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What Game of Thrones tells us about Virginia in the Final Four

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NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-South Regional-Purdue vs Virginia Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday, the NCAA published a promo video for the Final Four—thanks to “corporate champion” AT&T, which is now the parent company of HBO through its acquisition of TimeWarner—that casts the four teams as houses in Game of Thrones.

In classic Streaking the Lawn style, we are going to break this bad boy down and extend the analogy way too far. Buckle up.

Oh and uh ... ***SPOILER ALERTS***.


Cool sigil, but turns out not really a “great house” here.

Pointy domed building in King’s Landing, just down the way from the Red Keep? Why yes that is the Great Sept of Baelor.

OK so to kick things off, based on who is the leader in the Sept most recently, this makes Bruce Pearl the High Sparrow.


Pictured above: the High Sparrow’s Fleabottom recruiting barbecue; no word yet on a show-cause.

(Part of me hoped that Auburn would be the Dragon Pit: where something that was once red-hot and lethal goes to wither and grow weak.)

The only thing that’s surprising here is that a group that worships trees so much would dedicate themselves to the Faith of the Seven instead of following the Old Gods.


In their rightful place, towering above the peons below, UVA is House Lannister.

(We’ll put aside the troubling sibling ramifications for a bit.)

  • Mamadi Diakite’s emergence as a golden-haired king of the court suddenly makes sense.
  • Jack Salt is Gregor Clegane — the mountainous protector of the family, he’s been a bit quiet recently, but will definitely crush your skull if you aren’t careful.
  • Kihei is Tyrion — you hated him early on but damn if he hasn’t become one of your favorites. (And you thought this was going to be a crack about his height; shame on you.)

ADVANTAGE: I mean...



Texas Tech

Welcome to Dragonstone, Red Raiders of House Targaryen.

The odds were stacked against them at the beginning but they have outlasted many of the other great houses. They play defense like a Dothraki horde and overthrew the Great Masters of Austin and Lawrence.

And just like Texas Tech, the Targaryens were once led by a guy with some world-famous anger issues. Am I saying Bob Knight is the Mad King? I’m not saying he isn’t.

Dragons up.

Michigan State

This one makes almost too much sense: Michigan State is House Stark.

Kings of the North as 2019 Big Ten Tournament champions, the Spartans are undeniably the biggest group of brutes left standing. Temperamental leadership has led to some internal squabbling and caused outsiders to question their tactics, but that’s to be expected with such an irascible people.

Also worth noting that the patriarch is prone to losing his head.

ADVANTAGE: Jarrett Culver is a terrifying fire-breathing beast that will cause State no shortage of problems; if they had three of him, I’d be worried. But the game is being played North of the Wall, a battlefield where the Sparty Starks will be more comfortable.


The Finals

Virginia against Michigan State. It’s a March matchup that has brought UVA fans too much heartbreak in years past. Skirmishes in 2014 and 2015 were little more than early battles in the wars to come. And the northern armies typically enjoy early success.

But in the end, Lannisters always pay their debts.