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How you can catch March Madness 2020

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Feb 4, 2020 — 5 min read

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Please note: In an effort to fight the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), this event has been canceled.

Between March 17 and April 6, you’ll be able to watch every game through a streaming, cable or satellite TV service. We’ll also show you a few ways to watch March Madness for free.

The single-elimination tournament called March Madness crowns the National College Basketball Champion. The National Association of Basketball Coaches created the competition in 1939, and today it features 68 Division 1 National College Athletic Association (NCAA) teams. 

March Madness structure

The champions of all 32 Division I conferences automatically qualify for March Madness. The additional 36 places are made up of “at-large” teams, which are chosen by an NCAA selection committee on Selection Sunday, which falls on March 15.

March Madness 2020 will begin using a new system, the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET), to decide team rankings. It employs data such as game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin, net offensive and defensive efficiency to make performance evaluations as fair as possible. The selection committee then divides the 68 teams into four regions, seeds them and places them in a fixture bracket.

The competition begins with the so-called First Four, which features the eight lowest-seeded teams battling in four games for a position in the first round. From there, single-elimination matches reduce 64 teams to 32 in the first round. The second round decides the Sweet Sixteen contestants, who fight it out to reach the Elite Eight.

The winners of the Elite Eight games progress to the Final Four — two single-elimination semi-finals that decide who’ll compete for the National Championship.

2020 March Madness schedule

The 2020 March Madness tournament gets underway mid-March and concludes through the first week of April. Below is the full schedule for the event, including the location, host university or conference of each round.

March 15: March Madness Selection Sunday

March 17 and 18: The First Four

  • University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, OH, and hosted by the University of Dayton

March 19 and 21: First and Second Round

  • Times Union Center in Albany, NY, and hosted by the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
  • Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena in Spokane, WA, and hosted by the University of Idaho
  • Enterprise Center in St. Louis, MO, and hosted by the Missouri Valley Conference
  • Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL, and hosted by the University of South Florida

March 20 and 22: First and Second Round

  • Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, NC, and hosted by the Atlantic Coast Conference
  • CHI Health Center Omaha in Omaha, NE, and hosted by Creighton University
  • Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, CA, and hosted by Sacramento State University
  • Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, OH, and hosted by the Mid-American Conference and Cleveland State University

March 26 and 28: Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight

  • Midwest Regional at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN, and hosted by the Horizon League / IUPUI
  • West Regional at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA, and hosted by Pepperdine University

March 27 and 29: Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight

  • South Regional at Toyota Center in Houston, TX, and hosted by the University of Houston
  • East Regional at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY, and hosted by St. John’s University and the Big East Conference

April 4 and 6: National Semi-Finals (Final Four) and Championship

  • Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA, and hosted by Georgia Institute of Technology

Channels showing March Madness

CBS Sports and Turner Sports, the sports division of WarnerMedia, will jointly produce March Madness TV coverage. CBS, ESPN, TBS, TNT and TruTV will all be home to live broadcasts, with CBS Sports Network re-airing games featured elsewhere. Other sports channels, such as FOX Sports Network and Stadium, will have rights to some games, but these will largely be geographically restricted. Some conferences have their own networks.

Since 2016, the regional finals, Final Four and National Championship have alternated between CBS and TBS. TBS holds the rights to the final two rounds in even-numbered years, so it will have the broadcasting rights for March Madness 2020.

The current agreement on broadcasting rights of the tournament is as follows:

  • First Four games: All air on truTV
  • First and Second Round: CBS broadcasts a featured game in each time window. TBS, TNT or TruTV will air all other games
  • Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight: CBS and TBS will split the matchups 
  • Final Four and National Championship: Broadcast by TBS

How to stream March Madness

Games that will be broadcast on TV will almost certainly be streamed somewhere online as well. Most of the networks with rights to March Madness also have apps that enable live streaming. The ever-increasing numbers of video streaming services will also carry several games. 

The NCAA website and its official app will also stream the competition. Both live-streamed the 2019 tournament for free.

Top streaming options for March Madness

All live TV streaming services listed below come with a seven-day free trial and range anywhere from $45 to $65/mo. Here’s how they compare for March Madness channels:

AT&T TV ($60/mo.)AT&T TV NOW ($65/mo.)fuboTV ($55/mo.) (View plans)Hulu + Live TV ($55/mo.) (View plans)Sling ($45/mo.) (View plans)YouTube TV ($50/mo.) (View plans)
CBS
ESPN
TBS
TNT
TruTV
  • AT&T TV – includes local channels, regional sports networks, CBS Sports Network, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, FOX Sports 1 and SEC Network
  • AT&T TV Now – includes local channels, regional sports networks, CBS Sports Network, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, FOX Sports 1 and SEC Network
  • ESPN+ – will live stream select March Madness events
  • fuboTV – includes some local channels, regional sports networks, Big Ten Network, CBS Sports Network, FOX Sports 1 and Pac-12 Network, but no ESPN
  • Hulu + Live TV – includes local channels, regional sports networks, Big Ten Network, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and SEC Network
  • NCAA app – will live stream for free throughout March Madness
  • Sling TV – includes some regional sports networks, ACC Network (with add-on sports package), ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, FOX Sports 1 and SEC Network, but no local channels
  • Stadium – will live-stream games from smaller NCAA conferences
  • YouTube TV – includes local channels, regional sports networks, ACC Network, CBS Sports Network, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, FOX Sports 1 and SEC Network

For more information on which games will be streamed online and via the app, check NCAA.com.

The bottom line

There are plenty of options for basketball fans to enjoy all the excitement of March Madness 2020. Multiple TV networks and live TV streaming platforms will carry the action. Just be sure to check the local listings for where desired games are being broadcast. Furthermore, the NCAA website and mobile app will broadcast games for free, ensuring everyone can get a piece of the action.