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March 13, 2012

Let the March Madness Begin! How Will You Keep Tabs on Your Bracket This Year?

By Carrie Schmelkin, TMCnet Web Editor

Confession time – I’m bumming hard… real hard. As a devoted Syracuse basketball fan – and someone who has no trouble admitting that she bleeds orange – my heart sank an hour ago when my alma matter announced that our center Fab Melo (you know, that seven-foot-plus giant that all you other teams feared all season), has been taken out of the NCAA Tournament due to an eligibility issue. For real? An eligibility issue that cannot be discussed. Great.

My disappointment is shared by countless other ‘Cusers as Facebook (News - Alert) and Twitter feeds this afternoon were flooded with posts bashing Melo for leaving us, the No. 1 seed school, a school with a school record of 30-1 in the regular season, feeling (ironically) a little blue.

Sour grapes aside though (which is certainly harder to do when I am outnumbered by UConn alumni at TMC (News - Alert)), we have a tourney to watch, and I’ll bet you’re wondering how you are going to follow those day games that so conveniently occur smack dab in the middle of your work day. And you are not alone in this thinking.

"When the games start, the viewing starts, and when the viewing starts, the work needing to be done stops," said Jack Cullen, president of a firm that surveyed 500 IT professionals on the tournament's impact on work and computers, in a recent article.

In fact, according to an online survey by MSN, 86 percent of respondents said will find a way to follow the tournament between or during work assignments, no matter if it makes their boss a bit perturbed. Another study suggests that 2.5 million people will check games and scores online each day of the tournament. And, here’s a real fun one: in another survey, four of 10 IT specialists said that the online traffic will affect their computer system, shutting down the networks of more than a third of the affected companies.

So it’s pretty clear you want to watch, even if you are at work. So how do you go about doing it?

For starters, yesterday, NCAA unveiled a brand-new Android (News - Alert) app and an updated iOS app so that you can watch the games even when you are bogged down with work at your desk, in the supermarket trying to pick up snacks for your kids, or stuck on the train for your commute home. Last year, on-the-go fans could only watch on their iPhones, iPads and iPod touches, but now Android phone users will be able to get in on one of the most watched sporting events of the year. 

Take note that streaming will only work on Android phones running Android 2.2 (Froyo) and up for now and that tablets aren’t included so only iPad owners can watch the game via tablet. For those college grads who are still in the “I’m broke” mentality, for no cost you can listen to live game radio of all 67 games, fill out your NCAA Bracket Challenge bracket, track your bracket progress and post on Facebook and Twitter (News - Alert). But for those of you that truly want to bleed orange (or insert your team color), even if it means forking over a few dollars, then cough up $3.99 to get unlimited live streaming access.

Another solution is to download Comcast or AT&T (News - Alert) apps which are designed to increase the March Madness viewing experience. Specifically, Comcast is offering live streaming of all the games online from a central location; Xfinity TV’s March to Glory tool allows customers to stream games live regardless of the network. It will also include commentary, updated brackets and game recaps. Meanwhile, AT&T offers several apps such as Pocketbracket, an app that costs 99 cents and allows the user to create an unlimited number of brackets so that they can keep up with more than one bracket pool.

So, Happy March Madness everyone! And make no mistake, UConn: I still have full confidence in my orange men to make you bleed blue on the court even without Fab Melo.

Edited by Tammy Wolf
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