After Flight Delay, Defending Champion Uconn Arrives in Arizona for Final Four in Middle of Night

STORRS, Conn. (AP) — Defending national champion UConn finally touched down in Arizona for the Final Four at 3:15 a.m. MST on Thursday after a long delay and a red-eye flight.

After the plane they were supposed to depart on at around 6 p.m. EDT had mechanical issues getting to the East Coast, the Huskies took off in a smaller Allegiant Air plane from Bradley International Airport near Hartford at about 1:30 a.m. EDT for the flight to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

No. 1 seed UConn is scheduled to play fourth-seeded Alabama on Saturday night in the semifinals at State Farm Stadium in Glendale. The championship game is Monday night.

Alabama and Purdue arrived in Arizona on Tuesday night, and North Carolina State came in Wednesday afternoon.

The NCAA said in a statement that it worked with UConn and a charter company to develop several alternatives.

UConn center Donovan Clingan, center, battles for a rebound against San Diego State guard Darrion Trammell, left, and forward Elijah Saunders, right, during the first half of the Sweet 16 college basketball game in the men’s NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 28, 2024, in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

“We are very disappointed that UConn will arrive later than anticipated and it’s unfortunate the team’s travel experience has been impacted,” the NCAA said.

The Huskies had not been on a plane since just after their March 6 game with Marquette, when they had to spend an extra day in Milwaukee because of a canceled flight. They took buses to the Big East Tournament and first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, both in New York, and the East Regional in Boston.

The travel problems were first reported by CBS Sports, which was told of the issue by coach Dan Hurley.

By PAT EATON-ROBB AP Sports Writer


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