UConn’s flight to Final Four delayed more than 7 hours

UConn’s flight to Final Four delayed more than 7 hours

Until Wednesday night, UConn’s quest to repeat as national champions had been smooth sailing with four wins by margins of 39, 17, 30 and 25 points.

However, in an inauspicious start to the third and final weekend of the 2024 NCAA Tournament, Dan Hurley’s team saw its travel plans to Arizona turn into a complete nightmare.

UConn was scheduled to leave Bradley International Airport in Hartford at around 6:00 p.m. Eastern, only to have mechanical issues force the team’s departure time back to 11:30 p.m. But at 1:05 a.m. ET., Hurley took to social media to say, “Wheels not up…”

According to Matt Norlander of CBS Sports, UConn sources texted him from the plane that it was “speeding down the runway” at 1:33 a.m.

The NCAA is in charge of all travel plans for teams in both the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournaments. Once CBS Sports broke the story of the Huskies’ travel delays early Wednesday night, the NCAA released a statement:

“Due to mechanical issues with the original aircraft, UConn men’s basketball team is experiencing a delay and is now projected to depart at approximately 11:30 p.m. ET,” the statement said. “In conjunction with the school and charter airlines, the NCAA worked to develop several options for travel alternatives to Phoenix. We are very disappointed that UConn will arrive later than anticipated and it’s unfortunate the team’s travel experience has been impacted.”

CBS Sports reported that UConn’s flight wasn’t scheduled to land in Phoenix until 5:28 a.m. ET., but an ESPN report had the Huskies arriving at Sky Harbor International Airport at 6:30 a.m. ET.

UConn had to reduce its travel party on the smaller replacement plane, with players and coaches leaving on the first flight out while others were re-booked for a later flight.

Purdue and Alabama flew into Arizona on Tuesday night, while NC St. arrived Wednesday afternoon. UConn had been scheduled for media availability, practice and other obligations at noon Pacific in Glendale, but the NCAA was reportedly looking to modify that itinerary due to the travel delays.

UConn is an 11.5-point favorite vs. Alabama in Saturday’s late game on TBS/TNT/TruTV. The Huskies are attempting to become the first repeat national champions since the Florida Gators won back-to-back national titles in 2006 and 2007.