UConn arrives in Arizona for Final Four after seven-hour flight delay

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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 the team was supposed to take around 6 p.m. EDT had mechanical issues getting to the East Coast, UConn didn’t board its flight until 11:30 p.m., according to FOX Sports college basketball analyst John Fanta. 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.

The Huskies posted a video on social media, showing the team finally disembarking in Arizona.

UConn had a hard time finding a replacement flight because of bad weather on the East Coast and regulations involving rest for the flight crew, which would not allow the original crew to leave before 10 a.m. Thursday.

The NCAA, which handles travel for all teams in both the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournaments, shared further details.

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 find several alternatives after the problem emerged with the original plane. The delayed flight was then supposed to take off at 11:30 p.m. EDT, but another mechanical issue, as well as bad weather in Connecticut, delayed the Huskies for another two hours, the NCAA said.

“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.

Following the long flight delay, the NCAA is working with UConn to try and adjust its schedule for Thursday, according to ESPN. The schedule changes would likely push UConn’s practice and media obligations until later in the day.

The Huskies had not been on a plane since 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 to the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, both in New York, and the East Regional in Boston.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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