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Indiana faced ordeal getting to West Coast from Dayton

March Madness has taken on a whole new meaning for IU.

After playing four games in six days, Indiana’s hectic schedule didn’t let up after their 66-58 First Four NCAA Tournament win over Wyoming on Tuesday evening in Dayton.

The Hoosiers were set to fly out of Dayton on a red eye, just after 1 a.m. to their next destination three time zones away in Portland, Ore.

The original plan already seemed like a bit much for student athletes, but things hit a snag.  And the red eyed Hoosiers were zombies.

According to Flight Aware data and other reports, IU’s flight to Portland hit a snag caused by issues with their plane arranged by the NCAA.  News 8 Sports reported the delayed stemmed from the team needing to switch planes due to the size of its travel party, and even when on the second plane, some baggage had to be left behind and shipped separately to Portland.  They didn’t get off the ground in Dayton until after 4 a.m. Eastern.

Video of the team on the plane indicates they were in good spirits.

The Hoosiers ended up on a Boeing 737 and landed in Portland at 8:50 a.m. Eastern on Wednesday morning — a full nine hours after their game ended in Dayton.

Upon arriving in Portland the team will no doubt try to get in some rest, but they have a busy Wednesday in front of them that includes practice, game preparation and media obligations.

While their travel arrangements were disrupted, the IU staff was well aware of their brutal turnaround from Dayton to Portland and planned ahead.

But while they had a planning fail when it came to the airplane, IU did think ahead for Thursday’s game.  They play St. Mary’s less than 36 hours after landing in Portland, and arrive likely on little to no sleep.  But the staff worked on preparation for the No. 5 seed Gaels prior to the Wyoming game.

“We already got Saint Mary’s planned ahead in case we did win,” head coach Mike Woodson said.  “So we already got them ready to go.”

Woodson wasn’t quite sure on the details of how Wednesday would work when asked immediately following the Wyoming game, but he knew it was already going to be a full day before their three-hour delay arriving on the West Coast.

“We’ll spend the whole day getting ready, try to find a gym where we can do some work and get ready to play on Thursday,” Woodson said.

The whole ordeal calls into question the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee’s decision to send teams playing in the First Four in Dayton to the Pacific time zone for games to be played less than 48 hours later.  Indiana isn’t the only program facing that scenario.  The winner of Wednesday’s game between Rutgers and Notre Dame will travel to San Diego to play on Friday.

If IU was one of the last teams worthy of being in the Tournament in the Committee’s eyes, they certainly deserved a challenging path that included two games in three days.

But the situation the Committee put Indiana seems avoidable, and far less than optimal for student athletes.  It doesn’t seem outside the range of what’s possible to keep the teams who play in the First Four in regions close to Dayton.

But that won’t change Indiana’s current situation, which above all now calls for a good night of sleep.

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