Cross-posted on the Official Google Blog

Do you hear the dribble on the court and the chanting of the fans? Following an action-packed week of buzzer beaters, the 2011 NCAA® Championship here in the U.S. promises to be as exciting as ever.

As a college hoops fan, I often wish I could experience the games sitting in the arenas—and I’m sure I’m not alone. This year, our college basketball tournament map lets you get as close as you can to the games without leaving your desk thanks to 3D models of the tournament’s 14 arenas. Take a virtual tour of the venues by watching the video below, or download this tour and open it in Google Earth.

Plus, we’ve created a special page for you to keep track of all the excitement during the next few weeks. You can see an up-to-date tournament schedule, explore the college campuses in Street View and click through to watch the actual games on NCAA® March Madness on Demand®. You can also create a bracket using Google Docs, read Google News articles on the games and download basketball apps from the Chrome Web Store. It’s all here (along with a fun surprise) at

And since there’s been a long-running debate over whether teams playing closer to their home court have an advantage, we added a “Distance Tool” on the map to make it easier to measure how far schools have to travel from game to game. We’ll see how things play out, but the defending champion Duke Blue Devils may have to travel more than 2,000 miles to Anaheim if they win their first two games.

As my friends always say when we can’t wait for the tournament to begin, “Send it in, Jerome!” May your favorite school reach the finals and we hope you enjoy all the basketball fun at