With less than two weeks left in college basketball's regular season, it's time to start thinking about Mars Madness. 2019 The NCAA tournament has some interesting stories already.
If Zion Williamson comes back from a knee injury before Mars Madness begins, his Duke Blue Devils will be the unmatched tournament favorite. Other known forces are in the running again this year, including Duke rivals Virginia and North Carolina from ACC, Kentucky and Tennessee from SEC, Michigan and Michigan State from Big Ten and Gonzaga from the West Coast Conference. Potential Cinderellas to watch out for this year's dance (and in your console) are Buffalo, Murray State and Wofford.
This year's tournament console will be revealed on Sunday, March 17th. Games begin on Tuesday March 19 with the first game-in games, but the madness doesn't really seem until the first full day of the tournament Thursday March 21, which should celebrate as a national holiday.
There are more ways than ever this year to watch Mars Madness, with or without cable subscriptions.
When are the games on?
With 68 teams invited to the big dance, NCCA has four game-in games to bring the field down to 64, whereupon the math seems to have four regional tournaments of 16 teams each. The winners of the four regional tournaments then continue to the Final Four, held in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
- March 19-20: First four recording games
- March 21-24: Rounds 1 and 2  March 28-29: Sweet Sixteen
- March 30-31: Elite Eight
- April 6: Final Four
- April 8: National Championship Game
What channels are the games on?
Mars Madness Games are featured on four channels: CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV. (Note: CNET is a breakdown of CBS.)
How can I watch for free?
Visit the NCAA's March Madness Live website or use its March Madness Live app and you'll be able to watch games for free. As with most things that are free, there is a catch.
To get full access to each game, you must log in with login details (username and password) from a pay-TV provider, usually your cable, satellite or live TV streaming service.
If you do not log in, you will be limited to just a preview of three hours, after which you will have to log in to continue watching games on TBS, TNT and TruTV. Games at CBS, meanwhile, do not require pay-TV data so you can stream them all for free.
What are my other streaming options?
Cord cutters can use a live TV streaming service to watch Mars Madness. However, in order to view CBS's coverage, you must ensure that the service carries your local CBS station. Some streaming services carry all four channels of Mars Madness, but others will require you to mix and match services, which can save money but can give a challenge when you frantically switch channels to capture a potential buzzer beater at the end of a close game.
Note: CNET may receive a share of the revenue from the sale of products available on this page.
Other Things to Know About Live TV Streaming Services:
Power Services with All Four Networks
DirecTV Now ($ 40)
DirecTV Now the cheapest, $ 40 a month Live a Little package includes CBS , TBS, TNT and truTV. Click here to check the availability of local live channels in your area.
Mix-and-match March Madness option
AT & T WatchTV ($ 15 or free) + CBS All Access ($ 6) = $ 21 or $ 6
AT & T WatchTV is a relative newcomer to the streaming game. It offers a more limited number of channels compared to its competitors but is much cheaper. It costs $ 15 a month for most, but AT&T wireless customers on qualified plans can get it for free. Among the 35 channels, Watch TV offers TBS, TNT and truTV.
At the same time, CBS All Access carries live CBS stations in many parts of the country (check the location to see if you are covered) for $ 6 a month. Combine the two and you can watch all tournament games for about half the cost of a more complete streaming service above.
Sling Blue ($ 25) + CBS All Access ($ 6) = $ 31
None of the Sling TV's plans offer CBS, but the 25-month Sling Blue plan includes TBS, TNT and truTV. Connect it to CBS All Access to download games at CBS and you still pay less than a competing streaming service of $ 31 per month.
OTA antenna for CBS games = free
Another option for watching games at CBS is to use an antenna to get free, over-the-air TV. You can connect a digital digital antenna to almost any TV, and sunny antennas start as little as $ 10.
Mars Madness in 4K
Subscribers to DirecTV's satellite service are for a treat this month. DirecTV will reportedly send march games from March 19-30 in both 4K and HDR.