Kansas is No. 1, because, well, let Coach Bill Self put it in his words.
"Somebody's got to do it," he said.
"We haven't done anything to deserve being ranked No. 1. I don't know, really, who has.
"Since we were the highest-ranked team after four teams got beat in front of us, we got that honor."
Just like that, only three games into his tenure as the Jayhawk coach, after leaving Illinois to succeed Roy Williams when he went to North Carolina, Self has the top team in the nation.
The ranking was earned partly on the strength of defeating then-No. 3 Michigan State, and probably partly because Kansas reached the NCAA title game last season, even though Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich are gone from that team.
"Our ranking, I know we're beneficiaries, if you want to call it that, of past seasons' performances," Self said.
The Jayhawks will be putting that No. 1 ranking on the line today against No. 21 Stanford in the second game of the Wooden Classic at the Arrowhead Pond.
Stanford, also 3-0, looks as if it might deserve a much higher ranking than it has, even though standout Josh Childress has yet to play because of a stress reaction in his left foot that is expected to keep him out at least until later this month.
"Based on watching their tape, they look really good to me," Self said
"You're going to have two potential top-10 teams playing, I really believe that."
Stanford Coach Mike Montgomery welcomes the chance to play Kansas, but he doesn't enjoy recalling the last time the teams met, in the second round of the 2002 NCAA tournament.
Kansas, on its way to the Final Four with a team that had Drew Gooden, Collison and Hinrich, jumped to a 15-0 lead and won, 86-63.
"They just physically handled us. It wasn't much fun," Montgomery said.
"It's a different game, different coach, different situation, but still we know we've stepped up here in competition.
"We've had a couple of road wins, and any time you win on the road I'm pleased. But the obvious thing is we're now playing a team where the talent level goes way up. The kids we played at Irvine and Rice do the same things, work as hard, but they're just not as talented. It's just a fact. Kansas is very, very talented."
Guard Keith Langford leads the team with a 20.3-point average, and forward Wayne Simien is second at 18.3 points and 7.7 rebounds a game.
Starting guard Michael Lee is out six to eight weeks because of a broken collarbone, and has been replaced in the lineup by freshman J.R. Giddens, giving the Jayhawks two freshmen in the starting five. The other is 6-11 center David Padgett.
Don't feel too sorry for Kansas, though: Both were McDonald's All-Americans in high school.
(Kansas has another freshman with a notable bio: Reserve guard Omar Wilkes is the son of Jamaal Wilkes, the former UCLA and Laker star.)
Stanford, with two seniors and two juniors in the starting five, is a veteran team and has played well despite the absence of Childress, partly because of phenomenal shooting by point guard Chris Hernandez.
Hernandez, who sat out most of last season because of foot injuries and is playing with bulging discs in his back, is averaging 15 points and shooting 64.3% from three-point range after making nine of his first 14. He also averages five assists and only two turnovers.
Playing No. 1 is nothing new to Stanford, which has faced a top-ranked team 28 times but lost 25 -- most of the losses against UCLA over the years.
Still, the Cardinal has won two of its last three games against No. 1 teams.
Casey Jacobsen made a shot in the final seconds to upset Duke at the Pete Newell Challenge in 2000, and last season guard Matt Lottich led an upset of Arizona at Tucson.
"To have a chance to play the No. 1 team is always a great opportunity you don't get that often," Montgomery said. "I know Coach Self understands that whole thing is a little bit fleeting and a lot about circumstances, but nonetheless they are No. 1 and we get a chance to come out and compete."