NEW ORLEANS -- The New Orleans Local Organizing Committee (NOLOC) and members of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee began the countdown to the 2012 NCAA Men's Final Four with a "Tip-off" news conference at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The featured speakers for the event included Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne; New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu; Jeff Hathaway, Chair of the Division I Men's Basketball Committee; and Jacqie Carpenter, Director of the Division I Men's Basketball Championship.

"The Final Four returns to the Crescent City for the fifth time and falls during an unprecedented run of national sporting events for our city and community," Tulane Director of Athletics Rick Dickson said. "The coalition of local organizations that have come together to put on the Final Four is long and impressive. The local organizing committee has members from all segments of the community from tourism to education to civic.

"In addition to a fantastic national basketball championship, there are fun and entertaining events for all our visitors and New Orleanians of all ages."

The 2012 NCAA Men's Final Four will take place March 31-April 2 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Tuesday's announcement marks the countdown to the first NCAA Final Four men's game in 67 days. A countdown clock to the opening game will be permanently displayed on a billboard at the corner of Canal and South Rampart streets through the conclusion of the event.

A Final Four public information line has been set up and will be available from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. through the conclusion of the Final Four. The number to call is (504) 587-8830.

The NOLOC is still accepting for volunteers to staff the various events for the Final Four. For those wanting to volunteer, please visit www.ncaa.com/finalfour.

Along with the Final Four's two national semifinal games on March 31 and the national championship game on April 2, the Final Four features several community events, including Bracket Town(March 30-April 2), The Big Dance concert series (March 30-April 1), Final Four Friday (March 30), NCAA Youth Clinics (March 31) and the NCAA Final Four Dribble (April 1).