How to Watch College Basketball 2022

We looked at dozens of TV providers to see which are best for watching college basketball and the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Editor's choice

Price: $49.99/mo. for 12 mos.

Tournament channels: CBS, CBS Sports Network, TBS, TNT, and truTV

Features: 12 mos. of Peacock Premium included, multiple DVR options

Contract length: 12 mos.

Best for cord-cutters

Price: $69.99–$75.99/mo.

Tournament channels: CBS, CBS Sports Network, TBS, TNT, and truTV

Features: 50-hr. Cloud DVR; ESPN+ and Disney+ included

Contract length: 1 mo.

Best value

Price: $35.00–$50.00/mo.

Tournament channels: TBS, TNT, and truTV

Features: 50-hr. Cloud DVR, 30+ add-on channels and packages

Contract length: 1 mo.

Live CBS Sports

Price: $4.99–$9.99/mo.

Tournament channels: CBS

Features: Live access to your local CBS station in Premium plan

Contract length: 1 mo.

Cheapest

Product: Over-the-air (OTA) HD TV antenna

Price: $20.00–$60.00 (one-time payment)

Tournament channels: CBS

Features: All local broadcast channels

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
CableTV.com utilizes paid Amazon links.

College basketball made its triumphant return this past November. As the 2021–2022 season carries on, you’ll want to make sure you’re set with the right channels to watch your favorite teams.

Spectrum TV® Select with the Sports View add-on is the best overall TV plan for watching the NCAA Division I men’s basketball regular season and the NCAA Tournament. It has one of the most comprehensive lineups of college basketball channels, including several conference-specific networks and every channel needed to watch both men’s and women’s March Madness.

For cord-cutters, Sling TV offers the best value at a relatively low price. Its plans have low channel counts, but you can mix and match plans and add-ons to curate a channel lineup that makes the most sense for your college basketball needs.

But if cost is a larger concern for you, a simple over-the-air (OTA) antenna might be the best choice if you’re okay with getting only nationally televised games on your local channels.

To help you weigh your options, we’ll look at the channels you need and how our top TV packages compare.

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The channels you need to watch college basketball

If you want to know how to catch every minute of college basketball on live TV, you’re in the right place. We’ll analyze it all by separating the NCAA Tournament from the college basketball regular season.

NCAA Tournament channels

You need only four channels to catch every moment of the men’s Big Dance:

  • CBS
  • TBS
  • TNT
  • truTV

If you’re interested in replays, you’ll also want CBS Sports Network (but you don’t need it). Almost every cable, satellite, and live TV streaming service carries all five of these tournament channels.

The two most important channels, though, are CBS and TBS. Both show a ton of tournament action every year, and the two networks alternate each year as the exclusive broadcasters of the Final Four and NCAA Championship Game. TBS gets the even years while CBS has the odd ones, meaning TBS will air this season’s final rounds come April 2022.

Besides these channels, you can also catch every live tournament game plus highlights and replays with the NCAA March Madness Live app by logging in with your TV provider.

Pro tip: For women’s March Madness action, you’ll need a different set of channels. Every game of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament will air nationally across ESPN’s networks. The main ESPN channel will air the women’s Final Four and the women’s NCAA championship game.

College basketball channels

The channels you need to watch the regular season of men’s college basketball really depends on two things: your location and your team.

Most casual fans will be content with CBS, ESPN, and FOX Sports. Those are the bread-and-butter sports channels that will deliver you a lot of the marquee college basketball matchups.

Freebie fans can also get a decent amount of free college basketball games on local channels like ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC. To access these free channels, you’ll need to connect a digital antenna to your smart TV. We’ll go into more detail about this further down.

If you want the most games possible, you’ll want a TV plan—probably cable—with your preferred conference’s dedicated channel and your local regional sports network (RSN). The best way to determine what channels you’ll need is to visit the schedule on your team’s official website. Most Division I college basketball teams will list the broadcaster(s) for each game on their schedule. From there, you’ll be able to see if you need one of these conference-specific channels or a regional sports network to get more coverage of your favorite team.

Conference channels:

  • ACC Network
  • Big Ten Network
  • Pac-12 Network
  • SEC Network

Regional sports networks:

  • Altitude Sports
  • AT&T SportsNet
  • Bally Sports
  • MSG Network
  • NBC Sports Regional Networks
  • New England Sports Network (NESN)
  • ROOT SPORTS

College basketball on ESPN+

In recent years, ESPN+ has become one of the prime locations to catch college sports—not just basketball. The streaming service currently has long-term agreements with more than 15 college conferences, including the Big 12, the Ivy League, and the Missouri Valley Conference, so you’ll get hundreds of collegiate basketball games all in one location.

If you want the most college basketball action, ESPN+ should be part of your game plan.

