Kansas University’s return to No. 1 in the polls wasn’t cause for celebration in the Jayhawk locker room on Monday.
It was business as usual for a team that occupied the top spot in the 2009-10 preseason and the first eight weeks of the regular season, only to give way to Texas and Kentucky the last three weeks.
“That’s cool,” KU sophomore forward Marcus Morris said of being ranked No. 1 by both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today.
“I mean of course I like being No. 1, who wouldn’t? That’s not our main focus now. It’s to get better day in and out.”
KU received 54 first-place votes from the 65-member national AP media panel and 26 of 31 first-place votes in the USA Today/ESPN poll.
“I got a text from one of my friends early today saying we were No. 1. I hadn’t even looked. If you are playing well, it comes with the territory,” junior guard Tyrel Reed said. “We are excited, but it’s not the rankings. We just want to win the league right now.
“I don’t know if we are deserving of it or not. I think we are. We’ve had a good year. It’s really not the No. 1 ranking that matters. It’s nice we’re getting better and playing well,” Reed added.
Coach Bill Self has said all along that rankings don’t matter much. A champion will be decided via the NCAA Tournament this spring.
“I am really surprised the media nationally makes a big deal about that, at least the ones that call me because there could be a new No. 1 next week or the week after,” Self said, “because when you play road league games, people are going to lose. It’s not a major upset. There’s more good teams than ever before in the college game, which leads to minor upsets. They are not major upsets.
“I’d rather be ranked No. 1 on Feb. 1 than Dec. 1,” Self added. “ I’d rather be ranked No. 1 March 1 than Feb. 1. The longer it goes on, and you are ranked high, it means you’ve had a better season. I hope we are playing our best ball when it counts.”
KU (20-1) takes its No. 1 ranking to Colorado on Wednesday night.
“It’s not too different. We’ve got a bigger bulls-eye on our back,” senior Sherron Collins said. “That comes with it. Rankings don’t matter to me too much because at the end of the year there will only be one No. 1 team.”
Villanova (19-1, four firsts) and Syracuse (21-1, six firsts) moved to second and third respectively in the AP poll. Last week’s unanimous No. 1, Kentucky, (20-1) had one first-place vote.
Michigan State, West Virginia, Georgetown, Purdue, Texas, Duke and Kansas State (tie) rounded out the top ten.