With Minnesota coach Richard Pitino out to avenge Louisville’s firing of his father, Rick, at 11:15 a.m. Thursday on CBS, the NCAA Tournament’s Round of 64 really gets rolling.
By the time Vermont-Florida State tips at 1 p.m. on TBS, four games could be going on simultaneously, what with New Mexico State-Auburn having started at 12:30 p.m. on TNT and Yale-LSU at 11:40 a.m. on TruTV.
—Wow. Haven’t thought about TruTV since last year’s tournament. Why are they sticking games there?
Not a fan of “The Carbonaro Effect” or “Impractical Jokers,” I take it. Well, it’s a Turner channel, like TBS and TNT, now all under the WarnerMedia banner. CBS and Turner share the NCAA Tournament rights.
—Where do I find TruTV on my cable or satellite provider?
What am I, psychic? Not knowing where you live or which cable or satellite provider you use, I have no idea what channel number it is for you. But if you go to trutv.com. click on the schedule site, then “Channel Finder” and enter your ZIP code, you should get your answer. I’m assuming you know where TNT, TBS and CBS are.
—How long do I have to remember TruTV?
Just through the first weekend of the tournament. By the Round of 16, all the games are on CBS or TBS. The Final Four, on April 6, and title game, on April 8, are on CBS.
—Can I just stream the games?
Sure. You can stream on desktop and mobile web via NCAA.com, as well as the websites and apps for each channel. You also can use the March Madness Live app, available for such platforms as Android, Android TV, iOS, Apple TV, Amazon Echo, Amazon Fire tablets, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Xbox One, Roku, Oculus Go and Samsung Gear VR. That’s not an exhaustive list, just exhausting. But you get the idea.
—That sounds almost too easy. What am I missing?
After watching long enough to see a little more than one game, Turner will require the log in from a cable, satellite or streaming provider. CBS requires a subscription sign-in for its “All Access” site. The March Madness Live app will stream CBS games but not allow you to use a digital media player to watch them on a TV or with a video projector.
—What do I do if I’m not paying for my TV service now and don’t want to start?
Get some friends. Go to a bar. Seriously? For the cable games, live-streaming services such as YouTube TV, Hulu+Live TV, Sling TV and Fubo TV have five- to seven-day free-trial periods. That won’t get you access to the whole tournament gratis — how diabolically clever of them — but it’s better than nothing. The good news is all you should need is a digital antenna and TV to get the CBS games on free TV.
I’m going to stop you right there. I’m sure there are other hacks. But while I think the multibillion-dollar CBS/Turner TV deal with the NCAA is obscene, especially given where that money goes and doesn’t go, it would be somewhat hypocritical for someone who writes for a media outlet reliant on paid subscriptions and advertising revenue to get too deep in the weeds on how to circumvent another outlet’s turnstile. That’s what Google is for.
—So that’s it?
You can always listen to the games. WMVP-AM 1000 is the Chicago outlet for Westwood One tournament broadcasts. All the games’ radio broadcasts are available on the March Madness Live website and app. Funny story: One year I was in Ecuador and had no access to tournament games. Video was unavailable, but thanks to the app I was able to listen on my phone as my alma mater was bounced from the regional semifinals by one point in overtime.
That’s not such a funny story. Maybe it would be if Charles Barkley told it. He even makes puns seem funny in those credit-card ads. What’s he doing during the tournament besides commercials?
He’ll be on some of the Turner studio shows working as an analyst and bemoaning his bracket picks going up in smoke.
—Sir Charles isn’t picking Duke?
Maybe he will. Maybe he won’t. Either way, he almost always is out of contention by the first Saturday. Certainly a lot of people are picking the Blue Devils. With Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Cameron Reddish potentially the first three picks in the NBA draft, they are an 11-5 tournament favorite, the top overall seed, the No. 1 seed in the East and one of three Atlantic Coast Conference No. 1 seeds in the tournament. So yeah, it will not be a big surprise if Duke wins the thing. One highly predictable shining moment.
—Like Virginia last year?
Touche. Many thought the ACC’s Cavaliers were glory-bound. Instead, they were homeward bound, the first No. 1 seed to get ousted by a No. 16 seed, Maryland-Baltimore County. That’s part of what makes the tournament must-see TV. Gonzaga, for example, is a No. 1 seed despite not being in the ACC and losing in the West Coast Conference Tournament to St. Mary’s. Just goes to show you never know.
—Speaking of not knowing things, you said this tournament is just getting rolling. What about those four earlier games in Dayton, the ones the NCAA calls the First Four? Don’t they count?
Technically, yes. The NCAA promotes this as a 68-team field and is free to call those games anything it wants while pocketing TV money. But there’s a reason those also are referred to as “play-in games.” And the NCAA website doesn’t require anyone to complete their brackets until the Round of 64 begins Thursday morning.
—So I didn’t need to skip “Ellen’s Game of Games” to see Fairleigh Dickinson come back against Prairie View A&M?
Need to? Nope. But that’s proof you can find TruTV. Deep down, are you an “Impractical Jokers” fan, after all?
—Who’s the one who’s supposed to be asking the questions here?
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