After three weeks of basketball, March Madness is down to just two teams. The University of Virginia faces Texas Tech in the men's NCAA Division 1 title game tonight (April 8), and the new champs of college basketball will be crowned.
Streaming tonight's game is especially easy, since it's on CBS and because the NCAA has a streaming app that works on a slew of platforms. Cord cutters can get their hoops fix, too, if they subscribe to the right service. And you can use a VPN service to follow the action even if you’re traveling.
Here's a closer look at the many ways you can watch men's college basketball crown its national champion.
March Madness Live
There's an app that carries all of the games that would otherwise air on CBS. That would be the NCAA March Madness Live offering, which is accessible both through a website and a downloadable app that’s compatible with many different devices.
Because March Madness Live features all tournament games, you can use it to watch the final, too. When games were airing on pay cable channels, you had a 3-hour free preview before you had to sign in with a cable provider, but with the Virginia-Texas Tech final on CBS, anyone with the March Madness Live app should be able to catch the game. Even cord cutters can watch the action, whether using an HDTV antenna or over a streaming service that offers local channels.
What platforms does the March Madness app worth with?
Name a device, and there's a pretty good chance there's a version of March Madness Live that will run on it. Supported platforms include iOS, Apple TV, Apple Watch, Android, Amazon Fire tablets and TVs, Chromecast, Roku players and TVs, and Xbox One, in addition to web browsers.
March Madness Live also works with Amazon's Alexa-powered speakers. Supported skills include reminding you when specific games are on and checking scores. With the Westwood One app, you can also stream radio broadcasts of games through your Alexa speaker.
Here's where you'll find downloadable versions of the March Madness Live app for various platforms.
What can I expect from the March Madness app?
After tonight the March Madness App live ceases to be useful until March 2020. But if you download the app for this year's final, you'll find a solid app that includes a host of outstanding features.
In addition to being able to watch live games from the app, you can access Video On Demand, allowing you to check out highlights from past games, watch the biggest moments from each game, and even cast your videos from your mobile devices to your screen via Apple’s Airplay or Google’s Cast. You can also create your own bracket and see how it compares to the picks for friends and family, though that feature isn't much use at this stage in the tournament. (Better luck next year at picking the perfect bracket.)
And if you’re an Apple Watch owner, you can get alerts and live scores fed directly to your wrist.
What about streaming services?
Because tonight's final is on free TV, you don't necessarily need a streaming service to watch the game. (Match-ups from earlier rounds aired on TBS, TNT and TruTV, so you would have needed either a cable subscription or a streaming service that carried those channels.) Still, in case this question comes up before next year's tournament, here are your streaming service options for catching every March Madness game.
CBS' $6-a-month streaming service — CBS All Access — features all of the tournament games airing on that network. (There's a seven-day free trial of CBS All Access available before that monthly fee kicks in so you could use CBS All Access to watch the semifinals and finals during that trial period.)
As for streaming services, because the remaining game is on CBS, you'll want to confirm that the service of your choice includes your local CBS affiliate — not every local affiliate is included with every streaming service. Here's a list of your options, all of which include 7-day free trials.
|Streaming Service||Tier||Channels Included||Price|
|DirecTVNow||Plus||CBS, TBS, TNT, truTV||$50 DirecTV Now|
|Fubo.TV||Fubo||CBS, TBS, TNT, truTV||$45 Fubo.TV|
|Hulu ||Hulu with Live TV||CBS, TBS, TNT, truTV||$45 Hulu|
|PlayStation Vue||Access||CBS, TBS, TNT, truTV||$44.95 PlayStation Vue|
|Sling TV||Blue, Orange||Blue: TNT, TBS|
Orange: TNT, TBS, TruTV
|$25 Sling TV|
|YouTube TV||YouTube TV||CBS, TBS, TNT, truTV||$40 YouTube TV|
A current promotion at Sling is knocking 40 percent off the monthly rate for your first three months of service, lowering the monthly cost of Sling TV Blue and Orange to $15 each. On the other end of the spectrum, DirecTV Now just raised its rates and reshuffled its channel packages to just two offerings. The good news is that the cheaper Plus tier includes all the channels you'll need to watch the NCAA tournament; the bad news is that $50 DirecTV Now charges is $10 more a month than what it was charging earlier this month.
PlayStation Vue's service was recently updated for the fourth-generation Apple TV, allowing that set-top box to show up to four channels of live TV simultaneously. The multi-view feature for the PlayStation 4 is also getting some enhancements, including new filters for sports and real-time program changing.
How do I use a VPN to watch from outside the U.S.?
If you’re away from home during tonight's final, you don’t have to miss out on any of the games. Turning to a VPN service means you can make it seem as if your computer or mobile device is connecting from a different country, allowing you to access the same streaming services you could back home.
We’ve tested and rated many VPN services, and our top pick is ExpressVPN, which will meet the needs of the vast majority of users. It’s got wide compatibility and superb speeds. It costs $12.95-per-month, but that fee goes down if you sign up for 6 months or a year of service.)
ExpressVPN: Based on our testing, this is the best overall VPN, and there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee if you don’t like what you get.
NordVPN: This is the service to turn to if security’s your big concern. NordVPN uses 2048-bit encryption, and it includes proxy extensions for everything from Bitcoin and PayPal to credit cards and web browsers like Chrome and Firefox.
TunnelBear: If you’re new to VPNs, this is a very good choice, as it’s got a friendly, easy-to-use interface that appeals to novices. You’ll get average performance and pricing.
When does the final begin?
Coverage begins on CBS at 9 p.m. ET tonight, with the game tipping off closer to 9:20 p.m.
Who's going to win the tournament?
Don't ask us, our bracket got busted the minute Duke bowed out.