The NCAA Tournament is the pinnacle of sports viewership, where deciding which games to watch can mean snoozing your way through a half-dozen one-sided blowouts or seeing classic after classic with no time to catch your breath (or a bathroom break). We’ve broken down how to optimize your home viewing experience (you DID save all your sick days for the tourney, right?), so settle into your couch groove and prepare for the madness.

Pick the game you have to watch (and keep its replacement hot on the bench)

Every game has commercials, and those commercials are when it’s time to see what’s going on with games of lesser import. Put the remote down and keep the game you want to watch on at all times -- until it’s on a commercial break. That’s when your auxiliary game leaps to the foreground to give Game A a breather.

Games will be split across CBS, TBS, TNT, and TruTV, so plot accordingly. Before the tourney's first tip-off, save its four TV channels as favorites in your remote control. (No one wants to miss a buzzer-beater because they forgot which channel number TruTV is on.)

Anything outside of the top three is what your secondary viewing device of choice is for. Draw up a decision tree model for all the potential game-watching scenarios and then show your boss you know how to make a decision tree model. You’re learning valuable skills!

Timing is everything

If you’re going to invite other dedicated fans into the holy sanctum of your living room to watch a full slate of games, they should have the decency to show up on time. Have an open door policy in the lead-up to the first game, but once the ref makes his way to the center circle for tip-off, your door is locked to newcomers until the first media timeout. In the immortal words of Walter Sobchak, “This is not ‘Nam, there are rules.”

Immobilize yourself

Your phone is for checking scores, not watching the game. Unless you’re rocking an 8” phablet you shouldn’t be wasting valuable visual field space on watching stick figures running back and forth while you eat away at your streaming bandwidth. Watching on your phone is for emergencies or first dates only. You don’t want to miss anything great because you’re staring at the small screen. Try this instead. Set up an If This Then That trigger via ESPN or other news sources so that you’ll only be disturbed when something magical yet unlikely happens, like Duke losing. (That’s always a magical moment.)

Keep all weapons out of reach

Tempers tend to flare at the smallest of slights this time of year, so if you’ve invited some buddies over who are on opposite sides of a long-standing rivalry, have a diplomatic game plan ready to go. Make sure you hide the remotes and any other potential projectiles in case one of the rivalry games goes down to the wire. (Pistachios do some serious damage to eye tissue.) Do have numerous throw pillows handy, as this will ventilate frustrations in a harmless manner. Everyone loves a pillow fight!


You can’t concentrate when you’re hungry. Or doing other things. Therefore skip the cooking and cure your hunger by grabbing some Buffalo Wild Wings before the game. You’ll thank yourself when you’re fully immersed in the action at home -- and your friends and family will thank you, too.

Jeremy Nguyen/Thrillist

Create a designated traffic flow

Spacing is everything, so make sure you have a clear lane from the couch to the kitchen and bathroom, especially if you’re inviting folks over. That also means snack and beverage placement will be crucial come tip-off so that no careless guests decide to re-up on chips in the middle of a tight game. If that means you have to take a sick day to rearrange your entire living room so be it. Your boss will almost definitely be cool with it.

Shut up

Jim Nantz and only Jim Nantz is the one true voice of March Madness, not your buddy Phil who thinks he can break down every nuance behind Bo Ryan’s defensive scheme. I’m not saying you should make the viewing area a quiet zone, but staring daggers at the armchair analyst criticizing every single substitution will go a long way towards making the games more enjoyable for everyone. Coordinate this one with your crew so the effect is stifling.

Be present

Remember to breathe after tip-off. Once the game starts, that’s where you’re focusing your attention. You’re not thinking about whether or not the IPA you bought is too hoppy or if everyone is down with your halftime playlist, you’re just embracing the moment and bracing yourself for potential One Shining Moment inclusions. Everything is under control.

Be Nice, K?  

If you have to invite a Duke fan over, make sure they don’t trip anyone.

9 out of 10 doctors agree: take this survey, and you'll make Thrillist better.



Learn More