Pollsters believe Kansas can put its distractions aside and dominate the college basketball world.
The Jayhawks topped the preseason ESPN/USA Today Top 25 coaches' poll, which was released Thursday. Kansas was also No. 1 in The Associated Press' preseason poll.
"We will have a bull's-eye on our back," Kansas coach Bill Self said on ESPN's "First Take." "It will make us tougher and harder and if it makes us tougher and harder throughout the season, we'll be better in March."
Michigan State, the runner-up in the 2009 NCAA tournament, starts the 2009-10 campaign second in the poll.
Kentucky didn't finish last season in the rankings, but John Calipari's arrival as coach coincides with a No. 5 ranking.
Kansas junior guard Brady Morningstar was suspended from first-semester games after he was arrested Oct. 3 on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
The arrest was the latest embarrassment for the Jayhawks, as university police opened an investigation into September's brawl involving members of the school's football and men's basketball teams.
But Self returns a strong nucleus from the team that was beaten in the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament by Michigan State.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.