The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament tipped off Thursday morning, and games continue almost nonstop throughout the weekend. The NCAA has a March Madness livestream that offers every single game online. But there are numerous rules, restrictions, requirements and workarounds to navigate. And that doesn’t even include how you’re going to hide all of this online basketball watching from your boss.
NCAA March Madness Live lets you watch any tournament game online if you log in with an authenticated cable TV subscription. If you don’t have cable, you can still always watch one game for free -- but you don’t get to pick which game. And if you’re watching on a mobile device, there’s a separate different app for each device type to play live video of NCAA Tournament games.
Watch March Madness Free Online
Throughout the tournament, there will be one (and only one) game streaming for free at NCAA March Madness Live. This will be whichever game is being broadcast on the CBS Network, and it’s the only freebie available. If your tournament game of choice is not on CBS and you don’t have cable, you won’t be able to stream that particular game.
But there are ways….
The NCAA gives you a four-hour grace period to watch other games that are on cable networks TBS, TNT and TRUtv, even if you don’t have a cable subscription. You can probably sneak in more than one (but not quite two) games into that grace period. Additionally, each different device you watch on gives you a fresh four hours. So you could get four more free hours on your tablet, and then four more hours on your smartphone. But on your mobile device, you will need to watch on a separate dedicated app.
Watch March Madness on Mobile Devices
Whether you’re on an iPhone, iPad or Android phone or tablet, there is a dedicated March Madness app streaming the tournament games for that device. NCAA March Madness Live for iOS streams the games to iPhones and iPads. NCAA March Madness Live for Android does the same for Android devices. There are also NCAA March Madness Live for Kindle and NCAA March Madness Live for Windows Phone and Windows Tablet apps. The same rules on cable TV restrictions apply.
Unfortunately, you cannot “triple dip” your grace periods if you have a computer plus an iPad and an iPhone, or a computer plus an Android phone and tablet. Apple and Google are much better at tracking your behavior across devices than the NCAA. When your iPhone uses up some of that grace period time, your iPad will know it. Same with Android phones and tablets.
Which March Madness Games are Free to Watch Online?
The games that are free for everyone to watch are listed below. We can only list the first two days of tournament action, as future games and times are not yet determined.
Thursday. March 20
12:15 p.m. ET (6) Ohio State vs. (11) Dayton
2:45 p.m. ET (3) Syracuse vs. (14) Western Michigan
7:10 p.m. ET (2) Michigan vs. (15) Wofford
9:40 p.m. ET (7) Texas vs. (10) Arizona State
Friday. March 21
12:15 p.m. ET (3) Duke vs. (14) Mercer
2:45 p.m. ET (6) UMass vs. (11) Tennessee
7:10 p.m. ET (1) Wichita State vs. (16) Cal Poly
9:40 p.m. ET (8) Kentucky vs. (9) Kansas State
If you can’t get the live video and you absolutely have to follow a particular tournament game, you can get free live audio of March Madness on Westwood One Radio, or audio on your mobile device with the TuneIn mobile app.