The brackets, released Thursday, show the Tar Heels getting the winner of the Butler-Marquette game in the semifinals. The other half of the bracket had Texas playing Chaminade, the Division II host school, and Southern California meeting Illinois.
The championship game is Nov. 21.
North Carolina won the tournament in 1999, 2004 and 2008, and the Tar Heels are trying close in on Duke's record five titles. No other team in the 2012 field has won the tournament although Illinois (2000) and Marquette (2007) both finished second.
The tournament has four schools - Colgate, Coppin State, Elon and Florida Atlantic - which will only play regional games at campus sites.
LAHAINA, Hawaii - North Carolina, a three-time champion of the EA Sports Maui Invitational, will face Mississippi State in the opening round of the 29th edition of the tournament.
UNC Will Open with Miss. State in Maui
The full pairings for the 2012 Maui Invitational were announced on Thursday.