March Madness 2024: How to Watch Selection Sunday Without Cable – CNET

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March has arrived, which means the madness will soon follow. The NCAA men’s college basketball tournament — dubbed March Madness for the unpredictability that gives us small school Cinderella runs and bracket-busting buzzer beaters — gets underway later this week with the first play-in games set for Tuesday, March 19. 

After the past two weeks of conference tournaments were filled with upsets of top teams, figuring out which 68 teams will advance to the men’s tournament — and where they will be seeded in the bracket — will be a challenge for the selection committee. Thankfully, we don’t have to wait much longer for those answers as Selection Sunday is set for 6 p.m. ET (3 p.m. PT) today on CBS and Paramount Plus

Here’s everything you need to know to get ready for March Madness, from today’s Selection Sunday bracket reveal to details on the Final Four and the National Championship game. The short of it is you need only two apps for $22 combined to stream every game of the tournament.


Eyeing a repeat championship, Tristen Newton and the UConn Huskies will likely enter the 2024 NCAA tournament as a top seed.

Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images

When is Selection Sunday?

The March Madness bracket and matchups will be revealed on Sunday, March 17. The Selection Sunday show begins at 6 p.m. ET (3 p.m. PT) on CBS and Paramount Plus.

When does March Madness start?

Technically, the tournament gets underway on Tuesday, March 19, but the first full day of games tips off on Thursday, March 21. 

With 68 teams invited to the big dance, the NCCA 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 at State Farm Stadium (home of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals) in Glendale, Arizona.

March Madness begins on Tuesday, March 19, 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 21, 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.

What is the March Madness tournament schedule?

Here’s the schedule, round by round:

  • First Four: March 19-20
  • First round: March 21-22
  • Second round: March 23-24
  • Sweet 16: March 28-29
  • Elite Eight: March 30-31
  • Final Four: Saturday, April 6
  • NCAA championship game: Monday, April 8

Which are the top teams in college basketball this year?

Looking for help in filling out your bracket? I can offer no such assistance for a single-elimination tournament as wild and unpredictable as March Madness. 

What I can tell you is that online wagering site FanDuel currently lists defending champion UConn as the favorite, followed by Houston and Purdue. In the next tier are Arizona and Tennessee. Rounding out the top 10 in the polls are Auburn, North Carolina, Duke, Creighton and Kentucky.

How can I watch or stream 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.

You can watch these channels with a cable subscription or a live TV streaming service, but the most affordable option is signing up for a pair of streaming services for a month: Max and Paramount Plus with Showtime. If you have the cheaper Paramount Plus Essential plan, you won’t be able to watch March Madness unless you step up to the pricier option. 

That said, for just $22, you can watch every March Madness game live. With the $10-per-month Max streaming service, you can watch the games broadcast on TBS, TNT and TruTV. And with the $12-per-month Paramount Plus with Showtime plan, you’ll be able to watch the CBS games. 

You’ll have to juggle multiple apps, of course, but this is the cheapest ways to catch all the action. 

Max/Warner Bros. Discovery

Max costs $10 per month and will show March Madness games on TBS, TNT or TruTV. If you’re determined to sign up for only one streaming service to watch the tournament, Max is the clear choice. Not only will it show more early round games across the three Turner-owned networks, but it will also show both Final Four games and the national championship game that will be broadcast on TBS.

Live sports on Max will soon require the $10-per-month B/R Sports add-on, but you won’t need to shell out for it to watch this year’s March Madness games. Warner Bros. Discovery is delaying charging customers for the add-on option until sometime after the tournament.

Read our Max review.

You’ll need the premium Paramount Plus with Showtime plan in order to livestream the March Madness games broadcast on CBS. It costs $12 per month, which is double the price of the non-Showtime plan. For this year’s tournament, CBS will show games from the first round through the Elite Eight. Also of note: You’ll be able to watch the Selection Sunday show with Paramount Plus.

Read our Paramount Plus review.

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’s the best live TV streaming service for 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. 

We recommend YouTube TV to college basketball fans for its relatively low monthly charge and multi-view capability that lets you watch multiple games at once. It’s also one of the three services that offers all four channels needed to watch every game. At $73 per month, however, it’s significantly pricier than getting Max and Paramount Plus with Showtime. 

Sling TV lacks CBS but is a good, low-cost option if you don’t need to watch every game of the tournament but want to be sure you can watch the Final Four and national championship game. At $40 per month, however, it costs nearly twice as much as it would to sign up for a month of Max and Paramount Plus with Showtime that would let you watch every game.

Hulu with Live TV and DirecTV Stream have every channel needed as well, but both are pricier than YouTube TV and lack features like multi-view. Fubo offers multi-view but doesn’t offer the Turner networks (TNT, TBS and TruTV), making it a poor choice for March Madness.

Sarah Tew/CNET

YouTube TV costs $73 per month and includes CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see if CBS is available in your area. 

Not only is YouTube TV the cheapest live TV streaming service that offers all four channels for March Madness, but it’s also the only service that offers multi-view so you can watch four games at once. And if there’s one sporting event that cries out for multi-view, it’s March Madness, especially the first two rounds when so many games are being played at the same time.

Read our YouTube TV review.

Hulu with Live TV costs $70 per month and includes CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV. On its live news page, you can enter your ZIP code after clicking the “View channels in your area” link to see which local channels you get.

Read our Hulu with Live TV review.

Directv stream


Sling TV’s $40-a-month Blue plan includes TBS, TNT and TruTV. Sling TV is a great option if you don’t need to watch every early-round game because it will show games from each round of the tournament, including both Final Four games and the national championship game. 

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.

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