The Essentials: Everything You Need To Enjoy The NCAA Tournament

Let the fandom begin! As everyone is filling out their brackets and prepping for the Madness, it is time to settle down and focus on what you need to make your experience more enriching. The NCAA tournament is one of the few sporting events in the country that allows fans to truly participate in some way or form. Whether your boss is the biggest Duke fan in the world or your uncle is the one guy in the family that supports Kentucky from head to toe, this is the most fun sporting event to watch each year.

If you are going all out and throwing bracket parties or simply kicking back with your friends, here is what you need in order to have the best total March experience.

[RELATED: West Region Preview]

[RELATED: Midwest Region Preview]

[RELATED: South Region Preview]

[RELATED: East Region Preview]

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Never go over the top when it comes to food and sporting events. The best thing to do is to keep it simple and cool. Try your hand at an ultimate finger food platter. Prime example: make or order some killer wings, pigs in a blanket, or order some pizza.

Each year during March, my mother makes crispy baked buffalo wings that have become a tradition in my household. While she did not give me her secret recipe, here is an alternative to make some great wings.

Crispy Baked Buffalo Wings Recipe (via Bon Appetit):

Buffalo Sauce
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce
5 pounds chicken wings, tips removed, drumettes and flats separated
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Keep a Paper Bracket
Everything is easily accessible on the computer or a smartphone now, but nothing still beats the feeling of completing a clean paper bracket. I remember when I was younger when my father would bring home The New York Daily News the Monday right after selection Sunday. It was the best feeling in the world. I would complete it and keep it during every game I watched, checking off or checking which games I won. You can’t go wrong with a paper bracket–keep the tradition alive. The majority of websites such as ESPN, Yahoo! and NBC have paper brackets to fill out.

Find the Right Beer
Beer and sports fans go together. There cannot be a better feeling than drinking a cold brew while watching the games. A cool technique to try when you have your friends over while watching the games is to fill your kitchen sink with a good amount of ice and put your beer in it. It creates the perfect display of beer haven, and makes it easy to run and grab one out of the sink instead of wasting time searching through the fridge. You do not want to risk missing the biggest shot of the tournament do you?

Find the beer that suits you best and drink up.

Have the Right Television and Sound
There is nothing worse than watching a great event like March on a TV that looked like it was built during the Stone Age. This is the most important essential you need to dive right into the Madness. One screen might not be enough with all of the drama surrounding the tournament. Try to get your hand on a LG 55-inch from Best Buy for a good price or even try your luck with one of the best televisions on the market right now in the Samsung 75-inch LED. The cost is a lot but the features and picture quality is amazing. To boost the experience, make sure you have the right surround sound system automating the room to make you feel like you are at the game.

Keep reading for a heads up on the best tournament apps…

School Spirit
If you are fully engaged and support a team religiously, it is only right if you have the right gear to show your school spirit. This is perhaps the one and only time when wearing a jersey or an old t-shirt is totally acceptable nowadays. A lot of brands like Nike and adidas have some great gear for fans to get before the games that are very appealing.

With so many games going on at a time, it is best to take advantage of certain apps that will make things less stressful.

Apps you need to download
NCAA March Madness Live – This app, provided by Turner Sports, is a must-have. The app offers free live streaming for every tournament game. You will also have all access to social media and radio broadcast to keep up with the games if you’re on the move.

ESPN Tournament Challenge – ESPN offers the best ranking and bracket you can have. From analysis, predictions and scores, this app covers everything you need to master your bracket.

Yahoo! Sports and Tourney Pick Em’ – I am pretty sure everyone has heard of the Billionaire Dollar Bracket Challenge that has everyone thinking they are going to win. Quicken Loans and Warren Buffett marketing strategy paid off well as this app is a must-have if you are really committed in believing you have a chance to win the challenge.

Yes, I have already included what food you need, but the snacks are what makes you or breaks you. There is no limit where you can go with this one. Of course, if you are having guests, you want them to be comfortable and satisfied at all times. If you want to, rack up on Doritos, chips and dip–that would be great. If you want to try and up everyone else, making the ultimate stacked Nachos platter will have your friends talking about how much they appreciate you.

Guide to Making the Best Nachos:

Things You Need
Chips – tortilla chips. Tostitos is always the logical choice.
Cheese – Monterey Jack and sharp cheddar–make sure to combine both while they melt for a perfect combination.
Other Essentials Needed – beef, chicken or pork all make great choices. If you are a bean lover, make sure to add that as well.
After Baked – sour cream, jalapenos, salsa or some guacamole for the last punch on the Ultimate Nachos Platter

The Right Chair
Make sure to grab the best seat in the house and make sure to not leave it too often–you are probably going to spend the next two weeks in the same exact spot.

What do you have to have with you when you watch the Madness?

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