March Madness lasts for a mere 22 days, beginning on Selection Sunday when the bracket is unveiled and ending with the championship game on April 4. The NFL and NBA playoffs, which have a fraction of teams involved, last 29 days and more than 50 days, respectively. The NCAA Tournament is the equivalent of a 50-meter race: There may be a definite winner at the end, but with Cinderellas, upsets, buzzer beaters and controversy, there’s almost never a clear runaway winner. For many fans, following every game has become an annual ritual. These free apps enhance the experience.
Watch the Madness
With 68 teams given tournament slots, even the most astute basketball fan can get overwhelmed by the action. After all, 48 games will be played from March 17-20 as the first and second rounds play out. Which games should you follow? Thuuz has you covered. The app rates all live and upcoming games on a scale of 1-100 based on excitement and anticipation level. This is crucial, as you won’t want to miss any last second shots or historic upsets. The app also features a TV guide, alerts, friend notification options and other customization features.
Not only is every single NCAA tournament game broadcast, you can watch games live on your mobile device. A paid TV subscription is required for games on TBS, TBT and truTV, but viewers can enjoy a free 3-hour video pass before they have to log in. Games on CBS are provided for free. The app offers a host of other features including alerts, social media integration, video highlights and radio broadcasts.
Bonus: Don’t Forget Social
Snapchat and Twitter are probably already on your phone but come tournament time, their value increases. Follow journalists, bloggers, players and coaches on Twitter so you get insights during and after games. Many college teams can now be found on Snapchat, which means you can see first-person video of the locker room or pregame warm-ups.
The greatness of “bracketology” is it gives everyone a rooting interest. And the Tournament Challenge app is the perfect tool for satisfying that interest. The app tracks your ESPN bracket score in real time and updates your percentile of accuracy based on all the brackets entered. This can be an opportunity for 15 minutes of fame. In 2015, 11.57 million brackets were filled out and just one was perfect after two days of action. A 12-year-old boy from Illinois ended up taking home first place in that bracket challenge.
There are dozens of apps for checking scores and following teams, but these three are considered the best. The ESPN and CBS sports apps can make tournament highlights available, but theScore has better reviews. All these apps feature live game tracking, alerts and customization, schedules and social media integration, so it really comes down to preference. They’re all free, too, so you can compare them before Selection Sunday on March 13.
The And One
When scores and highlights just aren’t enough, FanCred is the best way to be a part of the action (besides buying a ticket). The sports social network allows readers to post and watch videos. This means you can experience the atmosphere inside the arena, post your own rant about referees blowing the game and engage with other sports fans. The app has received press and millions in funding from investors so you can expect it to be enhanced and improved for years to come.