Who is Reek? Well, it's you UTEP. Sorry.

Texas basketball programs as Game of Thrones characters

Texas basketball programs as Game of Thrones characters

With Game of Thrones right around the corner and the close of college basketball season upon us I figured it would be a nice time to see which of our favorite characters matched with the various Texas basketball programs.

OBVIOUSLY THERE ARE SPOILERS BELOW SO IF YOU AREN'T CAUGHT UP COME BACK LATER

Texas Tech - Jon Snow

Easy to root for and when you think of where they came from you would never expect them to be in the spot they are now. Chris Beard's infectious charm almost matches Snow's puzzled looks when he knows nothing and heroic bravery in various situations throughout the show. Tubby Smith leaving was the Night's Watch turning on Jon. Beard is the revived Snow ready for all challenges.



Houston - Daenerys Targaryen

Also easy to root for. Kelvin Sampson is Tyrion Lannister who was once a blue blood since shunned for something that wasn't his fault. Dana Holgorsen is Jorah Mormont because the hair is perfect. Tilman Fertitta's money is the dragons. It equalizes the playing field. Also, have you ever made a Houston fan mad? They yell at you so crazily it resembles the speak of the Dothraki horde. Oh, and they're loyal.



Texas - Jamie Lannister

A once proud and fierce warrior forced to relive old war success is a lot like winning the NIT. There's still expectations that tradition is held for both Texas and Jamie. You're Texas and a Lannister after all! Alas, you're not quite sure they can get it done these days. They're still hung up on their sister/ex too.



Texas A&M - Cersei Lannister

Spend all the money until the problem is fixed. Buzz Williams and Jimbo Fisher might as well be The Gold Company coming to fix the problems in the kingdom. Never thought they could be king but now there's a chance they are the winners in Game of Thrones. Still hung up on their brother/ex too.



Baylor - Bran Stark

They sort of wander in and out of the story and when they are they you're not sure they're all there but hey they're family right? Incidents have kept them from ending up as a more relevant character but they aren't going away anytime soon.



SMU - Sansa Stark

Again, family and please pay attention. Please. Have been led astray by an older man (Larry Brown) but hopefully back on the right path. There's a future here, just not sure it is bright. Also, I've met more than a few SMU girls who acted like early season Sansa.



TCU - Arya Stark

The child with a ton of potential except all those dang obstacles keep getting in the way. The latest being someone wants to take your coach just like the Waif was trying to take Arya's life when she was training with The Faceless Men. There's a few frat boy programs that could end up on the pointy end.



Stephen F. Austin - Tormund Giantsbane

Wild. Definitely a factor in certain situations. Might be a while before they are more than just a warm body in battle but in the past have played key roles. Did we mention East Texas is kinda like North of the Wall?



Texas Southern/Prarie View A&M - Brotherhood Without Banners

They're going to be there and there going to be annoying but you don't see any way they're surviving. Just like these two programs have been in the tournament but you're certain they are over matched. They'll be back though.



Rice - Samwell Tarly

Smart and useless in battle but might sneak up on an enemy and accidentally kill them every now and then. Did I mention really smart?


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The Astros are back in action Friday night against the A's. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

The Astros need to whip up on the Oakland A’s this weekend in California as they did in sweeping four from them last week at Minute Maid Park. That was the start of a homestand which ended up with seven wins in 10 games. That goes down as a successful homestand, especially since it felt like the Astros’ prior winning homestand came while Donald Trump was President (it actually started in late July). Still, 7-3 doesn’t feel like a smashing success with it ending by dropping two of three games to the lowly Los Angeles Angels.

