The United States men’s national basketball team is indisputably the most talented in the world. With Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Damian Lillard and Jayson Tatum, Team USA clearly has a solid core.
However, to the surprise of many, the squad has struggled in exhibition games, going just 2-2. As a result, there might now be value in betting against the Americans. Below, I go through the teams that may be most likely to upset them in their quest for Olympic gold.
Tokyo Olympics 2020 Men’s Basketball: Odds To Win Gold Medal
- Group A
- United States (-286)
- France (+1700)
- Czech Republic (+8000)
- Iran (+100000)
- Australia (+650)
- Nigeria (+4000)
- Italy (+4000)
- Germany (+20000)
- Spain (+600)
- Slovenia (+1700)
- Argentina (+4000)
- Japan (+200000)
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2020 Men’s Basketball: Tournament Format
The 2020 Olympics for men’s basketball is much different than the NBA playoffs. For the NBA, teams must win four best-of-seven series to win the championship. For the Olympics, there are fewer games, and, as a result, there is more variance.
There are twelve teams divided into three groups: A, B and C. The tournament’s first stage is played in a round-robin format where each team plays the other three teams once. Following this stage, the next stages of the tournament turn into elimination games, similar to the NCAA Tournament.
For the quarterfinals, there are eight teams composed of the winners of each group, the second-place teams in each group, and the two best remaining third-place teams. Each quarterfinals matchup is an elimination matchup followed by a semi-final, leading to the gold medal game.
Betting on a team to win a gold medal is essentially a four-leg parlay where you are betting on a team to make it out of their group and win their quarter-final, semi-final, and gold medal games.
Why is Team USA struggling before Tokyo Olympics 2020 Men’s Basketball?
Since NBA players were included on Olympic rosters in 1992, the United States has dominated Men’s Basketball. In every Olympics besides 2004, the USA men’s team has won the gold medal.
For the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the Americans look vulnerable. The USA team lost their first two international friendly games to Nigeria (87-90) and Australia (83-91). However, the Americans have rebounded (no pun intended) in the last two exhibition games by beating Argentina (108-80) and Spain (83-76).
Basketball is a team sport that requires chemistry. The USA national team does not play together as frequently as the other national teams. The European teams like Spain, Germany, and France play in the EuroBasket tournament and qualifiers. Additionally, the European players frequently play together on the same EuroLeague teams during the regular season.
Much of Team USA’s success is tied more in their roster construction than their chemistry. Kevin Love and Bradley Beal have recently opted out of the Olympics, but Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton and Devin Booker are expected to play in the Olympics following the NBA Finals.
The Americans are likely to win at least two of their three Group A games against France, Iran, and the Czech Republic. The question is, should they be heavily favored to win all three of their elimination games?
Which Teams Could Defeat US In Men’s Basketball?
Slovenia is not traditionally a basketball powerhouse, but in Luka Dončić, they have arguably the most talented player in the Olympics outside of Durant. After an exciting NBA Playoffs run where the Mavericks almost knocked off the LA Clippers in seven games, Dončić is looking to build upon his success in Tokyo.
Rounding out the Slovenian roster are Valencia basketball teammates Mike Tobey and Klemen Prepelič. Valencia had a strong Liga ACB and EuroLeague season, with Tobey being a double-double threat and Prepelič averaging 3.9 three-pointers a game, the fourth-most in EuroLeague. As a high-volume three-point shooter, teams are vulnerable against Slovenia if they focus too much on Dončić at the expense of Prepelič and Tobey.
The French basketball team is led by three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. During the NBA regular season, the Utah Jazz posted the league’s best record in the NBA behind Gobert’s solid defense.
Rounding out France’s roster are two backup seven-foot centers in Moustapha Fall and Vincent Poirier and four NBA players in Nicolas Batum, Evan Fournier, Frank Ntilikina and Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot. If France can contain the Americans beyond the arc and force them to go inside, Gobert and France could easily beat them for the Gold Medal or beat them outright as 14-point underdogs on July 25.
Who better to back against the United States than one of the two teams that beat them in an exhibition game? With eight active NBA players, the Nigerians have a competitive roster for the 2020 Olympics. All Nigeria must do is make it out of their group, which includes three teams they are capable of beating in Australia, Italy, and Germany.
Who Will Win Gold Medal In 2020 Tokyo Olympics Men’s Basketball?
The United States basketball team has the most talent in the Olympics, but they will not win the gold medal if they lose one of the games outside of their group. Therefore, the best strategy is to bet against them as heavy favorites.
Slovenia is a great longshot bet to win the tournament. With Dončić, they have a chance to beat any team in the tournament. Even in a tough group, Slovenia should do well enough to advance to the quarterfinals for a chance of winning the gold medal by winning only three games.
Opening Weekend Picks
While Nigeria and France are good picks to win the gold medal, there is more value in backing them to win outright as money line underdogs in their opening weekend matchups. France at +700 against a vulnerable USA team is a good value. Additionally, Nigeria at +275 against Australia is worth a look as well.
2020 Tokyo Olympics Men’s Basketball Schedule
- Start Date: Sun July 25
- Knockout Stage: August 3-5
- Gold Medal Game: August 6
- Bronze Medal Game: August 7