Your alma mater is due to take the court in the NCAA men's basketball tournament in a few minutes and you're slated for a full day of work. What do you do?

Relax, there are a few options that should allow you to watch your team like a true fan without sending you to the unemployment line.

All it takes is a little foresight and creative planning to allow yourself to be fully engulfed in everything March Madness without setting back your career aspirations.

So, before falling back into your cubicle to pore over those TPS reports, financial spreadsheets and that office memo about the appropriateness of showing up to work shirtless with your school logo painted on your chest, take a quick mental health break and consider one of these five alternatives.

Doctor with scalpel, surgery

No. 5: Schedule a medical procedure

If you've been putting off some minor elective surgery what better time to schedule it than right before March Madness?

No, really, think about it. If you have an outpatient procedure that requires recuperating at home, you'll need something to help fill that downtime. Perhaps there's something worth watching on TV?

It may be too late to schedule something this year, but if you've been meaning to get that wisdom tooth removed, some plastic surgery taken care of or have been thinking about LASIK, consider penciling it in for next spring.

Some urologists have even latched onto this idea, offering so-called "Vas Madness" specials on vasectomies just before tournament time. For instance, the 21st Century Urology clinic in the Chicago area has become famous for offering a special including freebies of pizza and a bag of frozen peas to help with the swelling.

Just be sure not to jump around too much celebrating your team's big win.

basketball TV remote television, sports, couch potato

No. 4: Just take the day off

It may sound crazy, but it just may work. If you plan ahead and play your cards right, you might be able to legitimately request the day off by making arrangements with your boss.

If you don't have the PTO to burn or it's too late to request a day off, there is always the option of calling in sick. While we would never condone playing hooky, if your mind is set, be sure to be wise with your excuse.

You could always manufacture an reason (the risky vague personal emergency, the always popular doctor's appointment or just plain calling in sick), but perhaps the best excuse is simply, "I've earned it." Tally up the compensation time you've acquired recently by working late or early and make your case.

Your boss might even surprise you. Chances are he or she knows you'll likely be checking the scores every two minutes on the web or watching a streaming video feed at work anyway.

fans cheering in sports bar

No. 3: Be strategic with your break

If you can't get away from the office for the whole day, there are ways to get out for a little while -- including on your break.

If your team is playing over the lunch hour, consider taking your break at a sports bar that will surely be showing the tournament on television.

Otherwise, if your team is scheduled for a later game, consider working it out to either skip your earlier break to leave work a little early, or wait to take your break until your team hits the court.

As a last option, try to get in early on game days and be sure to schedule any meetings in the morning so you can get some actual work done before the first games tip off.

Just remember, if you take our next suggestion, keep your in-office viewing on the down low.

man cheering while watching laptop computer

No. 2: Watch the games at work

If you can't get away from the office and you spend your work day staring at a computer screen, you may be able to watch the games from your desk.

Although in the past you could watch every single game for free online, that will change in 2012.

While all games airing on CBS will still be available for free on CBSSports.com, the NCAA joined with Turner Sports and CBS Sports to offer March Madness Live, which for $3.99 allows fans to watch all games live online or via an app for Apple and android devices.

March Madness Live also offers video highlights, game alerts and live radio broadcasts for every game. Cable and satellite subscribers can "authenticate" themselves to get online access without paying extra.