Young added 11 including three triples. As a team, the Bears shot a paltry 39 percent from the field.

There are too many games left on the schedule to completely write off this season. That said, we know enough about this team to temper our expectations. This is not a championship-caliber team, and certainly not one to intimidate even a middle-of-the-road opponent.

After the game, Schmidt said there’s no quit in the Mott Bears. One problem: these are not the Mott Bears of old. There’s plenty of quit in this team. There’s also a precious little care for the outcome of the game, something one cannot help but notice. If your fans care more than your players, there’s a big problem.

Four of Mott’s next five game are against teams with .500 or better records. Now would be a really good time to show the rest of the conference you belong.

The Bears have a quick turnaround before Monday night’s game on the road against St. Clair.

For better or worse, Saturday Steve Schmidt will turn in his final draft. Mott’s head coach told MRSN radio after Wednesday night’s 67-60 loss to Schoolcraft that Mott’s game versus Delta on Saturday will finally bring to a close a season full of uncertainty. The drafts, to this point, have been rough. Very rough.

“The next time you see this team, you’ll see what our team will be from here on out,” Schmidt said.

This, with little doubt, will go down as the veteran coach’s most physically and emotionally draining season of his distinguished caeer. Fortunately, there’s still time to turn it around.

Mott started the season with only 11 players and, due to issues off the court and in the classroom, have dressed between seven and nine players most nights. That’s about to change.

The Bears will add former Davison (MI) High School standout forward Andrew Miller to the roster this week and may round out the roster with a member of the school’s baseball team. The 6-foot-6 Miller scored double figures in 15 of his 21 games with the Cardinals as a senior.

Schmidt added that he hopes his star point guard, Justice Green, will handle his business in the classroom and return to the team this week. The Bears need him desperately if they are going to circle the wagons.

Against Schoolcraft, Mott played a miserable first half. For long stretches, the Bears simply couldn’t buy a basket and trailed by 13 at the half.

A different team came out of the locker room in the second, as the Bears shot 56 percent as a team and actually cut the Ocelets’ lead to four midway through the half. The Bears failed to get stops on a consistent basis in the game’s final minutes and finally succumbed to a better team.

“That’s a really good team, a tough team to play on the road,” Schmidt said. “But we competed. I’m proud of the way our guys competed, especially in the second half.”

The Ocelets (16-3) currently hold the best record in the MCCAA.

Mott (11-5) was led by Daryl Bigham’s 21 points and four rebounds. Darryl LeVert added 10 points and 10 rebounds.

The Bears will return to action at 3 p.m. on Saturday against a Delta squad fresh off a one-point loss against Oakland.

Things didn’t start as planned on Wednesday night for the no. 17-ranked Bears at home. Mott didn’t score a two-point basket until five minutes into the game against longtime rival Henry Ford Community College. Fortunately, by that point, freshman guard Malik Young had already connected on his first three 3-point attempts.

Young was the lone bright spot in the first half as the Bears trailed early, clawed back to lead by one at the break, and clipped the Hawks’ wings in the second half to win, 73-54.

“It was a little ugly there at first,” Schmidt told MRSN radio after the game. “But wins are pretty.”

The Bears (11-4) didn’t wrestle away the led from the hawks until a 3-pointer by sophomore Darryl Levert with a minute left in the half gave Mott their one-point lead.The second half was a bloodbath for Henry Ford. Mott completely demoralized the undermanned Hawks, who came into the game with only five players. Both teams were shorthanded, due to injuries, illnesses and academic shortcomings. Mott dressed eight players, an upgrade from the team’s seven-man outing on Saturday afternoon at Oakland.”It’s a weird thing that’s going on in college athletics right now,” Schmidt said. “There’s no excuse for us to have only eight players; there’s no excuse for them just to have just five. We all have to do better.”

The Bears completely wore down the Hawks in the second half, extending their lead to 14 on a triple by Tommie Johnson just nine minutes into the half. Six minutes later, the Bears led by 23 after a basket in the lane by freshman Rod Milton.

The win Wednesday night was just what the doctor ordered, as the Bears now have a week to get healthy for the showdown versus Schoolcraft College. The Ocelets currently have the best overall record in the league at 13-3. There’s a great deal of parity in the league this year, so don’t count out the Bears just yet.

“Coming off a tough loss, we needed a win,” Schmidt said. “We’re going to bounce back and start playing Mott basketball.”

Daryl Bigham once again led Mott (11-4) in scoring with 21 points. Milton added 16.

