Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Men's Olympic Basketball Knockout Round Preview

The U.S. will face Australia in the quarterfinals of the Olympic basketball tournament. Australia can pull the unlikely upset. They shoot a ton of threes. They're streaky in that department, but if they're on, it could spell trouble for the Americans. The Australians also tend to shoot free throws well. They're led by Patty Mills, who has a 39 point game this Olympics. He also had a 30+ point game for the Spurs late in the year.

Argentina faces Brazil on the same side of the bracket in a battle of South American rivals. Either team will give the U.S. a tough game. They have experienced and stead guards and NBA bigs. Both teams gave the U.S. the toughest two contests of the exhibition session. This will a close game. I'd give the slight edge to Argentina, which could make for a testy semifinal matchup with the U.S.

Russia, the surprise winner of Group B, faces former Soviet satellite Lithuania. Russia has played three close games thus far, beating Brazil and Spain in two of them. They've relied on a different guy virtually every game. Andrei Kirilenko had a 35 point game. Vitaliy Fridzon has played two good games off the bench. Timofey Mozgov has also played well off the bench. But Lithuania is talented and experienced enough to pull the upset. This should also be a close game.

Spain and France round out a quarterfinals filled with rivalry games. Spain disappointed in the group stage. Perhaps, they were simply trying to set themselves up to be on the opposite side of the bracket from the U.S. France lives and dies with the talents of Tony Parker. They do have other good players, but Parker is an elite level player. Spain's strength is down low. They likely won't be able to stop Parker. But it might be difficult for France to stop the Gasol brothers. Look for France's Kevin Seraphin to get more playing time in that one. I've been higher on France than most, but I'm not necessarily picking them to win here.

If the U.S. makes it to the final, Lithuania might be the toughest matchup. Spain could also pose problems, although they didn't fare well against the U.S. in their exhibition game.

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