Watching Men’s NCAA College Basketball without cable requires a mix of local channels, ESPN networks and even beIN Sports.
You can watch many of your favorite teams for free or on the cheap. And you don’t need to rely on some shady streaming link you found on Reddit, or a pricey cable bundle from Spectrum or Comcast.
This article gives you a rough outline to work from — with a cord cutter’s budget in mind. Here are your two cheapest options off the top.
If you live within the range of TV broadcast towers, chances are you can watch college basketball games on ABC, CBS and FOX for free.
What? You don’t know anything about TV antennas? My guide on how to choose the best TV antenna has all the basics you need to start (legally) enjoying free live TV.
This season, College Basketball on ESPN+ will feature games from 15+ conferences, including Big 12 and Atlantic 10.
A subscription to ESPN+ costs $5.99 per month and upgrades your ESPN app by unlocking live sports, a deep library of 30 for 30 episodes and ESPN+ Originals such as NFL Primetime and Peyton’s Places (Season 2).
You can sign up for ESPN+ and it will cost you about the same as a movie rental.
Top Pick: Watch NCAA Basketball without cable
fuboTV has every channel you’ll need for watching college basketball during the 2020-21 season.
And for basketball fans demanding the highest picture resolution possible, fuboTV is the only live TV streaming service airing NCAA games in 4K on FS1 and FOX.
Because of the better resolution and overall channel package, fuboTV is my top pick for watching college basketball this season without cable.
fuboTV has local channels such as ABC, CBS and FOX for NCAA games. ESPN, FS1, CBS Sports Network are included.
You can use your fuboTV account to activate the ESPN app and watch games on ESPN3 and Longhorn Network. And you’ll be covered for conferences that air on Big Ten Network, ACC Network, PAC-12 and beIN Sports.
Subscribers to the “fubo Family” plan get 120 channels, 250 hours of Cloud DVR and up to 130+ on-demand programs and events in 4K.
The fubo Family plan costs $64.99 per month, and includes a free 7-day trial for new customers.
fuboTV works on Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast with Google TV, Apple TV, PCs, Macs and smartphones. You can look over the channel lineup to see what local channels and regional sports networks are available in your area.
(Note: The fuboTV standard channel bundle priced at $59.99 no longer exists.)
Live Stream College Basketball on Hulu + Live TV
Hulu with Live TV also has widespread coverage of local ABC, CBS and FOX stations along with ESPN.
The channel lineup also has ESPN2, FS1, NBCSN, Big Ten Network and SEC Network.
Subscribers get 65+ live TV channels for $64.99 per month (this is the new price starting Dec. 18).
Hulu only offers one channel bundle for live TV, but also rolls in its on-demand streaming service. It’s the same on-demand library that people pay $5.99 per month for. So you’re getting two streaming services within the Hulu app.
A Hulu + Live TV subscription also activates the ESPN app, giving you access to ESPN3 and Longhorn Network. Hulu lets you see what local and regional sports channels are offered in your area before signing up.
Hulu with Live TV has a free 7-day trial. You can cancel your account anytime without any obligations or contracts.
Even if you already subscribe to Hulu on-demand, you can still use the free trial to try out its live TV service.
Budget pick for ESPN: Sling TV
Sling TV is the best option for someone who wants ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3 on the cheap, but can get locals on their own with a TV antenna.
Sling Orange has all three ESPN networks mentioned above, and fills out its 30+ channel bundle with entertainment and news networks. A subscription costs $30 per month and includes 10 hours of Cloud DVR.
Sling Blue has FS1, NBC Sports, and NBC regional sports networks. The Blue plan also costs $30 per month. If you want all of those channels mentioned above, then you can combine Sling Orange and Blue for $45 per month.
The Sports Extra bundle also has channels that carry college football games. Sports Extra includes beIN Sports, SEC Network, PAC 12 Network, ACC Network, ACC Network Extra and Longhorn Network. The Sports Extra bundle costs $15 per month.
If you rolled Sling Orange, Blue and Sports Extra together, it’s $60 per month. That’s pretty close to what you’d be paying for Hulu or fuboTV without the widespread coverage for local ABC, CBS and FOX stations.
So I think Sling TV is a better fit for someone who is just looking for a few key channels for college basketball games. Not everyone needs 60 or 100 channels to watch their favorite college players or teams.
If you’re a Sling Orange subscriber, you can also use your account to activate the ESPN app. Activating the app unlocks ESPN3 and Longhorn Network, so you can watch NCAA games on those channels.
Sling TV does have local NBC and FOX stations in about a dozen cities. My Sling TV channel guide has a map showing where locals are offered. Sling TV works on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, PCs and smartphones.
New customers can sign up for a free 3-day trial.
(Note: Sling TV also has a Black Friday promotion where customers signing up for Sling Orange or Blue can get one month of free service after paying for a month of service.)
YouTube TV: Watch College Basketball Live Online
YouTube TV has 85+ channels, including local ABC, FOX and CBS stations. There’s ESPN, ESPN2 and Big Ten Network.
A subscription costs $64.99 per month, and includes unlimited Cloud DVR.
A subscription costs $64.99 per month. YouTube has a free 7-day trial. You can watch YouTube TV on Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV and Android TV devices such as Google Chomecast.
What’s the best way to watch college basketball without cable?
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for college basketball fans. It’s always good to look over the ESPN calendar for college basketball games to get an idea of what you need.
But if you just want a streaming service that gives you every possible channel, then I think fuboTV is going to be your best bet.
fubo has the largest channel lineup (120+ channels), including some NCAA games in 4K if you have a 4K TV and compatible streaming device.
If you can get some free local channels with a TV antenna, and you’re not watching every NCAA game, then a Sling TV subscription at $30 a month is a good budget option. Sling TV has a free 3-day trial. But during its Black Friday sale, Sling TV will give you a second month of service for free.
Another inexpensive streaming combo could be signing up for Sling TV and ESPN+. Or an ESPN+ subscription and a TV antenna, depending on what teams you want to watch.
Founder and Editor of The Cord Cutting Report. Before launching the site in 2016, he worked for more than two decades as a staff writer or correspondent for a number of daily newspapers, including The Boston Globe. His enthusiasm for tech began with the Atari 2600. Follow @james_kimble