The game versus Schoolcraft will be on the road next Wednesday night.

You can listen to the game live on starting at 7:30 p.m.

Hopes were high as Mott returned to action on Saturday afternoon against rival Oakland with the team’s best forward, Daryl Bigham, back in the lineup. The freshman from Detroit missed the last two games (both wins) after getting suspended for committing a flagrant foul in an overtime loss to Owens last month.

With a full roster, the Bears were primed to make another statement against one of the top teams in the MCCAA. As it turned out, it was another disappointing turn of events as Oakland knocked off Mott, 81-73. The loss is the Bears’ first of the conference season.

The Bears played the game without their top guard, freshman Justice Green and freshman forward Tommie Johnson. Mott’s remaining guards, Malik Young and Austin Daniels, drew two fouls apiece in the half and the third, Ray Ray Lewis, was injured. Even so, Mott trailed by only three at the half after a less-than-stellar 20 minutes for either team.

Lewis managed to return early in the second half after Daniels drew his third foul, but the damage was done. The Bears trailed by 13 and head coach Steve Schmidt simply didn’t have the troops to forge a comeback. Oakland went on a 21-9 run to start the second and led by as many as 16 in the half.

The Bears didn’t thrown in the towel, however; they made a run late in the half. A jumper by Lewis inside of six minutes left in the game cut Oakland’s lead to eight. Mott cut the lead to as few as six before Oakland once again rose to the occasion with timely baskets in the paint and second chance points.

After the game, Mott head coach Steve Schmidt told MRSN radio that he was pleased with the effort of most of his players against a good team in a tough environment.

“We showed a lot of heart with only seven guys available today,” he said. “I thought we played our hearts out. It hurts not having a couple kids, but that’s the situation we put ourselves in … we will battle back.”

Mott had a couple notable players struggle in the game. Young did not score in the game. Freshman forward Darryl LeVert scored seven but failed to score in the second half.

Bigham led all scorers with 32 points and 15 rebounds in his return to the team. Small forward Rod Milton added 20.

The status of Green and Johnson is still up in the air, but obviously Mott needs them back as soon as possible to stay in the hunt for the conference championship.

Mott returns to action at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night at home versus Henry Ford CC. The rematch with Oakland comes Saturday, February 7 at Ballenger Fieldhouse.

No. 14-ranked Mott scores victory over Wayne County, 73-58

Posted: January 7, 2015 by Jared Field in JUCO, Mott
Mott freshman Justice Green scores two of his game-high 17 points Wednesday night in a win over Wayne County. (Gerry Leslie photo)

Mott freshman Justice Green scores two of his game-high 17 points Wednesday night in a win over Wayne County. (Gerry Leslie photo)

FLINT, Michigan — No Bigham, no big deal.

No. 14-ranked Mott scored a huge 73-58 victory over Wayne County Wednesday night despite losing the services of their best forward, Darryl Bigham, to suspension. Bigham had to sit out after earning a flagrant (2) foul in the overtime loss to Owens on December 29 (he also sat out Mott’s road win over Alpena Monday night). Mott dressed eight players. Wayne County dressed 17.

The teams went back and forth in a first half that produced four ties and 20 (not a typo) lead changes. The Bears led by a single point at the half despite a mere two points out of 6-7 sophomore forward Darryl LeVert. LeVert struggled all game to get position in the post against Wayne’s stronger, more physical frontline.

The stage was set for high drama in the second half, but it never came to fruition. After a brief battle, Mott scored 25 of the game’s next 36 points to extend their lead to double-figures. The Bears led by as many as 17 in the half and cruised to victory.

Freshman point guard Justice Green turned in an excellent all-around performance for Mott with 17 points, six assists and three steals. His did his best John Taylor impression, scoring on some very low-percentage shots in the lane. Rod Milton added 12 points and five rebounds. LeVert and Tommie Johnson added 10 apiece.

Ashton Curd led Wayne with 15 points. The Wildcats fall to 8-5 on the season, but are still considered among the top teams in the MCCAA Eastern Conference.

Mott improves to 10-3 on the season ahead of Saturday’s showdown on the road against Oakland.

Under the circumstances, this was a huge win for the Bears. Without Bigham, this was a textbook trap game for the Bears. Kudos to head coach Steve Schmidt and his staff for having this team ready to play. It’s still early, but this team truly controls its own destiny in the MCCAA Eastern Conference. A win on Saturday would go a long way toward getting this program back in the championship conversation.