March Madness live stream: how to watch 2021 NCAA basketball for free today

March Madness – the annual NCAA men’s basketball tournament – is back today! Having been nixed by Covid-19 last season, the 2021 NCAA men’s basketball tournament will be unlike any other March Madness. The First Four starts this Thursday, swiftly followed by the First Round proper – the official start of March Madness – on Friday 19th March. Here’s how how to watch a free March Madness live stream from anywhere in the world today.

March Madness live stream

Date: 18th March – 5th April 2021

Start time: 12pm ET / 4pm GMT

Location: Indiana, United States

UK/Europe stream: ESPN Player (7-day free trial)

Watch anywhere: ExpressVPN

US streams: Sling TV / Paramount+

Australia stream: Kayo Sports

Still not filled out your bracket challenge? The teams have been selected and the first round matchups are set, so you’d better hurry if you plan on predicting the winner of all 63 games (here’s a printable 2021 NCAA bracket pdf). 

Complex seeding aside, Gonzaga is the team to beat this year. The Zags are 26-0 this regular season and  have one of the greatest ever teams in men’s college basketball, including top NBA prospects Jalen Suggs and Corey Kispert.

As for reigning champions Virginia, they’re facing a rough first-round matchup against no. 13 seed Ohio, a team that nearly obliterated no.1 seed Illinois last November. Even if the Hoos do make it to the Sweet 16 matchup against Gonzaga, they’ll surely have to relinquish their title.

Baylor, Kansas and Rutgers are also looking strong according to bracket-master Andy Katz, but expect plenty of shouts of “Roll Tide!” as Alabama carve their way towards the championship game. We might even see another Loyola-Chicago Cinderella run.

The First and Second Rounds take place Friday through Monday, followed by the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight between 27th – 30th March. The Final Four (semi finalists) go head-to-head on 3rd April. Then it’s the Big Dance – the 2021 NCAA national championship game – on 5th April, live on CBS.

Games will be played on two courts inside Lucas Oil Stadium, as well as – deep breath – Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington and Mackey Arena in West Lafayette.

Ok, time for some high-tempo college basketball! Make sure you know how to catch a free March Madness live stream wherever you are in the world.

How to watch March Madness for free

March Madness live stream: how to watch 2021 NCAA basketball online for free

(Image credit: NCAA / Andy Katz)

Good news: ESPN Player has the rights to broadcast every March Madness game in the UK, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. There’s even a 7-day free trial, so you can watch a March Madness live stream for free!

Of course, ESPN Player is only available within the counties listed above. Stuck abroad this week? You’ll need to use a VPN to access ESPN Player without being blocked. We recommend ExpressVPN as it comes with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee. Good to know, right?  

After the free 7-day trial period, subscription to ESPN Player costs just £9.99/€11.99 a month or £69.99/€79.99 a year – proof that you needn’t be a baller to watch college basketball.

March Madness live stream from abroad using a VPN

Even if you have subscribed to the relevant March Madness rights holders, you won’t be able to use them when outside your own country. The service will know your location based on your IP address, and will automatically block your access.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) helps you get around this obstacle. A VPN creates a private connection between your device and the internet, such that the servers and services you’re accessing aren’t aware of what you’re doing. All the information passing back and forth is entirely encrypted.

There are many VPN providers out there, with some more reliable and safe than others. As a rule, we’d suggest a paid-for service such as ExpressVPN which offers a 100 per cent risk-free money back guarantee. If you’re not happy with the service any time within the first 30-days, then you can cancel with no penalties at all.

Try ExpressVPN risk-free for 30 days
ExpressVPN hits it for six with a 30-day money back guarantee with its VPN service. You can use it to watch on your mobile, tablet, laptop, TV, games console and more. There’s 24/7 customer support and three months free when you sign-up. Try it – it’s easier than you think.

March Madness live stream in the USA

March Madness live stream: how to watch 2021 NCAA basketball online for free

(Image credit: NCAA)

CBS, TNT, TBS and TruTV share the rights to the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. Cable subscribers can stream the games by logging into the NCAA website using their cable credentials.

Not a cable subscriber? Cord-cutters can catch most March Madness games by subscribing to Sling TV. The popular streaming service’s Sling Orange package provides access to TBS, TNT and TruTV for $35 a month.

As for CBS games, you can stream them on Paramount+ using this 30-day free trial. Following that, it’s $5.99 or $9.99 a month, depending on whether you opt for the Basic or Premium plan.

Stuck outside the USA? You can access Sling TV and Paramount Plus from anywhere using a VPN. We recommend ExpressVPN because it comes with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

March Madness live stream in the UK

March Madness live stream: how to watch 2021 NCAA basketball online for free

(Image credit: ESPN Player)

ESPN Player has the rights to broadcast NCAA college ball in the UK and Europe. There’s a 7-day free trial, too. After the trial ends, subscription costs just £9.99/€11.99 a month or £69.99/€79.99 a year.

