The intersection of technology and popular culture has brought us some really great endeavors through the years. Angry Birds comes to mind. So does Twitter's tweets per second record when Beyonce revealed she was having a baby. Perhaps the best use of technology in pop culture though is the ability to track and respond to real-time information from anywhere in the world. This should come in especially handy over the next few weeks as the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship unfolds in cities across the country.
The NCAA Tourney is an annual rite in the United States. It is one of those events that brings people together as brackets are filled out, wagers made and winners sought. There are more ways than ever to stream all the NCAA games, keep track of your picks and talk smack with your opponents over social media. What are the best ways to follow the action this year? Below we have (number) apps from Facebook, Android and iOS to keep you informed.
For both iOS and Android, this is the official app for March Madness. The app allows you to check the tournament schedule, fill out and track your bracket (up to five entries), stream live games, get customized alerts by team, upsets, close games or overtime. It is a free app but will cost a $3.99 in-app purchase to access the streaming feature. Great to have at the office on the iPad when IT is checking over your shoulder to see if you are using company bandwidth to watch college basketball.
All the big online sports entities have their own bracket apps. CBS (Turner Sports) is the official television network for the tournament so its app gets to stream live games while other company's, like Disney's ESPN, do not. At the same time, mobile is one of ESPN's strengths and its Bracket Bound app is a great way to submit your picks (up to 10 entries) and track scores, highlights, news and Twitter reactions.
When it comes to anything fantasy sports related, the best choices on the Web always come from CBS, ESPN and Yahoo. That goes for NCAA March Madness as well. The Yahoo Tourney Pick'em app allows you to pick your bracket, track games, gives you updates and play-by-play for all the games. This is one of the apps that I will be using for one of my (several) pools.
Thuuz has actually been on our radar for quite some time but have never really had an opportunity to write about it. It is not just and NCAA tournament app but an app for tracking any major U.S. sports. It uses an algorithm to track games and gives an "excitement" rating of 0-100. It will point you to where you can watch these games either on television or on the Web. It also functions as a scores and update app and allows you to share those games with your Facebook friends.
If you do not want to go through the major services like ESPN, CBS or Yahoo, there are a variety of places online where you can set up and manage your own bracket pool. On the Web, one of the more popular places to create tournament pools is PoolHost.com (where another one of my brackets is being hosted this year). From a mobile perspective, PocketBracket is one of the only options available to create and manage public or private brackets.
USA Today Matchup Mania
The Facebook ecosystem is stepping up this year with a variety of apps from major publishers to bring social to the NCAA Tournament. USA Today Matchup Mania is an app that allows you to pick games and earn points towards prizes. It is more of a fantasy style set up than a classic bracket app and allows you to compete against your Facebook friends.
Sporting News Bracket Insanity
The common theme among the Facebook bracket apps is that they are on a points basis and try to push the user to engage more often. The Sporting News app lets you pick winners on a round-by-round basis as opposed to full tournament brackets (which you can do as well). Facebook is different from the mobile versions of bracket apps as it tends to be large publications like Sporting News, USA Today and Sports Illustrated that want to access your social graph and send you information through Facebook to come to each site.
Sports Illustrated Bracket Challenge
The Sports Illustrated Bracket Challenge is a standard bracket pick structure with updates, leaderboards and prizes. upon signing up, Sports Illustrated will attempt to get you to sign up for alerts and newsletters. If you are anything like me you will probably bypass those and go straight to the picks.
Who do you have going to the Final Four this year? How are you going to engage with the tournament online or via mobile? Let us know in the comments.