Team USA Men's basketball advanced through the preliminary rounds unbeaten at 5-0 and now enter the knockout rounds as heavy favorites for gold. The first test will be Australia in a game that can be seen live on NBC Sports Network at 5:15pm eastern time or streamed live online at NBCOlympics.com.
The US survived a scare in game 4 of the prelims when they beat Lithuania by 5, but rebounded by easily dispatching medal favorites Argentina in the final prelim game by a score of 126-97. They'll be facing an Aussie squad that started off rough with a pair off losses, but finished the prelims strong with three straight wins, the last of which came on a buzzer beater against a good Russian squad.
The Australians have no NBA players on their roster in these games. Typically, their best player would be Andrew Bogut, but an injury kept him out of London. Cavs guard Kyrie Irving was actually born in Australia, but declined to play for the Aussies choosing instead to play for USA basketball.
While it has been a pretty good games for Australia, its hard to see them posing any real threat to the USA. They've earned a medal in the Olympics or World Championships. Plus, they were eliminated by the US at this stage in the Beijing games.
US coach Mike Krzyzewski says his squad is confident, but they're not expecting every game to be a blowout.
"We're undefeated, now we're 0-0. Like, our team's done a really good job," Krzyzewski said. "I mean, we have great camaraderie, we're healthy. Again, you all can do whatever you want with the dominance thing, but it ain't happening. It's just not happening and we know that. So if you're looking at a game for us to dominate every minute of the game, it will not happen. They're too good. People are too good and so if you can win minutes, segments, then that adds up to a win, which is what we want to do."
Coach K may very well be right about some later games, but not this one. This one has all the makings of a pretty big US win.
"We understand the level of talent we'll be up against," said Australia coach Brett Brown. "Our focus will be on playing prideful Australian basketball. The players are looking forward to playing them and will use it as a measuring stick to see what level they are on now."