Monday Maps: Google’s College Basketball Tournament 2011

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We’re big infographics nerds here at Zeitgeist, and we love interactive maps so much we’re going to feature them on a weekly basis.  Welcome to Monday Maps!

For this first installment, I wanted to showcase a map about another of my big loves: March Madness.  Behold Google’s College Basketball Tournament Map.

Things to love about this: the way it illustrates the geography of NCAA basketball dominance (where the schools are clustered, where the schools are not); the factoidable distance tool that allows you to see how far teams have to travel for the tourney; and the nicely aggregated school and game schedule info.  There’s room for a lot more awesomeness, too: it would be very cool to see this overlayed or adjusted for population density. And, if you’re interested in recruitment and the inner-workings of college basketball, it would be great to see data on the distance between player hometowns and the schools for which they’re playing.  But overall, I think this map is a mighty interesting ‘big picture’ addition to a sporting phenomenon that’s already super heavy on maps and stats.  I hope we get to see an iteration of this next year!

And while I’m writing about cool tourney stuff on the web, I wanted to give a hat tip to the Wall Street Journal’s Blindfold Brackets, a web app that lets folks fill out a “bias-free” bracket.  Using team names like the Warthogs and the Water Buffaloes, you can pick the winner of each tournament match-up using team data and performance information.  It’s not perfect — in some cases, I don’t think they’ve picked very good or complete information and it’s very easy to identify many of the teams from their summaries — but it represents a pretty awesome approach for brackets.

(Many thanks to xtcian for the heads-up about the Google Tourney Map!)

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