Best TV providers for college basketball

  • Editor’s choice: Spectrum—TV Select package ($49.99/mo. for 12 mos.) w/ Sports View ($6.00/mo.)
  • Best value: Sling TV—Blue package ($35.00/mo.)
  • Cheapest: OTA antenna ($20.00–$60.00 one-time purchase)

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Editor’s choice: Spectrum

Recommended plan:
TV Select ($49.99/mo. for 12 mos.) w/ Sports View ($6.00/mo.)
Tournament channels:
CBS, CBS Sports Network, TBS, TNT, and truTV
Conference channels:
ACCN, BTN, Pac-12 Network, and SEC Network

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Pros

  • Access to top conference channels
  • Wide regional sports network availability
  • Many channel add-on options

Cons

  • Smaller channel counts
  • Confusing DVR options

Among cable and satellite providers, we recommend Spectrum’s TV Select package ($49.99 a month) with the Sports View add-on ($6.00 a month). It has over 125 channels, including all five tournament channels and key regional sports networks (RSNs) likely in your area. Some cable and satellite providers have similarly priced plans with more total channels—but not those valuable RSNs.

If you’re interested in the conference channels, you’ll want to double-check Spectrum’s channel lineup for your location. Some conference channels are available only in certain areas. You may also need to upgrade with Spectrum’s Entertainment View add-on ($12.00 a month) for an expanded lineup of sports and entertainment channels.

View Spectrum plans

NCAA March Madness Live app

If you already have a cable, satellite, or live TV streaming service, you can sign in to the NCAA March Madness Live app with your provider credentials and watch every game in the tournament. It’s a great way to catch live games and highlights while on the go.

If you don’t have a TV service, you can still take advantage of the app’s free three-hour preview. That’s enough to watch at least one game for nothing.

Best value: Sling TV

Recommended plan:
Blue package ($35.00/mo.)
Tournament channels:
TBS, TNT, and truTV
Conference channels:
ACCN, BTN, Pac-12 Network, and SEC Network

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Pros

  • Low price
  • Customizable packages
  • No commitment

Cons

  • Poor local channel coverage
  • DVR for extra cost

Sling TV is the provider with the best value because it offers tons of college basketball action, especially when it comes to tournament games. You can get many major sports channels plus TBS, TNT, and truTV in Sling TV’s Blue plan for just $35.00 a month. That’ll cover you for most of the men’s NCAA Tournament in even years, such as the upcoming 2022 competition.

Unfortunately, Sling TV doesn’t have local channels. So in odd years, you’ll need to pair Sling TV with an OTA antenna to watch CBS’s live coverage of the Final Four and the NCAA Championship Game. Fortunately, Sling TV does have a deal where you can get a free antenna with your subscription.

If you want even more college basketball for a low additional price, you can get the Sports Extra ($11.00 a month) add-on. Its channels vary depending on what base plan you have, but the add-on grants access to conference channels like Big Ten Network (BTN), Pac-12 Network, SEC Network, and ACC Network (ACCN).

A major benefit of including conference channels in your TV plan is that you can also stream games through some of the channels’ dedicated apps. Keep scrolling to get the full play-by-play.

View Sling TV plans

Stream ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC basketball

We’ve broken down how you can stream some of the major college basketball conferences. Spoiler alert: you’ll need a TV provider login at the ready or a subscription to ESPN+ to access these Power Five streaming options.

Atlantic Coast Conference: ESPN owns and operates ACC Network (ACCN), which offers 150+ live men’s and women’s college basketball games per year. You can stream ACCN content through the ESPN app using a TV provider login.

Big Ten Conference: Because of the Big Ten and FOX Sports’ partnership, you can stream Big Ten Network (BTN) games using the FOX Sports app. You’ll need a TV provider login to get all the college basketball action, but FOX Sports channels and BTN are widely available in most mid-level TV plans.

Big 12 Conference: Big 12 fans might be surprised to know that you can get a lot of games through Big 12 Now on ESPN+ for $6.99 per month, which also has a ton of live college basketball from smaller conferences like the Sun Belt Conference.

Pacific-12 Conference: To stream Pac-12 games, you’ll need to make sure Pac-12 Network is in your TV plan. You can check the network’s TV provider availability on the Pac-12 website. From there, you can download the Pac-12 Now app to watch live games, studio shows, and other programming from the Conference of Champions.

Southeastern Conference: Like the ACC, the SEC’s dedicated channel is operated by ESPN. That means you can stream SEC Network content—including live college basketball games—on the ESPN app. Of course, you’ll need a TV plan that includes SEC Network in order to log in and watch those games.

Cheapest: Over-the-air (OTA) HD TV antenna

Recommended antenna:
Mohu Leaf Plus ($59.00–one-time payment)*
Tournament channels:
CBS
Features:
All local broadcast channels

CableTV.com utilizes paid Amazon links. Amazon.com Price; $59.00 (as of 03/22/22 9:00 a.m. MST). Read full disclaimer.

