There’s no sporting event quite like the NCAA Tournament. The opening week starts with a dizzying number of games that requires you to abandon work, sleep, and other essential life functions in order to not miss but one shining moment.
More the reason to employ your smartphone as a basketball companion for this year’s tournament. It truly can do it all: stream live games, beam them to your Chromecast, keep tabs on your bracket, and ping you with those all-important upset alerts.
Now that the field is set, sprint with your fingers to the Play Store and follow these tips so you can have a basketball-filled month.
Stream the games with the NCAA March Madness Live app
First things first: how do you watch the games? Fortunately this part is straightforward. You need to get the NCAA March Madness Live app. Every single contest of the 2016 tournament will be streamed here. The app is also Google Cast enabled, so you can beam the content to your Chromecast or Android TV. If you have another set-top box you want to report for duty, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to stream to that too.
But as it usually goes these days, there are caveats. For unlimited access to every game, you have to sign in with your cable provider login credentials (or someone’s, ahem) in order to watch. The app’s instructions say you’re granted a three-hour promo period before you’re kicked off the livestream. I’ve found in the past this to be rather hit and miss, as sometimes you’re allowed to hang around beyond the three-hour limit only to be unceremoniously dumped later.
Your best bet is to find a way to login, particularly if you’re a cord cutter as the semifinals and final are on TBS this year instead of CBS.
Pick your favorite app for live scores and updates
If you’re a casual fan or want to keep things simple, you can probably just stick with the official March Madness app and be happy. But if you’re a heavy user of ESPN services or have another favorite sports network, you may want to cast a wider net.
A good place to start is the CBS Sports app. It’s an all-around excellent app that’s Material Design-friendly and has a lot of college basketball content given the network’s heavy role with the tournament.
While the March Madness app is focused specifically on the tournament, CBS Sports is worth keeping on your phone once the madness is over to follow the recruiting trail and other team news during the offseason.
As always, ESPN is a great selection, especially since the sports network devotes so much coverage to college basketball throughout the year. It’s a great tournament aide because along with all the live stats, tweets, and other details, there’s a handy indicator that tells you which channel that game is on. Hey, it may keep you from missing that buzzer beater.
Given that ESPN and CBS devote the most network resources to college basketball, they have the best depth of content and sports writers who know what they’re talking about. Yet if you’re a devotee of Yahoo Sports, theScore, or another favorite then by all means go grab it. The key is to check out the notification settings and select games to follow in preferences so you don’t miss any key alerts.
A final option is the NCAA Sports app, which is a great choice if you follow your alma mater year round in other sports that don’t get as much coverage from the major networks. There’s good tournament integration, with alerts and team news to further whet your appetite.
Conquer your bracket
Even if you’re not a college basketball fan, you’ve likely been roped in with the office bracket pool more than once. There are a few different ways you can go here. ESPN breaks off its bracket content into a separate app: Tournament Challenge. You can compete against other ESPN players or get a bunch of friends or officemates together for some friendly competition.
The March Madness app is where you can get on board with CBS Bracket Challenge. It’s also a large-scale competition, but you can also create a smaller group to challenge your friends, family, or coworkers.
Both apps handle the basics, though ESPN gets points for a better design and the option to share your bracket with friends. CBS, on the other hand, has more basketball highlight video and other content that makes the app a little more engaging.
As you can see, there’s plenty here to make your March Madness watching even more exciting. You’ll still have to do things this week like go to work or eat, so a perpetual score companion is just what you need. When it comes to filling out your brackets, or what to tell your boss should you suddenly not show up for two days, you’re on your own.