Fifth-ranked N.C. State’s trip west to play UC Santa Barbara on opening day of the college season was scrapped Wednesday by severe snow in North Carolina. A member of the N.C. State staff said all flights out of Raleigh-Durham were canceled Wednesday and Thursday, and nothing is available Friday, putting the UCSB series in jeopardy.
The snow meant the delay of the first start of the season for presumptive No. 1 overall draft pick Carlos Rodon—and foiled the plans of numerous scouting heavyweights who hoped to watch his debut in California. The Wolfpack might attempt to fly in for a Saturday through Monday series, but both teams, as of Wednesday evening, were working on trying to schedule games locally against other opponents. The nearby USA Baseball complex in Cary is scheduled to host eight cold-weather teams in a tournament; if most of those teams are able to reach the area but USA Baseball has any trouble clearing any of its fields, one or two of those teams could wind up playing at N.C. State.
UCSB, meanwhile, could wind up playing a series against Pepperdine if the Waves wind up having to cancel their series against St. John’s. As of Wednesday night, the Red Storm and Waves were both still hoping to play Friday, but they said nothing will be known for sure until Thursday afternoon.
In another high-profile matchup, Kentucky was set to battle No. 1 Virginia in Wilmington, N.C., but the snow and resulting road conditions made travel in the South treacherous. Kentucky’s bus was scheduled to leave at 2 p.m. Wednesday but departed at 6 a.m. instead. Wednesday afternoon, one of UK’s coaches texted national baseball writer Aaron Fitt, “We have been sitting idle on the I-26 for about an hour behind a jack-knifed 18-wheeler.” The top-ranked Cavaliers moved up their departure time to Wednesday afternoon to beat the foot of snow they were expecting.
Weather issues complicated travel for several schools. Teams from the North typically travel South, but a surprisingly heavy February snowstorm forced several teams, including South Carolina, Wofford, South Carolina-Upstate and Tennessee, to push openers back to Saturday. Other series forced to start a day late include Cincinnati-Elon; Binghamton-Duke; Penn State-Gardner-Webb; Middle Tennessee-Kennesaw State; La Salle-Campbell, and the Wake Forest tournament, which included Wake, Towson, Marshall and Georgetown.
Davidson’s series against Buffalo was postponed and the teams hadn’t, as of Wednesday night, determined makeup dates.
Michigan State was one of the eight teams scheduled to play in the Wright State Invitational in Cary, N.C., but the Spartans’ flight to North Carolina was canceled Wednesday. Spartans coach Jake Boss said the team was in wait-and-see mode about the trip, per a Twitter report.
The Terps are scheduled to open in Gainesville Friday, but had to rework their travel schedule to get there. Maryland was supposed to fly out Thursday, but anticipating the snow, instead on Tuesday took two bus trips. After a bus change around 4 a.m., the Terps arrived around 8 a.m. Wednesday.
Missouri was slated to open play at the UNF Best Bet Classic in Jacksonville, Fla., vs. Richmond, but the team flight was canceled. The school was seeking other avenues of travel as of Wednesday night.
Hofstra is one of the teams that appears to have found a way to get south. The Pride booked a 6 a.m. Friday flight from Newark to Houston, and will then fly from Houston to Birmingham, where they will take a 2-plus-hour bus ride to Starkville to take on Mississippi State. Their season opener is still schedule for that night—but it will also be their first time outside as a team, since they will not be able to practice Thursday night at Mississippi State as previously scheduled.
Expect plenty more travel misadventures and opening weekend cancellations to be revealed Thursday.