Yes, it’s March Madness time. The time where everyone who attended a popular college magically becomes a basketball fan.

Google is getting into the college basketball mix with some fun initiatives this year, led by some Google+ interaction, Google Earth tours of stadiums, and handy search tricks.

First things first, the company has projected its winner based on the thing it knows the best, search volume. According to Google, the NCAA Tournament winner will be (drumroll), Kentucky. I’m not going to agree or disagree, but we’ll definitely revisit its picks when the tournament is all said and done.

Google College Hoops 2012 · Inside Google Search 520x270 Google gears up for March Madness with live ESPN Google+ hangouts and more

Head on over to its projection page and you can see the road to the championship supported by which teams are Googling the most.

Since search is such a huge part of what Google does, the company has pointed out that you can follow your favorite teams just by searching for them. For example, this search for Duke shows the results of their last game and the date and time of their next one:

duke basketball Google Search 1 Google gears up for March Madness with live ESPN Google+ hangouts and more

To follow your favorite teams on Google+, the team has created a circle of all of the teams who have a page. Feel free to follow all of them, but prepare yourself for a stream full of “ra ra”.

collegehoops circle Google gears up for March Madness with live ESPN Google+ hangouts and more

Additionally, ESPN will be hosting live hangouts on Google+ throughout the entire tournament starting on March 21st with Doug Gottlieb as your host. This is a pretty big deal for Google as I think that hangouts can become a bigger part of the TV watching experience, allowing viewers to interact directly with on-air personalities.

Finally, the company has released a really cool Google Earth video that serves as a tour for all of the locations where games are being played:

That’s quite a commitment to March Madness for any company, I’d say. This campaign reflects Google’s new focus on social, as well as bringing all of its assets together in harmony. With Google+, search, Earth, and YouTube, you’re getting an early look at how integrated all of Google’s services will be moving forward.