UNC Men's Basketball Opens Play In Home-State Maui Invitational Against UNLV

Oct 8, 2020

UNC forward Nassir Little throws down a dunk during a 2018 home game vs. St. Francis (PA.) at the Smith Center.
Credit Mitchell Northam / WUNC

UNC-Chapel Hill’s men’s basketball team will play in the Maui Invitational this year without having to leave the state of North Carolina.

Due to concerns from the coronavirus, the annual college basketball tournament is moving to the mainland.

It was announced Wednesday that the Tar Heels will begin play in the relocated Maui Invitational by facing UNLV at the Harrah's Cherokee Center in Asheville. The tournament begins Nov. 30.

The Maui Invitational announced its eight-team bracket and three-day schedule Wednesday, nearly three weeks after saying it would move from its traditional setting in Hawaii to Asheville, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

That means a shorter trip for the Tar Heels. Another team that calls North Carolina home, Davidson, will also play in the tournament and faces Texas in the opening matchup. The Wildcats and Tar Heels could meet in the second round.

Indiana and Providence play in Game Two, followed by UNC vs. UNLV and finally Stanford against Alabama to close the first day. The championship will be played Dec. 2.

The tournament is one of the premier early season tournaments on the college basketball schedule and typically runs during the three days leading up to Thanksgiving. But it will begin the following week because the NCAA has delayed the start of this year's season to Nov. 25.

All teams, staff, officials and ESPN personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

This will be the eighth time that the Tar Heels have played in the Maui Invitational. UNC has won the event four times, doing so most recently in 2016-17. Overall, the Tar Heels have a 20-3 record in the tournament.

Roy Williams – who grew up in Asheville and graduated from T. C. Roberson High School – returns for his 18th season as the head coach of the Tar Heels. They’ll be looking to bounce back from an abysmal season last year, in which they finished 14-19.