NCAA March Madness® returns, live & on-demand, to ESPN Player

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NCAA March Madness® returns, live & on-demand, to ESPN Player

 

 

  • Multi-sport streaming service to provide complete live and on-demand coverage of college basketball’s NCAA Tournament
  • The only destination in Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA) and parts of Asia to watch every game from March Madness®
  • New March Madness® Pass will deliver unlimited access to the tournament including behind the scenes insights from the ESPNU channel

 

ESPN Player will bring fans from across EMEA live and on-demand coverage of every game from the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, suitably nicknamed ‘March Madness ®’. Every year, the basketball world is captivated by the 68-team tournament famous for its unpredictability, shocking upsets and unlikely heroes.

Available on desktop, iPad and mobile, ESPN Player’s coverage begins on Tuesday 14th March and runs through five rounds to the National Championship game on the night of Monday 3rd April covering 67 games in three weeks.

Of the 68 available spots, 32 are awarded to the Division I conference champions, who gain automatic entry into the tournament. The remaining 36 spots are decided by a Selection Committee, based on regular season performance and a number of other factors.

The Selection Committee ranks the 68 teams, splits them into four regionalised groups and reveals the final line-up on Selection Sunday, 12th March, which will also be streamed live on ESPN Player. The action begins just days after Selection Sunday with the First Four on 14th and 15th March, where eight teams “play in” for the chance to join the 64 that start the first round on 16th and 17th March.

Viewers can stream all the action to the big screen with Apple TV (Via Airplay) and Chromecast compatibility to catch every single basket. Within the first week the tournament justifies its nickname as 64 teams are narrowed down to the Sweet Sixteen. That is followed by the Elite Eight and Final Four rounds before two teams are left to play in the National Championship Game on Monday 3rd April. The new March Madness® Pass will provide sports fans with unlimited access to the tournament for just £29.99.

A number of European athletes will be hoping to make their mark on the tournament. The 7ft tall Derby native Kingsley Okoroh is set to feature for California as the Golden Bears continue to thrive within a tough conference. Okoroh may tip off against fellow Brit Prince Ibeh, the powerhouse forward for Texas and the flying Finn Lauri Markkanen who plies his trade for the Arizona Wildcats. The three athletes will be hungry for success after falling short in last year’s tournament with early exits in the first round.

Before the tournament begins, basketball fans around the world will predict how it will unfold by filling out their brackets. The notoriously difficult process sees millions of fans log their guesses online into ESPN’s Tournament Challenge bracket game. Last year, fans submitted 13.0 million brackets to set a new all-time record surpassing 2015’s record of 11.6 million. At the peak period of entries, fans registered 18,503 brackets per minute (308 brackets per second). This year, fans will also be able to follow the tournament in detail through ESPN’s extensive editorial digital coverage from its US-based team of leading college basketball writers, reporters and experts.

This year’s NCAA Tournament follows on from an unpredictable regular season which has seen ‘sure things’ fall short and underdogs steal the headlines. Kentucky and Duke were pre-season favourite, however the Blue Devils and the Wildcats have lost 10 games between them and sit outside the top 10 in the national rankings. Nobody saw the incredible rise of unbeaten Gonzaga coming. The Bulldogs currently sit top of the rankings after dispatching impressive opposition in Arizona, Saint Mary’s and Iowa State.

Many of the usual suspects are still in the mix and providing strong résumés for the Selection committee. Traditional powerhouses North Carolina, Kansas and Arizona are set to top their conferences and reigning champions Villanova sit comfortably on the Big East throne. Oklahoma, plagued with injuries, are in the midst of a season to forget. The Sooners reached the final four last season, however they find themselves at the wrong end of the standings in the Big 12 and praying for a second chance.

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Oliver Clarke

Ollie first joined ESPN in 2016 from the University of Birmingham. Ollie looks after all things direct-to-consumer in EMEA. This includes, but not limited to, customer acquisition and retention, programming, customer life cycle management and communications.
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