If you are a college basketball fan, this is the time of year that you live for. You're either happy that your team got in, or you're upset that your 30 win team was left out of the big dance. Either way, you're going to watch the action and keep up on the scores and news that come out of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. These apps and your Android device will keep you current on the Tournament happenings, even when you are away from the TV.
NCAA March Madness Live
Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. – Market Link
Leading the pack has to be the official March Madness app from NCAA TV partner Turner Sports. The basic app, including live audio of all 67 games is available free of charge for Froyo and Gingerbread devices. Sadly, tablets and ICS phones don't appear to be supported at this time.
The feature list for the app:
- Live game radio of all 67 games
- Live social chatter for teams in every game
- Fill out your official NCAA Bracket Challenge bracket right from your Android
- Track the entire bracket live throughout the tournament
- Get alerts for upsets, overtimes, crunch time (close games), and your favorite teams
- Post directly to Facebook and Twitter
- Use My Channels to see where each game is – TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV
And for the low, low price of $3.99 you'll get these features added to the app:
- Watch the NCAA Basketball Selection Show live on Sunday, March 11
- Watch LIVE streaming of all 67 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament games
- Watch a live stream of team practices for the Final Four®
- Watch highlights of all 67 games; highlights available right after each game
- Take it with you: Buy it once and use the March Madness Live account you create to login on your computer.
Thinking back, I don't recall if live streaming was even offered in the mobile apps last year or if was just that Android wasn't supported, but I didn't have it on my days old Thunderbolt for last year's tournament. I certainly won't be without it this year.
A great feature of the app is the ability to log in and test your bracket picking skills in the official NCAA Bracket Challenge. You'll only win bragging rights if your picks are the best, but I enter every year just to see how badly I do against national competition.
The biggest benefits to the $4 upgrade are obviously being able to stream live games to your phone, but also the larger benefit of getting the games on your computer as well. If you have access to a computer while you're sitting at work, you'll get preferred access to live streams that free streamers won't get.
Sadly, if you have an Android tablet running Honeycomb or ICS you are SOL. None of these tablets are supported in the first version of the app and it doesn't appear that they will be in time for the opening round of games on Tuesday.
ESPN Bracket Bound 2012
ESPN, Inc. – Market Link
Thankfully, ESPN couldn't get the rights to lock down the NCAA Tournament on their group of ESPN channels, but that's not stopping them from creating a killer app for the tournament.
Bracket Bound 2012 is listed with these features:
- Nightly video highlights and video analysis from ESPN College Basketball experts.
- Latest news, columns and blogs from Andy Katz, Doug Gottlieb, Jay Bilas and others.
- Live game-following experiences from around the nation plus live game streaming for authenticated WatchESPN users.
- Aggregated Twitter feed featuring ESPN College Basketball talent.
- Ability to customize the app with your favorite team for easy access to schedules, custom news, video, Twitter and more.
- Joe Lunardi's Bracketology featuring who's in and who's out of the tournament.
As a side note, ESPN is listing live game streaming as a feature of this app, but neither ESPN, ABC Sports nor their corporate parent Disney are in any way involved with the NCAA Tournament broadcasts. I'm not certain what games they will be streaming live on Watch ESPN, but they won't have NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament games.
You can also test your bracket building skills in the ESPN Tournament Challenge contest. One lucky winner will receive a $10,000 Best Buy gift card.
If you log in with your ESPN.com account, you'll get a tab for your favorite team added to the menu bar. On this tab you'll get all of the news, video and schedule information for team of choice.
I hate what ESPN does to my DirecTV bill, and I hate that they employ the two angry guys (Digger Phelps and Bobby Knight), but no network has better all day, every day coverage of sports.
Yahoo Tourney Pick'em
Yahoo, Inc. – Market Link
Yahoo isn't my first choice for sports news and commentary, but they do a descent enough job of covering all of the major sporting events. To me, the one big draw for this app is the ability to participate in the Yahoo Tourney Pick'em bracket challenge.
Their news and post game stories as well as live game scoring are included in the app as well, but this isn't the first place that I would go for tournament scores and news.