Weekly Tipoff: Which team is the fastest riser in the last few weeks?

Could Tim Miles' Nebraska team be headed to the NCAA Tournament?
Weekly Tipoff: Which team is the fastest riser in the last few weeks?

It happens every basketball season around this time.

Just when you think you’ve got the NCAA Tournament bubble figured out, a few teams make a run late in the season to be considered.

Some of those teams will prove to be on a hot streak, returning to earth in the coming weeks. Others will go into the conference tournaments ready needing only a game or two to fill the final slots on the bracket.

Our staff wonders who that team could be this season.

College Football's Top 10 Quarterbacks on the Rise for 2014

North Carolina's Marquise Williams is a player to watch next year.
College Football's Top 10 Quarterbacks on the Rise for 2014

With spring practice already underway for some college football teams, the countdown to the 2014 season has officially started. There’s still a long way to go before August and the season opener, but it’s never too early to start thinking about which players are ready for a big jump in production.

Top 10 Big 12 Linebackers of the BCS Era

Athlon Sports ranks the best Big 12 linebackers of the BCS Era.
Top 10 Big 12 Linebackers of the BCS Era

The Bowl Championship Series is dead. But even the harshest of BCS detractors must acknowledge that the 16-year run was arguably the best era of college football in the history of the sport.

Ranking the Best Coaching Tandems in the SEC

Football-centric league makes for some lopsided pairings
Ranking the Best Coaching Tandems in the SEC for 2014

When we started this series on the top coaching tandems, we knew it would be tough, especially given our guiding principle that the football coach and the basketball coaches should be considered to be on equal footing

For most schools, they’re not. Especially in the SEC.

We set out to determine the coaching tandems able to keep fans happy from the start of football season to the end of basketball season.

Weekly Tipoff: Who is the No. 2 candidate for player of the year?

After Doug McDermott, the field for the nation's second-best player is up for grabs
Weekly Tipoff: Who is the No. 2 candidate for player of the year?

This season will not be a repeat of J.J. Redick vs. Adam Morrison. Or Jimmer Fredette vs. Kemba Walker.

Creighton’s Doug McDermott is the clear frontrunner for national player of the year honors as one of the nation’s leading scorers for the leader in a major conference.

That’s a testament to McDermott’s season, but also a reflection of the rest of the field. This season has seen some great players, especially in the freshman ranks, but not all of them have been consistent enough to rival McDermott for postseason honors.

Encouraging NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie crop looks to Daytona

Young hires filled with potential trump vets in "other half" of Cup garage
How this season's pack of talented NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookies will shape up against others who have come before them in the Daytona 500.

At Daytona International Speedway, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage is split into two sections. The plum positioning — garage stalls closer to restrooms and track entry and exit — are given out based on last year’s final point standings. A quick lap around what DIS dubs the “Sprint Fan Zone” will point out the obvious: It segregates the haves and the have-nots in NASCAR’s money-making division at a time in the sport where the delineation between the two has never been greater.

2014 NASCAR Driver Profile: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Focus and consistency still ride with Earnhardt; so where are the wins?
2014 driver profile for Dale Earnhardt Jr.on the NASCR Sprint Cup circuit.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has spent much of his career failing to live up to expectations. At this point, fans are preconditioned to believe that NASCAR’s favorite son will never win a championship with Hendrick Motorsports. But a funny thing happened on the way to Earnhardt riding out his career as NASCAR’s Most Popular Disappointment: He ditched the plotline.  Dale Earnhardt Jr.

2014 NASCAR Driver Profile: Jimmie Johnson

Johnson has Petty, Earnhardt, in his sights
2014 driver profile for Jimmie Johnson on the NASCR Sprint Cup circuit.

From Five-Time, to Six-Pack, to ... best ever? It might be a bit early for that, but there’s no question that Jimmie Johnson belongs in the conversation. His 2013 championship gives him six and places the California native just one short of the Cup Series record, held by two of the sport’s immortals, Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. Sixty-six career wins are good for eighth all-time, and at age 38, he’s left that total plenty of room to grow.

2014 NASCAR Driver Profile: Jeff Gordon

Can Gordon pull the career equivalent of a walk-off home run?
2014 driver profile for Jeff Gordon on the NASCR Sprint Cup circuit.

Unpredictable. Unprecedented. Messy. Yet, at times, borderline miraculous. All of these words applied to four-time champion Jeff Gordon in perhaps the craziest season of his career. He almost won a few times. He got wrecked — a lot. He missed the Chase. Then he made the Chase. He was counted out as a contender. Then he made himself one. He won a race, putting himself in position for perhaps NASCAR’s biggest asterisk … only to run 38th and flop the very next week. He limped home sixth in points, his best showing since 2009.

2014 NASCAR Driver Profile: Kasey Kahne

Consistency is key to Kahne's 2014 campaign
2014 driver profile for Kasey Kahne on the NASCR Sprint Cup circuit.

What Kasey Kahne needs most heading into the 2014 NASCAR season is a little luck. He couldn’t seem to find much of it in 2013 and, as a result, finished a distant 12th in the Chase standings. Entering the season among the title favorites, Kahne instead was caught in a tale of two extremes. When things were going right, he climbed as high as second in points, collecting trophies at both Bristol and Pocono along the way. But when they weren’t, the field blew by, including teammates Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.