Group A: The United States may not have looked very convincing, but they survived Group A undefeated. On the other hand, Australia looked impressive in their games, and only lost to the U.S. team. France and Serbia also advanced, but that was expected since hapless Venezuela and China were the other two teams in this group.
Group B: Wow what an interesting group! The top 4 teams all finished at 3-2 and there were some great games to watch. A 2OT victory for Argentina over Brazil ended up being the difference, as Argentina is advancing and Brazil is not. Spain struggled to start the tournament with 2 close losses, one of which was decided by The Homie Dario’s fantastic game-saving block for Croatia against Pau Gasol, but Spain then advanced after 3 straight wins to finish group play.
Well look at that! I picked all the teams correctly. Okay, okay, it really isn’t that impressive, especially since I didn’t predict their group records. But because of the results in the Group Stage we have some great matchups in the Quarterfinals.
Knockout Stage Prediction
(A1) United States vs. (B4) Argentina
Yes, the U.S. has struggled to win big in their last few games, but does that really matter? They are still the most talented team, and they are still winning. They haven’t needed a big shot at the end of those games to win, but nonetheless they did struggle in their late-game situations. I expect them to play with more urgency than they showed in the group stage, because anything less than a Gold Medal is unacceptable.
(B2) Spain vs. (A3) France
These teams met in the quarterfinals in 2012 also. This will be a tough matchup and a game that is unfortunate to be played this early in the tournament. Spain looks like they have figured things out, especially after a 50 point (50!) victory over Lithuania. I predicted France to get the Silver medal, but that’s out now, because not only do they have to beat Spain, but they would have a hungry United States team waiting for them in the next round. I’ll take Spain in this game, but it will be close. If you only watch 1 non-U.S. game in this tournament, this should be the game.
(A2) Australia vs. (B3) Lithuania
If you told the Aussies before the Olympics that they would be on the opposite side of the bracket of the United States, Spain, France, and Argentina they would’ve been ecstatic. And honestly, they probably still are. Nothing against Croatia, Lithuania, or Serbia, but Australia should really make the Gold Medal game. Patty Mills has looked great, and this team looks determined right now.
(B1) Croatia vs. (A4) Serbia
Wait, Croatia won their group? The same team that lost to Nigeria? Yes, that Croatia. Dario has been good, not great, and Mario not so great. But they still managed to win their group with some important close wins. On the other hand, Serbia lost those close games and finished at 2-3. I think Serbia gets hot in this game, and Croatia will force too many shots while trailing.
Gold: United States