“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.” That’s sort of like the NCAA Tournament. We will be celebrating the return of both in the next few weeks. Why not merge them? Here is our casting of Game of Thrones with college basketball coaches.
Eddard Stark [Tom Izzo] The iconic MSU coach is grizzly, obsessed with honor and embodies the North with every fiber of his being.
Robb Stark [Shaka Smart] He scored a big victory early, bringing VCU to the Final Four. Where does he go from here?
Joffrey Baratheon [Jim Boeheim] His personality flaws are exacerbated by a life spent in a sheltered environment. He has a singular capacity to be a grating twerp.
Khal Drogo [Brad Stevens] He did not qualify for the tournament. Does it matter? Bringing Butler to the title game twice is character defining, like shrugging off a scythe to the upper torso. He has no further role to play this season, but no one can take his badassery from him.
Petyr Baelish [Rick Pitino] Pitino is charming, but in an unnerving, worrisome way. He completely nails the creepy sexual undertone.
Renley Baratheon [Roy Williams] Pretty colors! Formidable and impressive on paper, but it’s hard for the UNC coach to shake the impression that his team has a soft underbelly.
Daenerys Targaryen [John Calipari] He’s armed only with a legendary basketball name and the ability to summon top-shelf talent. Honestly, who hasn’t pictured John Calipari emerging stark naked and unscathed from the ashes of a funeral pyre?
Walder Frey [Jim Calhoun] The Connecticut coach is self-serving, old as dirt and shamelessly pierces through life’s superficialities. Had he a crucial bridgehead to guard, he would undoubtedly be a dick about it.
Stannis Baratheon [Mike Krzyzewski] His principles are sound. His claim is just. His team is profoundly unlikeable.
Jorah Mormont [Frank Haith] A tragic figure. Haith will spend the rest of his career trying to live down an unsavory act from another life.
Robert Baratheon [Rick Barnes] He has a job with perks. He’s popular with recruits. He’s not necessarily the best coach. Struggled between him and using the image of Majerus trying to cram himself into a basketball uniform.
Tyrion Lannister [Scott Drew] He was handed a raw deal when he took the Baylor job, but, through his own ingenuity and recruiting behind the scenes, has been building a force.
Tywin Lannister [Bobby Knight] Yeah, he’s not coaching anymore, but his stories are legendary and no coach better exemplifies power through legitimate fear and cruelty.
Jamie Lannister [Pat Knight] Influential father. Few think he should be qualified to hold his position, and he knows it. Will throw kids off a tower when his reputation is threatened.