Olympic Basketball 2012 Schedule: How Russia's Upset of Spain Changes Everything
In one of the first big upsets of the Olympic Games so far, Russia has defeated heavily favored Spain in their Group B matchup. Based on how the knockout seeding works, this changes the entire presumed bracket for the rest of the tournament.
For those of you who don't know, the top four seeds from each group advance to the knockout stages. The even-seeded teams from one bracket play the odd seeds from the other.
To lay it out simply: The No. 1 seeds from groups A and B will play the No. 4 seeds from the opposite group in the round of eight. Same goes for the No. 2 seeds, against No. 3s.
Assuming Russia now wins Group B, that means Spain and Brazil will play on Monday for the No. 2 seed.
Here's the catch: The No. 2 seed from Group B plays the No. 1 seed from Group A in the semifinals, whereas the No. 3 seed of Group B doesn't have to play the winner of Group A until the gold-medal game.
Why does this matter?
Because the winner of Group A will presumably be Team USA.
In other words, it would be in both Brazil's and Spain's best interests to lose their matchup and fall to the No. 3 seed as a way to avoid Team USA.
However, given the fallout of the recent badminton scandal, neither team can outright throw the game.
That means, assuming each team plays to its best, Spain should defeat Brazil and claim a semifinals match with the Americans.
This changes all of our presumptions about the gold-medal game. In this scenario, it would likely be either Group A runner-up Argentina or Group B winner Russia playing Team USA in the gold-medal game, not Spain.
It would also rob us of a great matchup between Argentina and Spain in the semifinals. That game would feature the only team to win a gold medal other than Team USA during the professional era playing against Team USA's presumed biggest rival.
Assuming all goes as planned, Spain's loss has completely changed the Olympic script. Now Spain will be playing Team USA in the semifinals, and a loss would mean only a shot at the bronze medal rather than a guaranteed silver.
It also hurts Team USA, as the only team the American men have a reason to fear could now knock them out of the gold-medal game entirely.
This was one of the bigger upsets of the Olympics so far and will have incredibly far-reaching implications.
For Team USA's sake, let's just hope Brazil can copy Russia's blueprints for an upset.
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