March Madness Channels: What Channel is the NCAA Tournament On?

when does march madness start

March Madness channels

It’s about that time of year again: March Madness is back! And like other sports fans, you want to watch all the action — every hoop, every upset, every buzzer beater. With that in mind, you might be wondering: What are the March Madness channels showing games this season? As has been the case the last few years, March Madness is split across four channels: CBS, TBS, TNT, and TruTV.

No longer do you have to depend on just CBS giving you the regional game you’re hoping for to get your proper March Madness TV fix. Now, you can watch multiple March Madness channels and be able to watch absolutely any NCAA Tournament game you like — even if you don’t have cable.


Can You Get the March Madness Channels without Cable?

Sling TV

You might already be aware that CBS is a free, over-the-air network, so no cable needed there. If you don’t have an antenna or a setup to watch over-the-air-TV, no sweat: you can watch CBS games online with no cable subscription (and CBS games only, other than for an unannounced “preview” period of non-CBS games that otherwise call for a cable contract) with the March Madness Live app. is likely to show those games as well.

But what about TBS, TNT, and TruTV?  These channels will be carrying around 70% of the tournament action, and TBS will be home for the Final Four and National Championship. Can you watch these March Madness channels legally without cable? The answer, I’m pleased to say, is “yes!” Sling TV (review) is your salvation.

Sling TV carries all the non-CBS March Madness channels: TBS, TNT, and TruTV, and once we get down to the championship game, that’s all you’ll need. The championship game itself, with its neutral announcers, will be aired on TBS. But there is another new wrinkle this year: the championship game will also be on TNT and TruTV,  with team-specific, “homer” coverage. So if the championship game is, say, Michigan State vs. North Carolina, on TruTV you’ may get the Michigan State angles, perspectives, and fans, and on TNT, North Carolina’s, while TBS will handle the national, impartial coverage.

It’s nigh on impossible to beat Sling TV. It allows you to cut cable in more ways than one: you can watch it online on your computer, and there are no contracts, so you can cancel anytime. Not only is Sling TV a sweet, sweet $20 a month, but you also get a 7-day free trial beforehand to give it a test drive and see how you like it.  For that price, you get not just the above channels, but scads more including staples like CNN, A&E, and ESPN.  Did I mention you get not just live TV, but a selection of on-demand episodes of your favorite shows, too? Yep.

Best of all, Sling TV is teaming up with Roku to give you an outstanding deal: Sign up with Sling TV, and get hooked up with a free Roku 2 box or half off a Roku 3 box. It may be especially prudent to opt for the former; according to CNET, “the Roku 2 is just as fast as the Roku 3 and its lower price makes it a better overall value.” That “lower price” is $69.99. So if you go that route, it’s like you’re getting 3 months free of Sling TV plus a free trial week plus $10 off a Roku 2 box. How can you beat that? You can’t.


What’s the March Madness TV Schedule for 2016?

*All times listed in Eastern Time

*All games on TBS, TNT, and TruTV available on Sling TV

Tuesday, March 15

6:30 p.m. Florida Gulf Coast vs Fairleigh Dickinson (TruTV)

9 p.m. Vanderbilt vs. Wichita St. (TruTV)

Wednesday, March 16

6:30 p.m. Holy Cross vs. Southern U. (TruTV)

9 p.m. Michigan vs. Tulsa (TruTV)

Thursday, March 17 – First Round

12:15 PM Duke vs. North Carolina Wilmington (CBS)

12:40 PM Texas Tech vs. Butler (TruTV)

1:30 PM Colorado vs. Connecticut (TNT)

2:00 PM Iowa State  vs. Iona (TBS)

2:40 PM Baylor vs. Yale (CBS)

3:10 PM Virginia vs. Hampton (TruTV)

3:50 PM Kansas vs. Austin Peay (TNT)

4:20 PM Purdue vs. Arkansas-Little Rock (TBS)

6:50 PM Miami vs. Buffalo (TNT)

7:10 PM Indiana vs. Chattanooga (CBS)

7:20 PM North Carolina vs. Florida Gulf Coast/Fairleigh Dickinson (TBS)

7:25 PM Utah vs. Fresno State (TruTV)

9:15 PM Arizona vs. Vanderbilt/Wichita State (TNT)

9:30 PM Kentucky vs. Stony Brook (CBS)

9:45 PM Southern California (USC) vs. Providence (TBS)

9:55 PM Seton Hall vs. Gonzaga (TruTV)

Friday, March 18 – First Round

12:15 PM Dayton vs. Syracuse (CBS)

12:40 PM Villanova vs. UNC Asheville (TruTV)

1:30 PM Oregon St. vs. VCU (TNT)

2:00 PM California vs. Hawaii (TBS)

2:40 PM Michigan St. vs. Middle Tennessee St (CBS)

3:00 PM Iowa vs. Temple (TruTV)

3:50 PM Oklahoma vs. CSU Bakersfield (TNT)

4:20 PM Maryland vs. South Dakota St. (TBS)

6:50 PM Wisconsin vs. Pittsburgh (TNT)

7:10 PM West Virginia vs. Stephen F. Austin (CBS)

7:20 PM Texas A&M vs. UW-Green Bay (TBS)

7:25 PM Oregon vs. Holy Cross/Southern U. (TruTV)

9:15 PM Xavier vs. Weber St. (TNT)

9:30 PM Notre Dame vs. Michigan/Tulsa (CBS)

9:45 PM Texas vs. Northern Iowa (TBS)

9:55 PM St. Joseph’s vs. Cincinnati (TruTV)

Saturday, March 19 – Sunday, March 20

Games TBA (TBS, TNT, TruTV, CBS)

Thursday, March 24 – 25 

Sweet 16 (TBS, CBS)

Saturday, March 26 – 27

Elite 8 (TBS, CBS)

Saturday, April 2

Final Four (TBS, “homer coverage” on TNT and TruTV)

Monday, April 4

National Championship (TBS, “homer coverage” on TNT and TruTV)


To learn more, check out our full guide to watching NCAA basketball online.








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