The NCAA Basketball Tournament is just days away. And now that the teams are ranked and ready to play, we have you covered. Not only can you join our Webware Bracket Challenge, but we've compiled a list of online services that will help you get the most out of the tournament. Whether it's creating brackets, researching players, or just watching the games online, it's all right here.
Stream, stream, stream
CBS (which owns CNET News and the Webware blog) is the television host of all the NCAA men's basketball games this year, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that the company is poised to unveil streaming options for every game in the tournament.
By surfing to CBS' March Madness On Demand page, starting Thursday at 12 p.m. EDT, users will be able to watch every single game on their computers for free.
Bracket it up!
CBS Sports You can join our Webware Bracket on the CBS Sports site. Along with choosing your winners, you can also engage in forum discussions or send e-mails to participants in your group. And if you want to go it alone and try to win cash and prizes by picking the best bracket, you can do that too. Disclosure: We'll say it again. CBS owns both CBS Sports and CNET News.
ESPN ESPN also offers an outstanding bracket service. Much like CBS Sports, ESPN's brackets are open to the public, and users can create their own groups. Picking teams is simple. The service is free, but if you want scouting reports or help with your picks, some ESPN content requires a subscription.
NCAA If you're the type who wants to use the "official" bracket for the NCAA Tournament, you'll need to use the NCAA's bracket service. It's easy to sign up, but I wasn't too pleased with how the bracket picking was implemented, and it was difficult to work my way through the process. But it is one of the best-looking offerings in this roundup.
Yahoo Pick 'Em Yahoo Pick 'Em is, one of the best tournament bracket services. It allows you to quickly choose winners by clicking on a name in the bracket, and regardless of the match-up you create, it provides you with a full look at the teams, including their record, points scored, points allowed, and the "Yahoo Outlook."
AllBallers If you want to engage in some basic research or find out which teams others are picking for the tournament, AllBallers might be a good place to start. It's a community designed specifically for basketball fanatics and its forums are hopping with discussions on basketball in general and the NCAA Tournament in particular. It's a great resource to find out what others think about teams before you make your own decision.
CollegeHoopsNet CollegeHoopsNet is the best source for everything you ever wanted to know about college basketball. From national player rankings to scores and team evaluations, the site gives you the lowdown on what to expect from teams throughout the entire tournament. And although it's designed specifically for die-hard fans, you shouldn't worry: the articles and player details are so useful and worthwhile that novices won't have any trouble understanding them.
InfiniteHoops Maybe this has little to do with March Madness or the NCAA Tournament, but InfiniteHoops is a unique site that lets you find others in your area who might want to start a pickup basketball game. Users input where they will be playing a game and when, and others who want to play can join the game. It's a great way to connect with people around town when the tournament makes you want to play some hoops.
KlickSports If a simple bracket isn't for you and you want to engage in a head-to-head competition, look no further than KlickSports. The site recently unveiled its College Basketball Championship Challenge game, which will allow you to play one game against another user in each region in the first round and then continue to play one regional game in each round until the tournament ends. Even better, you can play both online and on mobile phones and the top players will win prizes when the tournament is over.
Pickspal Pickspal might look like any other sports news site, but it's actually a great resource for those who want to see some of the best college basketball news stories on the Web. Pickspal searches across the Web for basketball news stories about teams, players, or game results, and makes them available on the site. Although all the news and information is available elsewhere, Pickspal is one of my favorite places to find news, simply because it does all the legwork for me and puts all the top stories in one place for my consumption. It's also a handy tool when trying to figure out which team to pick.
Has all this bracket talk gotten you in the mood to pick your winners? If so, join our Webware Bracket Challenge! Simply sign up for a CBS Sports ID, follow this link, and input the password, webware, into the appropriate field. You'll then be able to pick your winners for this year's bracket.