Pros

  • Low, one-time price
  • Local coverage

Cons

  • No out-of-market coverage
  • No DVR

If you’re not ready to commit to a monthly TV plan, then an over-the-air (OTA) digital antenna is the next best thing. You’ll be able to catch every college basketball game that airs on your local ABC, CBS, and FOX affiliate channels.

An antenna only gives you a small fraction of college basketball games. But it’ll come in especially handy in the springtime when CBS airs part of the NCAA Tournament. There are also a lot of other sports that you’ll have access to throughout the year, too.

We recommend the Mohu Leaf Plus antenna for $59.00 on Amazon—not bad for a one-time purchase—because it can receive TV signals within a 60-mile range. Depending on your location, that should get you the primary local channels needed for college basketball.

NCAA Tournament on Paramount+

Another cheap way to watch some of the NCAA Tournament is to sign up for Paramount+. Its $9.99 a month premium plan includes live CBS games and CBS Sports HQ coverage, as well as replays from CBS Sports Network.

A one-time TV antenna purchase can give you those same CBS games. But the extra coverage of CBS Sports HQ and CBS Sports Network alongside Paramount+’s immense movie and TV library is enough to warrant the monthly price.

How to watch college basketball for free

An OTA digital antenna is one of the easiest ways to get free access to live college basketball games. While the antenna itself will cost money, it’s only a one-time purchase that will benefit you for many seasons to come.

Ranging from $20 to $60, an antenna will give you every local network affiliate within range. Possible channels include ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC. Because CBS is home to NCAA Tournament matchups, an antenna can be very handy when it comes to watching the men’s side of March Madness.

We recommend the Mohu Leaf Plus ($59.00 on Amazon)* because of its 60-mile range and 4K capabilities.

Another way to watch college basketball without paying is to sign up for a free trial through a live TV streaming service. With careful planning and discipline, you could watch a solid amount of basketball before your trial expires. Just don’t forget to cancel on time, or that plan will ruin the free-ness.

Final take

Almost any cable, satellite, and live TV streaming provider will grant you access to some college basketball games. While tournament games will air on CBS, TBS, TNT, and truTV, you’ll also need access to conference channels and your RSN to watch regular season college basketball.

From a cable standpoint, Spectrum’s affordable TV Select plan and add-ons include the most college basketball channels, RSNs, and premium channels to hold you over when basketball isn’t on.

For cord-cutters, Sling TV is a great streaming option with excellent prices, lots of college basketball offerings, and sweet deals (free antenna, anyone?) for new customers.

If saving money is your goal, you’ll still be able to catch some regular season and tournament college basketball games on ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC with a one-time purchase of a digital antenna.

Methodology

Our experts spent over 40 hours researching TV providers and testing plans, apps, and other services to determine the best ways to watch college basketball this season. We compared these various viewing options by examining prices, channel lineups, and extra features.

To learn more about our methods, check out our How We Rank page.

How to watch college basketball FAQ

Can I watch March Madness for free?

You can watch select March Madness games for free using an OTA antenna like the Mohu Leaf. These devices run as cheap as $20 and are ridiculously easy to install. You’ll get many free local channels, including CBS—one of the main March Madness broadcasters.

Another way you could watch March Madness completely free is by signing up for a free (typically seven-day) trial offered by live TV streaming services like DIRECTV STREAM, Sling TV, and YouTube TV. When the trial runs its course, cancel it—then sign up for another (rinse, repeat). Three or four trials will carry you through the entire Big Dance.

Can I watch women’s March Madness?

The NCAA Division I women’s basketball tournament will air on ESPN’s networks and the ESPN app. For the first time ever, the 2022 tournament will extend to 68 teams and feature the “March Madness” branding.

Can I watch the NCAA Tournament on Hulu?

You can watch the NCAA Tournament if you subscribe to Hulu + Live TV, starting at $65.99 a month. With this plan, you’ll have access to CBS, TBS, TNT, and TruTV. Hulu + Live TV also includes CBS Sports Network, which airs select conference games and additional college basketball coverage.

On the flipside, Hulu + Live TV offers fewer conference channels than Sling TV and costs more per month than any of Sling TV’s plans–even if you also pay for Sling TV’s Sports Extra add-on.

Is there an app to watch March Madness?

The NCAA March Madness Live app has every single game plus replays. But after a free three-hour preview, you’ll need to log in with your credentials from a cable, satellite, or live TV streaming provider.

Can I stream the NCAA Tournament?

You can stream the NCAA Tournament by subscribing to a live TV streaming service such as DIRECTV STREAM, fuboTV, Sling TV, or YouTube TV. Another way would be to use your existing login credentials from a cable, satellite, or live TV streaming provider to log in to the NCAA March Madness Live app.

Disclaimer

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

*Amazon.com price as of 03/22/22 9:00 a.m. MST. Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. CableTV.com utilizes paid Amazon links.

Certain content that appears on this site comes from Amazon. This content is provided “as is” and is subject to change or removal at any time.

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