London 2012 Olympics - USA Men's Basketball - USA vs. France
At approximately 2:30pm London time the 2012 US men’s basketball team will play its first Olympic game against France. The star-studded US team has been dominating the odds charts and the court. France will not be a total pushover but they won’t be great either. Tony Parker, of the San Antonio Spurs, will lead France against the strong US team.
This past Sunday the US put down Argentina to take a close 86-80 win. Argentina and the USA have often faced each other in the Olympic playoffs. In 2004 Argentina won the gold medal but not before beating the USA in the semi-finals. Then in 2008 the Americans beat Argentina in those semi-finals before winning gold at that year. Kobe Bryant expressed his admiration for how hard Argentina played in Sunday’s game but as LeBron James pointed out after the game the US team is happy to have some exhibition competition to ready the squad for London.
Then on Tuesday the US team played Spain who they beat to win the gold medal in 2008. The Americans trounced Spain 100-78 in a great defensive game for the US. Chris Paul has said that the strength of this year’s US squad is its ability to play good defense. However Spain jumped out ahead in the first quarter with a 9-point lead, making the Americans seem slightly vulnerable. However, in the end the Americans were able to defend against Spain’s height advantage by playing more physically and they went on to control play in the other three quarters.
The US men also beat Brazil and England in exhibition games last week. France will depend on Tony Parker but also its NBA rich squad. No other international team aside from the USA has as many NBA’ers as France; 8 players in total. This is likely to give France an experience edge over most teams in London and could make them a challenge that the USA has not prepared itself for.
The USA team has averaged 99.5 points in exhibition play this month and will the favorites going into the tournament and Sunday’s game against France. Interesting bets to get involved in would be the individual team over/under for Sunday’s game or the winning margin for the game. Expect the US team to be fired up and ready to prove themselves to the world in their first game.
France is favored as the fourth best team in the tournament at 28/1 odds to win gold while the USA team is the number one favorite at 1/8. On average France will have a height advantage which may make the US work harder, but the US’s defeat of a taller team in Spain casts doubt upon how much of an asset height will really be. This should be a good show of basketball talent with the edge going to Team USA.