College Basketball: 6 Sleepers in the AP Top 25

Corey RuddContributor IIIDecember 19, 2012

College Basketball: 6 Sleepers in the AP Top 25

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    After Butler's upset win over the previously top-ranked Indiana Hoosiers, there was a major shake-up in the AP Top 25 this week. 

    Many of the traditional powers are scattered throughout the Top 25, including newly top-ranked Duke, along with Syracuse, Louisville and Georgetown, among others.

    Although Butler is well known because of their consecutive Final Four appearances in recent years, very few expected them to hang with—let alone beat—Indiana.

    So who are the sleepers to be aware of among those privileged enough to be recognized with college basketball's elite teams this week? 

    Here is a look at six over-looked sleepers currently ranked in the AP Top 25 of this still very young season. 

No. 17 Creighton Blue Jays

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    The Creighton Blue Jays have traditionally been one of those mid-major programs that could beat anybody on any given night. This year's Creighton club is no different and in fact, should be one of the hunted rather than the hunter. 

    Head coach Greg McDermott is blessed to have his own blood-line leading the charge in Omaha.

    McDermott's son, Doug, is one of the most prolific scorers in all of college basketball and is a load for even the most talented and athletic front-lines in the country. 

    The 6'8'' junior forward is averaging 23.7 points per game, which is third most in the country

    While Doug can clearly score, his father can certainly coach. 

    The Blue Jays are one of the most efficient teams in the country, ranking 7th in field goal percentage and 12th in assists. 

    Creighton has quality wins over Wisconsin and California this season and should continue to strengthen their overlooked resume in the tough Missouri Valley Conference. 

    Look for Creighton to continue to fly under the radar and be one of those teams you simply do not want to see in March. 

No. 13 Minnesota Golden Gophers

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    The only thing the casual fan may know about the Minnesota Golden Gophers is that they played in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament earlier this year, where they lost to top-ranked Duke. 

    Otherwise, Tubby Smith's team has been completely overlooked despite not losing any other games so far this season. 

    Minnesota has some very high quality wins already, beating Memphis and Stanford in their other two games in the Bahamas.

    The Golden Gophers are led offensively by sophomore guard Andre Hollins, who is scoring 13.5 points per game. 

    Another Hollins, although not related, Austin Hollins, is also having a great season scoring 11.2 points per game.

    One way or another, Minnesota may not be a sleeper for long, as Big 10 Conference play ramps up in a week.

    The Gophers will be tested often, as the conference is loaded from top to bottom and could lose their lofty ranking if they fall. Or, Minnesota could go on a run in the Big 10, which would lead everyone to recognize how good this year's team truly is. 

No. 12 Missouri Tigers

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    The Missouri Tigers are another team who competed in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament earlier this season and have just one mark on their resume—a loss to No. 5 Louisville. 

    Otherwise, Mizzou has been perfect this season despite having a barrage of newcomers playing under second-year coach Frank Haith for the first time. 

    Some overlooked the Tigers after they lost senior guard Michael Dixon, who decided to transfer. But others have picked up the slack, and Mizzou looks like they are just now starting to roll. 

    Junior point guard Phil Pressey is the star, averaging 12.3 points and 5.8 assists per game this season after being named Preseason SEC Player of the Year. 

    While Pressey is quite good, it is senior Laurence Bowers that makes this year's Mizzou engine go. The 6'9'' forward is coming off an ACL injury and is leading the Tigers with 16.3 points per game, while displaying an improved and possibly lethal inside-outside game. 

    Mizzou also recently received a shot in the arm this week, as sophomore Jabari Brown became eligible, giving the Tigers a much needed scoring threat. 

    Mizzou will find out a lot about themselves in the coming week with their Border War showdown with No. 10 Illinois in St. Louis. 

    But for now, Mizzou remains a sleeper because it's uncertain just how high their ceiling can be with their new pieces still coming together.

No. 24 Oklahoma State

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    The Oklahoma State Cowboys have started the season 8-1, with their only loss coming to a tough Virginia Tech team out of the ACC. 

    The Cowboys entered the Top 25 this week, but that is about all the attention the team out of Stillwater is receiving this season. 

    The Cowboys look to be a legitimate contender in the Big 12, however, and are led by explosive sophomore Le'Bryan Nash. The 6'7'' guard is averaging 16.6 points per game. 

    Freshman guard Marcus Smart leads the Cowboys with 7.0 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game and is managing to find time to score over 13 points per contest as well. 

    The Cowboys will have a strong test prior to the start of Big 12 Conference play when they host No.14 Gonzaga on New Year's Eve. 

    While the Cowboys' top players may be young, youth has not been a problem in recent NCAA history, and this year's team may be young and athletic enough to make some unexpected noise later in the season. 

No. 20 Michigan State Spartans

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    Calling Tom Izzo's bunch a sleeper may feel like a bit of stretch to some, considering the high profile of the program and the team's recent success in East Lansing. 

    But Izzo's boys seem to be flying under the radar, likely because of the crazy success of fellow Big 10 schools such as No. 2 Michigan, No. 6 Indiana, No. 7 Ohio State, and No. 10 Illinois.

    Izzo probably likes it this way. 

    Just like any typical Tom Izzo coached team, these Spartans play great defense and get after it on the boards. Michigan State has allowed over 70 or more points just once this season and are currently ranked 26th in the nation in rebounding. 

    Offensively the Spartans are led by junior guard Keith Appling, who is pouring in 15.5 points and dishing out 4.4 assists per game. 

    Only two other Spartans, Gary Harris (12.7 points) and Brandan Dawson (10.1 points), are averaging in double figures.

    Few are talking about Izzo's team, who have a 10-2 record on the season. But with Michigan State's rugged style of play and great defense, sleeping on the Spartans would be unwise. 

No. 9 Kansas Jayhawks

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    Just as it feels odd to see Michigan State on a list of sleepers, it feels even more strange to see Kansas. 

    Yet, Kansas is not receiving the same type of attention as the Jayhawks are accustomed to despite a robust 9-1 record, with their only loss coming to Michigan State. 

    With star Thomas Robinson gone, the glamour factor for the Jayhawks certainly decreases. But this year's Bill Self team can play. 

    Senior center Jeff Withey has been a beast in the middle, averaging 13.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, and an eye-popping 5.6 blocked shots per game.

    Seniors Travis Releford and Elijah Johnson have also made solid contributions and provided Self's club with quality leadership and experience. 

    While the seniors have played well for Kansas, it is a freshman that is making the headlines. 

    Newcomer Ben McLemore is leading the Jayhawks in scoring, knocking in 16.1 points per game.

    While Kansas has been mostly overlooked thus far this season, they will get a moment in the spotlight this weekend as they travel to No. 7 Ohio State for what should be a terrific showdown of top-ranked teams.