It is not exactly with bated breath that anyone should be waiting on Jose Abreu’s return to the lineup, but it’s coming. It should not be on this road trip. After the three games with the A’s the Astros move up the coast for a big four game set with American League West leading Seattle. The M's start all right-handed pitchers. That is no time to sit Jon Singleton to see if Abreu has managed to pump a few drops of gas into his tank while spending the better part of this month at the Astros’ minor league complex. It’s not as if Singleton has been stellar since Abreu’s departure, but by comparison, he’s been Lou Gehrig-esque. The series with the Mariners isn’t make or break but the Astros are strongly advised to get at least a split. That it should be Framber Valdez starting the opener Monday night doesn’t breed tremendous confidence, coming off his meltdown outing against the Angels. Another start, another opportunity.

The Mariners are at the Nationals this weekend, starting it a mere four and a half games ahead of the Astros. In four of the five other divisions the Astros' 22-28 record would have them at least 10 games off the lead.

One step forward, two steps back

Speaking of washed-up first basemen, Joey Votto should be a future Hall of Famer. The 40-year-old Canadian is trying to make it back to the big leagues via the minor leagues with the Toronto Blue Jays. Votto was an absolutely tremendous player with the Cincinnati Reds. As the Beastie Boys said, “Ch-check it out.” Over Jeff Bagwell’s first ten seasons with the Astros he hit .305 with a .417 on-base percentage and .552 slugging percentage, yielding a phenomenal .970 OPS. Over Votto’s first ten full seasons with the Reds: .313/.429/.540 for an exactly phenomenal .970 OPS. Where am I going with this? Read on!

Votto had phenomenal strike zone and bat control. He turned 30 during the 2013 season. That year Votto had 581 at bats. He popped out to an infielder once the entire season. Alex Bregman turned 30 the third day of this season. Bregman popped out to the shortstop four times in the Angels series. So much for Bregman’s “knob past the ball” epiphany that saw him hit three home runs over two games last week. Going into the weekend Bregman has one hit in his last 23 at bats. His season stats continue to be pitiful: a .209 batting average and .607 OPS. Bregman has only struck out once in the 23 at bats of his latest deep freeze. It’s that so much of his contract is feeble. There is a lot of season left for Bregman to build up to decent numbers, but one-third of the regular season will be complete after the Astros play the Mariners Monday night.

While Bregman’s season to date has basically been one long slump, Jose Altuve is in a funk of his own. Since blasting a homer Monday, Altuve is hitless in 12 at bats. Mini-slumps happen to everybody but Altuve’s woes trace back farther. Over his last 15 games, Altuve is batting .175. He last had more than one hit in a game May 5. He’s also drawn just two walks over those 15 games. It’s tough to ever sit Altuve, but he’s probably playing a little too much. Altuve turned 34 earlier this month. He has started 48 of the Astros 50 games at second base. Mauricio Dubon should be getting a start per week at second (and probably another at third given Bregman’s level of play). Over a full season not playing the field once per week still means 135 starts. Altuve should mix in some more at designated hitter (he has just one DH game so far this season). Wear and tear is a real thing, players don’t grow less susceptible to it as they get to their mid-30s.

King Tuck

On the flip side, Kyle Tucker! So far this season, he’s making himself as much money as Bregman is costing himself. Only Shohei Ohtani (1.069) starts the weekend action with an OPS higher than Tucker’s 1.060. The law of averages dictates that Tucker won’t finish as high as 1.060, but if he does, it would be the greatest full-length season offensive performance in Astros’ history. Jeff Bagwell posted an absurd 1.201 OPS in the strike-shortened 1994 campaign. Yordan Alvarez came in at 1.067 in his 87 games played rookie season of 2019. Lance Berkman’s 2001 was a monster. Enron Field was more hitter-friendly then than Minute Maid Park is now, but Berkman’s numbers were “Oh My Gosh!” spectacular. .331 batting average, 55 doubles (second in franchise history to Craig Biggio's 56 in 1999), 34 homers, .430 on-base percentage, .620 slugging percentage, and 1.051 OPS. And that was just Berkman’s second full season in the majors. Lance finished fifth in National League Most Valuable Player Award voting. Giant-headed Barry Bonds won MVP with his 73 home runs among other sicko stats.

* Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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