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Final Four: UConn leaves 6 hours late for Arizona after plane malfunction

In Sports
April 04, 2024
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - MARCH 30: Cam Spencer #12 and head coach Dan Hurley of the Connecticut Huskies react against the Illinois Fighting Illini during the second half in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at TD Garden on March 30, 2024 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

UConn will be low on rest Thursday. Fortunately, the Final Four is on Saturday. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

UConn is the overwhelming favorite to win the men’s Final Four this weekend, but it ran into a formidable foe on Wednesday: air travel.

The Huskies men’s team faced a travel delay of six hours due to mechanical issues with their scheduled charter plane to Phoenix, Arizona. They were initially supposed to leave Storrs, Connecticut at 6 p.m. ET, but ended up leaving at midnight.

The defending champions are reportedly scheduled to land around 1:45 a.m. local time.

All three of the other Final Four teams were in Phoenix when UConn was supposed to take off. Per CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander, Alabama and Purdue arrived on Tuesday, while NC State got in on Wednesday afternoon. While those teams aren’t scheduled to play until Saturday, Final Four teams have a considerable practice and appearance schedule in the run-up to the sport’s marquee event.

UConn took it all with about as much humor as it could offer.

The NCAA, which handles travel for the Final Four, said it was “very disappointed” with the situation in a statement:

“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.”

There might still be more travel to figure out, UConn athletic director Dave Benedict suggested to The Field of 68 that the program might have to leave some members of its travel party so the smaller replacement plane doesn’t have to stop to refuel.

Hopefully, travel for the UConn women’s team, also in the Final Four, will be a bit smoother.

It’s a rough start for the NCAA tournament’s No. 1 overall seed, which made the Final Four with a staggering blowout of Illinois in the Elite Eight. UConn has now won a record 10 straight March Madness games by double digits, a run going back to their title-winning run last season.

They’ll face their first test against Alabama at 8:49 p.m. ET on Saturday.

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