UConn facing March Madness travel debacle to get to Final Four

College Basketball

The UConn Huskies are dealing with severe travel issues that could prevent them from arriving in Arizona until the wee hours of Thursday morning. 

UConn’s men’s basketball team currently does not have a plane to fly to Phoenix on because of logistical and mechanical issues, CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander first reported on Wednesday and was later confirmed by the NCAA.

The team’s original flight was supposed to fly in from Kansas City, but the delays have led to growing issues, with one of them being that the flight crew on the flight from KC would be over the FAA-allowed hours and couldn’t immediately turn around to fly out to Phoenix. 

Donovan Clingan and the Huskies are facing some big travel delays to get to the Final Four. AP

While there had been concern their earliest flight wouldn’t take off until after midnight, ESPN’s Peter Thamel and the NCAA now say that their flight is expected to leave around 11:30 p.m. ET and arrive in Phoenix at roughly 2 a.m. ET.

UConn head coach Dan Hurley originally told Norlander that the earliest the Huskies would be able to arrive in Arizona wouldn’t be until 5 a.m. Eastern/ 2 a.m. local time, only a few short hours before Thursday’s media availability.

In order to be able to make that happen, the team would have needed to take a smaller plane from Cincinnati which required a fuel stop along the way in order to reach its final destination and other charter flight companies didn’t originally have any availability over the next five hours, Norlander reported. 

The ordeal has put UConn in a bizarre and non-ideal situation heading into the Final Four. 

Alabama and Purdue had flown in on Tuesday and NC State arrived in Phoenix earlier in the day on Wednesday.

UConn head coach Dan Hurley calls toward his players during the their Elite 8 win over Illinois. AP

Initially, it seemed that the Huskies’ two options appeard to be to take the flight that leaves after midnight or their original plane out of Kansas City which wouldn’t be able to fly until 10 a.m. on Thursday due to FAA regulations with the crew. 

That was until the 11:30 p.m. flight became available.

“In conjunction with the school and charter airlines, the NCAA worked to develop several options for travel alternatives to Phoenix,” the NCAA said in a statement. “We are very disappointed that UConn will arrive later than anticipated and it’s unfortunate the team’s travel experience has been impacted.”

UConn’s Final Four matchup against Alabama doesn’t take place until Saturday night at 8:49 p.m. ET, which still gives the Huskies plenty of time to get to Phoenix.

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