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Trips for Big 12 leaders Kansas, Missouri draw grumbling

Missouri's DeMarre Carroll (right) and Keith Ramsey (center) celebrate after learning that the squad was chosen as the No. 3 seed in the West Region of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.

Missouri's DeMarre Carroll (right) and Keith Ramsey (center) celebrate after learning that the squad was chosen as the No. 3 seed in the West Region of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – After fuming for years that an East Coast bias hurts the league, Big 12 coaches have picked up a credible ally.

Jeff Capel, who played at Duke and coached in Virginia before becoming head coach at Oklahoma, said they’re right.

“Many people look at this part of the country as football,” said Capel, whose Sooners are seeded No. 2 in the South Region. “I was there until I came here, and that’s what I thought when I lived there.”

The Big 12 got six teams into the NCAA field this year, as many as the Pac-10 and one fewer than the ACC, Big East and Big Ten.

But it’s their seeding and bracketing that has some Big 12 teams upset. For example, ACC powers Duke and North Carolina get to play their opening-round games in Greensboro, N.C.

But neither Kansas nor Missouri, the Big 12′s regular-season and postseason champions, respectively, were assigned to Kansas City for their first games. The Jayhawks are in Minneapolis. Missouri is at Boise, Idaho.

Oklahoma, which lost to both Kansas and Missouri head-to-head, is the Big 12 team that gets to open in Kansas City’s Sprint Center.

“You can’t sit there and cry about it,” said Missouri coach Mike Anderson. “We’re excited to be a part of it and the seeds are what they are. It would have been nice to have been in Kansas City, no question about it, being closer to home. But Oklahoma got the nod and now we’ve just got to move forward.”

The Big East got three No. 1 seeds. But Oklahoma, as a No. 2, is the highest among Big 12 teams. Kansas, the defending NCAA champion and regular-season Big 12 winner, is a No. 3 seed in the Midwest, while Missouri is a No. 3 in the West. Texas A&M is seeded No. 9 in the West Region. In the East, Oklahoma State is No. 8 and Texas is No. 7.

Nobody is more unhappy than Kansas State’s Frank Martin, and not just because his Wildcats, who were seeded No. 4 in the Big 12, were left out of the NCAA field.

“The seedings that Kansas, Missouri, Texas and those other teams have gotten, it’s kind of unfortunate they’ve gotten the lower seeds and been sent places that are so far away from home, unlike the winners of those (other) leagues,” Martin said.

“It continues to be the lack of respect this league receives on a national basis. We have to figure out a way to be more forceful in how we sell our league.”

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