March Madness is here. After a busy round of conference tournaments the men’s NCAA college basketball tournament — affectionately (and accurately) known as March Madness — gets underway this week. The First Four play-in games have begun, with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Pitt punching their respective tickets to the Big Dance on Tuesday night.
The final two play-in games, known as the First Four, will be taking place on Wednesday. The First Round kicks off on Thursday and Friday and for the following three weeks, college basketball fans will be treated to small-school Cinderella runs and bracket-busting buzzer-beaters.
Here’s everything you need to know to get ready for March Madness, from the First Four to the Final Four and the National Championship game.
When does March Madness start?
With 68 teams invited to the big dance, the NCAA holds four play-in games to get the field down to 64, after which point the math works out to have four regional tournaments of 16 teams each. The winners of the four regional tournaments then advance to the Final Four, held this year in Houston.
March Madness begins on Tuesday, March 14, with two play-in games followed by two more play-in games the next night. After these First Four games, the field of 64 is set and the tournament begins in earnest on Thursday, March 16, with a full slate of games that will take place all afternoon and into the night with at least a few moments of madness practically guaranteed.
Which teams are playing in March Madness?
The March Madness bracket and matchups were revealed on Sunday. Alabama, Houston, Kansas and Purdue are the top seeds in their respective regions.
The full bracket can be found on the NCAA’s website.
What is the March Madness schedule?
Here’s the schedule, round by round:
- First Four: March 14-15
- First round: March 16-17
- Second round: March 18-19
- Sweet 16: March 23-24
- Elite Eight: March 25-26
- Final Four: April 1
- NCAA championship game: April 3
Which teams are in the First Four?
The First Four play-in games continue on Wednesday. Here is the schedule and who each winner would face in the First Round.
Wednesday, March 15:
- Fairleigh Dickenson vs. Texas Southern, 6:40 p.m. ET (3:40 p.m. PT) on TruTV; winner plays Purdue
- Nevada vs. Arizona State, 9:10 p.m. ET (6:10 p.m. PT) on TruTV, winner plays TCU
How can I watch March Madness?
As in past years, the tournament will be shown across four channels: CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV. Yep, the time has come again to find TruTV on your dial.
If the last time you watched something on TruTV was last March, then you might need some assistance finding it for this year’s tournament. Here’s a handy guide for some of the major cable or satellite TV providers:
What channel is broadcasting the Final Four?
The Final Four and National Championship game will air on CBS and stream on Paramount Plus.
Can I stream March Madness for free?
Go to the NCAA’s March Madness Live site or use its March Madness Live app and you’ll be able to watch games for free. You can watch March Madness Live on iOS and Android devices along with Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV and Xbox One. The app also supports AirPlay and Chromecast.
As with most things that are free, there’s a catch. Without proving you’re a pay-TV subscriber, you get only a three-hour preview, after which point you’ll need to log in to continue watching.
What are my other streaming options?
You can use a live TV streaming service to watch March Madness. Three of the five live TV streaming services offer the four channels needed to watch every tournament game, but keep in mind that not every service carries every local network, so check each one using the links below to make sure it carries CBS in your area.
You can also use Paramount Plus to watch some, but not all, of March Madness. Only the games shown on CBS are available on Paramount Plus.
YouTube TV costs $65 a month and includes CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks are available in your area. Read our YouTube TV review.
Hulu with Live TV costs $70 a month and includes CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV. Click the “View channels in your area” link on its welcome page to see which local channels are offered in your ZIP code. Read our Hulu with Live TV review.
Paramount Plus costs $10 a month for its Premium plan and will show March Madness games broadcast on CBS including the Final Four. You can’t, however, watch the rest of the tournament shown on TBS, TNT or TruTV with Paramount Plus. Read our Paramount Plus review.
FuboTV’s basic plan costs $75 a month and includes CBS but not TBS, TNT or TruTV. It’s not the best choice for March Madness but will let you watch some early-round games, the Final Four and championship game. Click here to see which local channels you get. Read our FuboTV review.
Sling TV’s $40-a-month Blue plan includes TBS, TNT and TruTV. None of its plans include CBS, which means you can’t watch the culmination of March Madness on Sling. Read our Sling TV review.
All of the live TV streaming services above offer free trials, allow you to cancel anytime and require a solid internet connection. Looking for more information? Check out our live-TV streaming services guide.