It’s NCAA Tournament time on television, radio and digital platforms. Here’s how to find and track your teams and even play to win the $1 million bracket challenge.
Let us know if you have other questions, and we’ll do our best to answer them.
NCAA BASKETBALL on TV
Q: When do the games begin?
A: The tournament tips off Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. with the NCAA First Four™ on truTV, pairing North Carolina A&T against Liberty University for the right to meet overall No. 1 Louisville. In the second game, at about 9 p.m., Middle Tennessee State and St. Mary’s play for the 11 seed in the Midwest Region. On Wednesday night, LIU-Brooklyn and James Madison (6:30 p.m.) play for the right to face Indiana, and Boise State and La Salle (9 p.m.) play for the 13 seed in the West Region.
Winners of those games will be slotted into second-round games Thursday and Friday. Games begin on WRAL-TV (CBS) Thursday at noon. The four participating networks, including WRAL-TV (CBS) will have four games apiece Thursday and Friday.
Q: What does this mean for soaps and primetime programs and the evening news?
A: Soap opera fans and viewers of primetime programs need not worry that the basketball tournament will cause them to miss an episode. The following shows will not air anywhere in the country on Thursday, March 21, and Friday, March 22:
The Bold and The Beautiful
Let’s Make a Deal
The Young and the Restless
The Big Bang Theory
Two and a Half Men
Person of Interest
Find the full WRAL-TV schedule here
New episodes of soap operas return Monday, March 25. The primetime programs return during the first week in April at their regular times.
WRAL’s late night newscast is scheduled to begin after the games, at about midnight on Thursday and Friday nights.
Q: Who has the television rights?
A: Two years ago CBS Sports entered a long-term partnership with Turner Sports to televise every single game in its entirety.
The good news is that viewers with access to CBS, TNT, TBS and truTV are able to watch the game of their choice at any time. However, those who do not have access to cable or satellite may be disappointed in the games that CBS provides to WRAL-TV in the early rounds. As part of this arrangement, WRAL-TV has no say in what games we air, including those of our local teams.
Q: Why is this good for viewers?
A: The NCAA’s 14-year contract with CBS and Turner Sports makes every tournament game available in its entirety on TV nationwide.
No longer are fans subject to the decision of the network of when to switch away from a game, and no longer will you have to wait for your game to be “joined in progress.” If you have access to all four networks, you can customize your viewing to see the games you want from start to finish, and you can switch from game to game whenever you choose.
The broadcast windows are staggered in such a fashion that a fan can essentially watch wall-to-wall basketball all day and all night.
Q: How do the networks divvy up the games?
A: Over the course of the 67 games of the tournament, 26 air on CBS/WRAL (including the Final Four and championship game), 16 on TBS, 12 on TNT and 13 on truTV.
CBS television stations across the country, including WRAL, do not have any choice of what games to air, even regarding teams of local interest. The national game selections are determined by CBS and the three Turner networks.
Q: Will WRAL carry the games featuring local teams?
A: Not necessarily. WRAL has no choice in what game it airs. The station carries whatever game CBS chooses to broadcast nationally.
Q: Can CBS/WRAL pick any game it wants?
A: Actually the networks pick “locations” instead of “games” for each broadcast window. The networks evaluate the interest in the combination of the two games being played at each site and make a selection accordingly.
In each broadcast window (afternoon and evening), CBS will stick to a single site, not take one game from one site and the second game from another.
Q: If a game is a blowout, will the network shift to another, more competitive game?
A: No. Each network must stay with the game that they were scheduled to broadcast. This puts the power in the hands of the viewer. You can change the channel to see a closer game or decide to stay with one until the end.
Q: Will the network switch to another game when a game ends early?
A: CBS is not permitted to take viewers to other games in progress other than a brief “look-in.” (Each network is only allowed a total of three minutes of “look-ins” during the course of a given time block.) If you choose to stay on a single channel, you will see studio updates, highlights and possibly brief “look-ins” between games, schedule permitting.
Q: Will the games be available in high definition?
A: All games on WRAL are in high definition. The three Turner networks have the games in high definition on their respective HD channels. Check with your cable or satellite provider to confirm whether you can receive the Turner channels in HD.
Q: Will any games be simulcast on more than one network?
A: No. Each of the games are shown nationally and independently.
Q: What if viewers do not have access to TBS, TNT or truTV?
A: Unfortunately, fans who do not have cable or satellite, or whose channel lineups do not include all three Turner networks, do not have access to those games on TV. Any game that is not assigned to CBS is shown on one of the Turner networks only.
CBS and the NCAA are cooperating to offer some online games. See below for how to access “March Madness on Demand.”
NCAA basketball on Radio
Q: When I listen to NCAA games on local sports radio?
A: Both 99.9FM The Fan ESPN Radio and 620AM The Buzz will air live play-by-play of NCAA Tournament games up to and including the national championship.
