March Madness may be a huge time for basketball fans, and when they’re not skipping out to a sports bar or trying to hide a viewing window from their boss, a lot of them are following the Tournament through apps.
NCAA March Madness Live
This is the official March Madness app, from the NCAA, in conjunction with broadcast partners CBS and Turner Sports. The app offers one thing none of the others do- actual live streaming of the games themselves, although authentication is required. During the first weekend of the tournament, with multiple games at the same time, users can put one game on TV and another on their app, or project the game to their TV.
In addition, March Madness Live offers video recaps with highlights of every single game, as well as updates on the status of the bracket- through a colorful representation of the latest results- and the number of users who still have a perfect bracket in the Capital One Bracket Challenge. There are even highlight reels of the best dunks. A special highlight is the Classic Games section, which gives users the option of streaming entire great games from the past, including the Duke/Kentucky classic from 1992. If you’re going to follow the tournament on an app, this is the one.
March Madness Live requires iOS 10.2 or later, 139.8 MB of storage and is free.
ESPN Tournament Challenge
This app by ESPN —the sports network that does not have any broadcast rights to the actual games —has a much narrower focus: It’s all about the bracket. Users who entered their brackets before the tournament can check how they’re doing, while also checking themselves against the competition. There’s a leaderboard that shows who has the best brackets overall- including a couple hundred people who were perfect on the first day- as well as one for “celebs,” all of whom appear to be ESPN on-air personalities.
For those who aren’t so bracket-concerned, there’s also a news tab, as well as a tab touting different ESPN games, including a “Second Chance” bracket in which those who crashed out the first weekend can start over for next week’s games.
ESPN Tournament Challenge requires iOS 10.0 or later, 93.3 MB of storage and is free.
This is the first NCAA Tournament since the nationwide launch of The Athletic, a subscription sports website (and app) that has launched microsites in various cities and hired many of the best sportswriters in the country. The site’s college basketball section, The Fieldhouse, consists of predictions and insights from a large staff of writers, as well as picks of every game by the site’s college basketball editor, Seth Davis.
The Athletic requires iOS 9.3 or later, 82.7MB of storage space and is free, but the subscription requires an in-app purchase.
This is another bracket-management app, although in this case it’s off-brand (and heavily sponsored by 5-Hour Energy.) The hook is that it allows users to change picks during games. Users start each game with a certain amount of points, but can change their pick during the game, although they’re penalized points by doing so. Users can also switch picks before each round. It’s a unique, clever approach to tournament viewing, likely to appeal to fans of Daily Fantasy Sports. The only drawback? There’s no way to start using it once the tournament has already started.
Realtime Brackets requires 6MB of storage and iOS 10.0 or later and is free.
Here’s a fun one that’s worth the $1. Billed as “The Family Friendly March Basketball Tournament Bracket,” Mascot Madness pits the mascots of all of the tournament teams against each other, giving users a chance to pick their favorite for each tournament game. If nothing else, you’ll be surprised how many different Wildcats teams are active in this year’s Tourney. It’s crude animation, but a lot more fun than filling out your bracket on paper.
Mascot Madness requires 21.2MB of storage, iOS 9.0 or later and costs $1, while offering in-app purchases.
There are more apps to follow the tournament than there are teams. Let us know what your favorite apps are!