Summer Olympics 2012 Predictions: Men's Basketball Bracket and Medal Winners

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Summer Olympics 2012 Predictions: Men's Basketball Bracket and Medal Winners
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

While injuries were making it difficult for the U.S. men's basketball team to set its roster, the rest of the medal hopeful countries began playing tournament games or otherwise preparing for pool play.

The final teams were placed via the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, and the pool summaries were updated as winners advanced.

None of these teams figure to survive to the medal games, but they will make pool play interesting.

The other big question from the international teams was the status of Tony Parker. He was cleared to join Team France for the Olympics.

Almost anything can happen once play begins, but with rosters determined, it is time to predict the outcome of pool play and the medal winners.

 

Pool A

This pool is definitely the most competitive. It features three medal favorites in the U.S., France and Argentina, along with a decent Tunisia club. 

Pool A also houses the top two qualifiers from the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, Nigeria and Lituania. One of those is likely to advance beyond pool play, and figures to be Lithuania despite a loss to Nigeria in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

Some have called this an unfortunate draw for the American entry, but there is another perspective.

The U.S. team is just being finalized and will come out of its camp with very little experience as a unit in international competition. Tough matchups in their pool will help the Americans prepare for the finals bracket.

There is virtually no risk that Team USA won't survive pool play. Even if it falters in pool play, it will have a decent seed in the medal brackets. The improved competition will make the team more battle-tested and should have it playing better basketball when the games that matter begin.

 

Pool B

While not nearly as dominant as the other pool, there are still a few quality teams in Pool B. Spain was the 2008 Olympic silver medalist and should breeze through pool play. 

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Spain will attempt to get back to the gold medal game in 2012.

The group also includes China, less the retired Yao Ming, and an Australian team that will be hobbled without Andrew Bogut, who is recovering from ankle surgery. Great Britain could advance to the medal bracket.

Pool B was an ideal spot for a team from the Olympic Qualifying Tournament to sneak into the bracket rounds. Expect Russia to be competitive. 

 

Projected Standings

Pool A

W-L

Pool B

W-L

USA

5-0 

Spain

5-0 

France

4-1

Australia

3-2

Argentina

3-2 

Brazil

3-2

Lituania

2-3

Russia

2-3

Nigeria

1-4

Great Britain

2-3

Tunisia

0-5

China

0-5

 

The top four teams in each pool qualify for the medals bracket. Expectations place three Pool A teams into the semifinals, with Spain the only surviving team from Pool B.

This would set up matches between the USA and Argentina in one semifinal, with France and Spain playing in the other.

The two winners meet and play for gold and silver, while the two teams that lose the semifinal matchups will compete in the bronze medal game.

UPDATE

As projected, Russia and Lithuania won their semifinal games. Russia was fortunate to be placed in Pool B, with Nigeria and Lithuania being placed in Pool A. This will make for a very challenging schedule headed into bracket play.


Bronze Medal Game
: Argentina vs. Spain

Spain will have too much for Argentina in this matchup. They will pair Pau and Marc Gasol with other NBA greats, such as Serge Ibaka, Rudy Fernández and José Calderón.

Manu Ginóbili and Andrés Nocioni won't have the defense or firepower to keep them in this game. It won't be a blowout, but Argentina won't be able to challenge them, either.


Gold Medal Game: USA vs. France

The semifinal matchup between France and Spain could be one of the best in the tournament. While tough to call, the nod will go to Parker and his French teammates. The aforementioned quality of Pool A will better prepared them for the medal round and give them one more shot at the U.S.

Team USA will simply be too deep for France, though. The Americans are assembling an all-star cast despite injury issues, and the best chance for an international team to beat a U.S. team led by coach Mike Krzyzewski is to assemble a group of international all-stars.

Gone are the days of Americans overlooking their competition and being more concerned with their hotel rooms than their play. They will play a disciplined game in London and repeat as Olympic champions.

 

UPDATE

Here is the final roster for Team USA:

Guard
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder
Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets

Forward
Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers*
Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia 76ers
LeBron James, Miami Heat
Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves

Center
Tyson Chandler, New York Knicks

*Blake Griffin will be replaced by PF Anthony Davis, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NBA draft by the Charlotte Hornets.

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