We’ve often said the toughest thing about cutting the cord is replacing live sports. Luckily, things are changing fast, and it’s easier than ever to stream sports such as NCAA basketball without cable. Sure, college basketball games are available on cable and satellite, but those aren’t your only options. There are tons of ways to watch NCAA basketball games between powerhouse teams on CBS, ESPN, and other networks without paying for cable. Let us show you how!
What channels have college basketball?
To watch live college basketball without cable, you’ll need to access channels that have college basketball. But which channels are those? There are tons of channels that carry at least one college basketball game each season, so let’s run through a list of some of the big ones you’ll want to target.
- CBS: Home to some of college basketball’s biggest games — including the biggest March Madness games — CBS is an absolute must-have for any college basketball fan.
- ESPN: Like its fellow Disney-owned channel ABC, ESPN has plenty of college basketball games from top conferences. You can also catch games on its sister channels ESPN2 and ESPNU, as well as on its direct-to-consumer streaming app, ESPN Plus.
- FOX: Like fellow major networks ABC and CBS, FOX offers some big-time college basketball games — although it often bumps its coverage to its sports network, FS1.
- FS1: Fox’s sports network is a must-have for fans of college ball, and so is its sister network FS2.
- Conference networks: Many major college basketball conferences have their own dedicated channels. If the big game isn’t on ESPN or CBS, you may want to check out ACC Network, Big Ten Network, SEC Network, or whichever conference network is appropriate. There are also some team-specific networks, such as Longhorn Network for the University of Texas.
- Regional sports networks (RSNs): RSNs are sports-focused networks that are available only in a limited region. They’re the sort of channels your favorite basketball and baseball teams play on — channels such as NESN, MSG, and FOX Sports Midwest. Some of these networks show college basketball games featuring local teams or conferences.
- Stadium: This sports-focused network is your home for mid-major conferences like the Atlantic 10, Ivy League, and MAC.
- TBS, TNT, and TruTV: These channels don’t typically show college basketball games, but they become very important during March Madness.
Let's find ways to watch these channels without cable!
How to watch college basketball online or over the air
Watching college basketball means finding ways to watch TV channels live without cable, and there are more ways to do that every day. First and foremost, there are live TV streaming services; these cable-like streaming services collect a bundle of live channels for your streaming pleasure. They’re typically smaller (or “skinnier”) than the cable or satellite bundles you may be used to, and they’re also typically cheaper.
Hulu’s skinny-bundle service is a great choice for college basketball fans. ABC, CBS, ESPN, FOX, FS1, NBCSN, TBS, TNT, and TruTV are all available, as are some regional and conference-specific networks, such as SEC Network.
fuboTV bills itself as the sports-focused skinny bundle, and the fuboTV channel lineup backs up that claim. fuboTV’s selection includes CBS, ESPN, FOX, FS1, NBCSN, Stadium, TBS, TNT, and TruTV, plus some regional and conference-specific networks.
Sling TV lacks most of the major networks, but it has a lot of the other channels you’ll need to watch college basketball: ESPN, FS1, NBCSN, Stadium, TBS, TNT, TruTV, and a decent selection of regional and conference-specific networks. If you’re also using an over-the-air (OTA) antenna, the combination of Sling TV and OTA can give you pretty comprehensive college basketball coverage for a very low price. If you don’t have an antenna, you can still get NBC and FOX in some markets using Sling TV, although the list of markets is pretty limited.
Disney’s sports streaming service, ESPN Plus, is not a livestream of the flagship ESPN channel. Instead, it’s a standalone offering full of live and on-demand sports content. You can count on some college basketball games to turn up here, but don’t assume they’ll be the biggest matchups.
Paramount Plus arrived on the scene in early 2021, just before the start of March Madness. Like its predecessor, CBS All Access, Paramount Plus offers a livestream of CBS in select markets. If your market is one of the lucky ones, then you can use this service to watch college basketball games on CBS.
YouTube TV is Google’s version of the live streaming service. It’s an excellent choice to watch college basketball without cable, because it includes ABC, CBS, ESPN, FOX, FS1, NBCSN, TBS, TNT, and TruTV. It also has RSNs and conference-specific networks.
Free Over-the-Air TV
OTA TV is one of the most underused options in the cord-cutting universe. With nothing more than an antenna and a TV, you can watch local channels for free! It depends a bit on where you live, but those channels are likely to include local affiliates of the major networks. Since ABC, CBS, and FOX all air college basketball games, free OTA TV is one of your best options for watching college basketball for free without cable.
NCAA March Madness Live
CBS, TruTV, and the rest of the March Madness providers offer all their broadcasts free online to cable, satellite, skinny-bundle, and other pay-TV subscribers. Even non-subscribers can watch a limited amount for free on the NCAA March Madness Live app though. If you save your free viewing time for a big game and combine the app with OTA TV, you could watch a lot for free. And if you have a skinny-bundle subscription, you could use the app to watch as much as you want!
Can I watch college basketball on Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, or Chromecast?
There are a lot of great ways to watch NCAA basketball online, but can you use your Roku, Fire TV, or other streaming device to do it? It depends on your device, but generally the answer is yes. Check the chart below to see which devices will let you watch NCAA basketball without cable.
|Roku||Fire TV||Apple TV||Android TV||Chromecast||iOS||Android||Web browser|
|Hulu + Live TV||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Paramount Plus and ESPN Plus also work with every device on the list.
Let's Stream Even More Basketball
Now you know how to watch NCAA basketball without cable, but the college basketball season is relatively short — especially compared to the NBA. If the tournament is over and you still need a basketball fix, check out our guide to watching NBA basketball without cable.
One thought on “The Cord Cutter’s Guide to Streaming NCAA Basketball”
Kodi has been blowing smoke & BS for a long time – particularly relative to March Madness. I’m in Portugal, an old man, password sharing – means what? Tonite I was watching ESN talk basketball for about 2 hours waiting for one of the Final four games – nothing! My school is playing in the Final Four – where can I watch a game & then the finals if they should win today. Thanks for any help.