ESPN Player gets you every March Madness game, plus over 10,000 live sports events and award-winning films such as O.J. Made In America. The ESPN Player app is available for iOS and Android devices, with support for Chromecast and AirPlay.

Stuck outside the UK this week? You can access ESPN Player from anywhere using a VPN. We recommend ExpressVPN because it comes with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

The other option is to subscribe to BT Sport. The broadcaster will once again be showing March Madness games on TV and through its app.

March Madness live stream in Australia

March Madness live stream: how to watch 2021 NCAA basketball online for free

(Image credit: Kayo)

Hoops fans in Oz can catch every NCAA college basketball game on Foxtel. Another – most likely cheaper – option is to stream Foxtel via Kayo, Australia’s top sports streaming service.

Kayo is offering new subscribers a 14-day free trial. After that, you’ll be bumped onto a rolling one month contract. Basic is $25 while Premium is $35. 

It’s only available within Australia but you can access your Kayo account from anywhere using a VPN. We recommend ExpressVPN because it comes with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

March Madness live stream in Canada

College basketball fans in Canada can watch every tip-off of March Madness on TSN and TSN Direct. TSN’s streaming service costs $7.99 for 24 hours access, $19.99 for the month or $99.95 for six months (prices quoted are before tax). 

Of course, it’s only available within Canada but you can access your TSN Direct account from anywhere using a VPN. We recommend ExpressVPN because it comes with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

March Madness First Round fixtures

March Madness live stream: how to watch 2021 NCAA basketball online for free

(Image credit: NCAA)

All times Pacific Daylight time (Los Angeles)

Thursday 18th March 2021
Mount Saint Mary’s vs. Texas Southern (2:10 p.m., truTV)
Wichita State vs. Drake (3:27 p.m., TBS)
Norfolk State vs. Appalachian State (5:40 p.m., truTV)
Michigan State vs. UCLA (6:57 p.m., TBS)

Friday 19th March 2021

Mount Saint Mary’s vs. Texas Southern (2:10 p.m., truTV)
Wichita State vs. Drake (3:27 p.m., TBS)
Norfolk State vs. Appalachian State (5:40 p.m., truTV)
Michigan State vs. UCLA (6:57 p.m., TBS)
Florida vs. Virginia Tech (9:15 a.m., CBS)
Arkansas vs. Colgate (9:45 a.m., truTV)
Illinois vs. Drexel (10:15 a.m., TBS)
Texas Tech vs. Utah State (10:45 a.m., TNT)
Ohio State vs. Oral Roberts (noon, CBS)
Baylor vs. Hartford (12:30 p.m., truTV)
Loyola Chicago vs. Georgia Tech (1 p.m., TBS)
Tennessee vs. Oregon State (1:30 p.m., TNT)
Oklahoma State vs. Liberty (3:25 p.m., TBS)
North Carolina vs. Wisconsin (4:10 p.m., CBS)
Houston vs. Cleveland State (4:15 p.m., truTV)
Purdue vs. North Texas (4:25 p.m., TNT)
Clemson vs. Rutgers (6:20 p.m., TBS)
San Diego State vs. Syracuse (6:40 p.m., CBS)
West Virginia vs. Morehead State (6:50 p.m., truTV)
Villanova vs. Winthrop (6:57 p.m., TNT)

Saturday 20th March 2021
Colorado vs. Georgetown (9:15 a.m., CBS)
Florida St. vs. UNC Greensboro (9:45 a.m., truTV)
Kansas vs. Eastern Washington (10:15 a.m., TBS)
LSU vs. St. Bonaventure (10:45 a.m., TNT)
Michigan vs. Mount St. Mary’s/Texas Southern winner (noon, CBS)
Creighton vs. Santa Barbara (12:30 p.m., truTV)
Alabama vs. Iona (1 p.m., TBS)
USC vs. Wichita State/Drake winner (1:30 p.m., TNT)
Iowa vs. Grand Canyon (3:25 p.m., TBS)
Connecticut vs. Maryland (4:10 p.m., CBS)
Virginia vs. Ohio (4:15 p.m., truTV)
Oklahoma vs. Missouri (4:25 p.m., TNT)
Gonzaga vs. Norfolk State/Appalachian State winner (6:20 p.m., TBS)
BYU vs. Michigan State/UCLA winner (6:40 p.m., CBS)
Texas vs. Abilene Christian (6:50 p.m., truTV)
Oregon vs. VCU (6:57 p.m., TNT)