Since we did our very best to ignore the play-in games, the NCAA men's tournament officially kicks off with Clemson-West Virginia today just after noon EDT on CBS. In the olden times, watching the opening game required a 3D television (and by that I mean, of course, one that was more than three inches wide). No more. The television network demigods have been especially cruel to American employers this year: Turner Sports and CBS have made every single tournament game available for online streaming at the NCAA's website, March Madness On Demand (MMOD). We know you're probably dexterous enough to hastily click out of Deadspin windows in the office, so this shouldn't present any real problems.
The NCAA site also has a comprehensive score center that lists each game and where it will be broadcast — there are roughly four blocks of start times today (12:00, 2:30, 6:45, 9:15) with four games on four different channels (TBS, CBS, TNT, truTV). The staggering here is nice — one could potentially go without missing a live ending to any first round game — but I'm still going to miss the CBS-only days, when it could feel like the RedZone Channel at times.
So if you're lucky enough to work from home or in a sports bar, the TV package should be all you need (truTV is available on most cable packages; you just may have to hunt for it or check your listings). But if hastily clicking out of MMOD in the office all day is a hassle for you, or, worse, if your place of work has unconscionably blocked the site for the month, there are still options. The first option is, you should probably buy an iPhone, and iPad, or an iPod touch if by some unheard of chance you don't already own one. The second option is, you should probably sit next to a coworker who owns one of those devices, because Apple now has a monopoly on college sports, too.
Turner and CBS are providing a free app that will stream all games on an Apple handheld with a 3G or WiFi connection. If you're lucky enough to have access to one of these things at work, be smart about your usage. Take your lunch break during the last ten minutes or so of the second half of a game you really care about. Follow scores online and plan a coffee or cigarette break during the last few minutes of overtime just so you can see Duke lose in the first round (unlikely, but still). Save your questionable sick day for one of the better schedules (like when Duke loses in the second round, for example).
And of course, the back-up plan to your back-up plan: bootleg sites. Our personal favorite, even after the homeland security bust, is still ATDHE.Net (now at http://atdhenet.tv/), but there are others out there. Share your tips and bootleg sites in the comments, and join us for our open threads. Commit yourself to workplace mediocrity for the next few days. We're all in this together.
Here are the times, locations, channels and announcers for all of today's games, via SB Nation:
THURSDAY AFTERNOON, MARCH 17 (12:00 Noon - 5, ET)
12:15, CBS, Tampa — West Virginia vs. Clemson (Ian Eagle/Jim Spanarkel)
12:40, truTV, Wash. D.C. — Butler vs. Old Dominion (Tim Brando/Mike Gminski)
1:40, TBS, Denver—Louisville vs. Morehead St. (Verne Lundquist/Bill Raftery)
2:10, TNT, Tucson — Temple vs. Penn St. (Kevin Harlan/Reggie Miller/Dan Bonner)
2:45, CBS, Tampa — Kentucky vs. Princeton (Ian Eagle/Jim Spanarkel)
3:10, truTV, Wash. D.C. — Pittsburgh vs. Asheville (Tim Brando/Mike Gminski)
4:10, TBS, Denver — Vanderbilt vs. Richmond (Verne Lundquist/Bill Raftery)
4:40, TNT, Tucson — San Diego St. vs. Northern Colorado (Kevin Harlan/Reggie Miller/Dan Bonner)
THURSDAY EVENING, MARCH 17 (6:30 - Midnight, ET)
6:50, TBS, Tampa — Florida vs. UC Santa Barbara (Ian Eagle/Jim Spanarkel)
7:15, CBS, Denver — BYU vs. Wofford (Verne Lundquist/Bill Raftery)
7:20, TNT, Wash D.C. — Connecticut vs. Bucknell (Tim Brando/Mike Gminski)
7:27, truTV, Tucson — Wisconsin vs. Belmont (Kevin Harlan/Reggie Miller/Dan Bonner)
9:20, TBS, Tampa — UCLA vs. Michigan St. (Ian Eagle/Jim Spanarkel)
9:45, CBS, Denver — St. John's vs. Gonzaga (Verne Lundquist/Bill Raftery)
9:45, TNT, Wash. D.C. — Cincinnati vs. Missouri (Tim Brando/Mike Gminski)
9:57, truTV, Tucson — Kansas St. vs. Utah St. (Kevin Harlan/Reggie Miller/Dan Bonner)