On Tuesday, 620 The Buzz will have coverage of “The First Four” starting at 6:30 p.m. after “The Coach P Show.”
On Wednesday, the First Four begins at 6:30 p.m. on 620 The Buzz. 99.9 The Fan will also join coverage of the first game at 8 p.m. following Canes Corner. Game 2 will be heard exclusively on 99.9 The Fan.
The second round tips off at noon on Thursday on 99.9 The Fan. NCAA games can be heard on 620 The Buzz Thursday night while The Fan carries normal coverage of the Carolina Hurricanes game against New Jersey.
All Friday, Saturday and Sunday games will be broadcast on the The Fan.
The action on Thursday and Friday will be preceded by a special edition of “The Adam and Joe Show” from 10 a.m. to noon.
The Sweet 16 tips off on March 28 with games airing on 620 The Buzz. 99.9 The Fan will join the action in progress following coverage of The Carolina Hurricanes vs. The Toronto Maple Leafs.
Games on Friday, March 29, air on 99.9 The Fan beginning at 7 p.m.
Coverage of the Elite Eight begins Saturday, March 30, with action on 620 The Buzz airing the first game starting at 4 p.m.
99.9 The Fan will join the action in progress following coverage of the Carolina Hurricanes vs. the Winnipeg Jets. The Fan will air the second game in its entirety.
The action continues with two games on 99.9 The Fan on Sunday March 31 at 2 p.m.
The national semifinal games will air on 620 The Buzz Saturday, April 6, beginning at 4:30 p.m. 99.9 The Fan joins the coverage at the conclusion ofthe Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Rangers contest.
The NCAA men’s basketball championship tips off at 9 p.m. Monday, April 8, on 620 The Buzz. Pregame coverage will begin following the conclusion of the Durham Bulls home opener versus Gwinnett. Should the Bulls game run long, the conclusion of that contest will switch to 99.9 HD3 The Ticket at tipoff of the basketball game.
620 The Buzz will air all of Duke University’s games in the NCAA Tournament in their entirety via the Duke/IMG Radio Network.
Note: Due to contractual restrictions, NCAA Tournament games cannot be streamed on WRALSportsFan.com or on The WRALSportsFan App.
Q: What happens to Adam & Joe’s afternoon radio show during the games?
A: Adam and Joe will broadcast a special edition of their show on Thursday and Friday, March 21 and 22, from 10 a.m. to noon. The Fan will be airing basketball play-by-play during their normal time slot.
Adam and Joe will take their show on the road to Atlanta on April 5 and 8 as they broadcast live from Radio Row at The Final Four.
Q: What about coverage of the Carolina Hurricanes?
A: Carolina Hurricanes games, including the pregame “Stormfront” and postgame “Aftermath,” will air as scheduled on 99.9FM The Fan throughout the NCAA Tournament.
Click for the complete Carolina Hurricanes schedule.
Q: Can I listen to games on The Fan and The Buzz online or on my mobile phone?
A: Unfortunately, no. The contract to broadcast NCAA games covers only radio, not our digital stream.
Track the NCAA Tournament on WRALSportsFan.com
Log on to WRALSportsFan.com for round-the-clock coverage on the Road to the Final Four. Track the the bracket with matchups, real-time score updates, game summaries and box scores.
Keep up with the four-network television schedule and where to find your games on radio.
After the games, go behind the scenes with streaming video and audio of postgame interviews with the players and coaches and relive all the action with round-by-round photo galleries.
All of our coverage – schedules, scores, brackets, stories, and video and audio interviews – is available on WRAL Mobile and in our apps for iPhone, Android and Blackberry.
You can even get in the game with the $1 Million Bracket Challenge. Compete against fans across the country and our experts to see whose picks make the cut.
If you’d rather play for fun, try the Tobacco Road Shootout where you can sink hoops to improve the overall score of your Triangle team.
Elsewhere on the Web
“NCAA March Madness Live,” a cooperative effort of the NCAA, Turner Sports and CBS Sports will offer live streaming game streaming over the internet. All CBS games will be available without registration or charge. Games broadcast by the Turner networks will require that viewers logged in with their cable or satellite provider.
The player includes an interactive Twitter stream and a “Boss Button” to quickly make it look like an email program. Fans will also have access to live radio broadcasts, courtesy of Westwood One/Dial Global Radio Network, for all 67 games.
“NCAA March Madness Live” will work on computers, smart phones, the iPad and tablets with the Android 4.0+ operating system, the iPhone 5 and the iPad mini.
WRALSportsFan and individual reporters are also active on Twitter. You can follow them as they follow the games or connect to headlines and updates from WRALSportsFan at Twitter.com/WRALsportsfan.
Thanks to WRAL.com & WRALSportsFan.com for this capcom story & graphic.