Conference tournaments are over and the brackets are set. Sixty-eight teams on both the men’s and women’s sides are about to begin a nearly month-long journey that could culminate with them hoisting a National Championship trophy and cutting down the nets in either New Orleans or Minneapolis. It’s the most wonderful time of the year for basketball fans, and all of the March Madness games are available to stream if you know where to look and have a TV provider log-in to unlock full access. Even if you don’t, there are some options so that you can catch a few games for free. Here’s what you need to know about streaming March Madness.
When does March Madness begin?
Depending on who you ask, the 2022 NCAA Tournament either begins Tuesday or Thursday. On March 15 and 16, the First Four or four “play-in” games take place. These allow four more teams to “make the tournament” than if the selection committee just filled the slot with one in each spot. Some people argue the entire event doesn’t really start until Thursday and Friday, March 17 and 18, when the First Round officially tips off.
No matter which side you land on, the First Four games will start at 6:40 PM ET each night on truTV while Thursday and Friday games begin at 12:15 PM ET with the first game on CBS. The latter two days are the busiest and some of the most popular of the tournament as 16 games take place on each. Yes, these are two of the least productive days of the entire year in the US. Action continues with the Second Round on Saturday and Sunday, March 19 and 20, before a break until next Thursday. This is when the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight rounds are played over the course of the second four-day weekend of the tournament. The Final Four is set for Saturday, April 2 while the National Championship Game will go down on Monday, April 4th.
How to stream the 2022 Men’s NCAA Tournament
Unlike during the regular season when you need to know which network your team’s conference has a broadcast deal with to find most of the games, Turner Sports holds the rights to the entire Men’s NCAA Tournament. This means you’ll be able to watch all 67 games, including the First Four, on CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV. If you have cable, you’re all set. If you pay for a live TV streaming service like YouTube TV or Hulu, you’re also in good shape. If you don’t have either, don’t worry, you can still watch a good chunk of the tournament.
Turner Sports will allow anyone to watch the games that are broadcast on CBS on the web and mobile devices without a TV provider log-in. Paramount + users will be able to do the same through that streaming app. If you do have credentials from your TV plan, you can stream everything through the March Madness Live app that’s available on a host of devices. You can find it on Amazon, Android and iOS for mobile and macOS on the desktop. For streaming gadgets, it’s on Apple TV, Fire TV, Google TV, Roku and Xbox and the app also supports some LG smart TVs.
With some of those home entertainment devices, Turner will give you a very handy feature. On Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Google TV and Xbox One, the March Madness Live app will allow you to stream two games at once. Sure, in an ideal world we would get the ability to stream up to four like ESPN’s app goes on an everyday basis, but two is certainly better than one. If you opt for the desktop, mobile or tablet versions, you’ll get picture-in-picture viewing while you browse away from the main game view.
You can certainly use your cable interface or streaming TV service of choice, but Turner has made March Madness Live a centralized hub for the tournament. If you have log-in credentials that get you access to everything, using those will allow you to jump from game to game much faster than scrolling through a guide. And Turner also gives you all of the alerts and stats you could ask for, including the ability to easily follow picks from your bracket if you filled it out on NCAA.com.
Streaming the 2022 Women’s NCAA Tournament
As if one National Championship tournament in March wasn’t enough, the Women’s edition takes place at the same time. It’s March Madness, after all. The First Four is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, March 16 and 17, with the First and Second rounds playing out between Friday, March 18 and Monday, March 21. Sweet Sixteen and Elite 8 runs Friday to Monday again, starting March 25, and the Final Four and National Championship Game are set for April 1 and 3.
If you notice there are some scheduling differences so that there are only women’s games on Mondays and both the Final Four and championship are slotted between the same events for the men. So when it comes down to crunch time, you can watch the conclusion of both tournaments live without having to sacrifice viewing the other.
ESPN has the rights to the Women’s NCAA Tournament, so you can expect games to show up on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPNEWS. The first two of the First Four games will be broadcast on ESPNU at 7PM ET and 9PM ET each night. First Round matchups begin at 11:30 AM ET on Friday and Saturday on ESPN2, with subsequent games on those days expanding to the other networks.
Once again, if you have a cable plan or streaming TV service with Disney’s sports channels you’re all set. However, the best place to watch all of the action will be the ESPN app. Here, you’ll get access to the aforementioned Multicast feature that will give you up to four games at once. It will be especially handy during those first four days of the tournament when there’s lots of action happening at the same time. However, it’s only available on Apple TV and Xbox One.
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