Olympic Basketball Bracket 2012: Power Rankings Heading into Quarterfinal Games
With the preliminary round coming to an end, all the seeds have been locked for the quarterfinal round of men's basketball.
From Group A, the four teams that have advanced are the United States, Argentina, France and Lithuania. On the other side in Group B, the four teams that have advanced are Russia, Spain, Brazil and Australia.
Heading into the quarterfinals, the stakes are raised. One loss in the quarterfinals will take a team out of contention for a medal. With every game becoming more significant, what do the power rankings look like for the teams heading into the quarterfinals?
One of the biggest questions surrounding this Australian team heading into London was if anyone would step up for the injured Australian star Andrew Bogut. Bogut, who would have easily been the best player on this squad, missed the London games due to an ankle injury.
As for now, Patty Mills has stepped up, averaging 20.2 points a game off 42 percent shooting. Although his shot selection is questionable at times, Mills has been the team's leading scorer.
Australia did look strong against Group B No. 1 seed Russia, as they managed to beat Russia 82-80. A strong performance from forward Joe Ingles helped Australia gain a victory and ride some momentum heading into the quarterfinals.
As the fourth seed in Group B, Australia will have to face the No. 1 seed from Group A (most likely the U.S.).
Australia faces a tough road ahead of them if they want to get past the quarterfinals, and that will require an exceptional game from Patty Mills, as well as the rest of the Australian squad.
Although they almost upset the United States in their previous game, they haven't found much success as they finished group play a disappointing 2-3. Ranked fifth in FIBA, many did not expect Lithuania to finish fourth in group play.
Only two players on their squad average double digit points, and it seems that some of their players have not contributed as expected. Most notably, Lithuania center Jonas Valanciunas has struggled thus far and has not contributed much to the efforts of Lithuania; he has only averaged 3.6 points a game and has found himself in foul trouble in most games.
Forward Linas Kleiza has been consistent in group play, averaging 16 points a game to go along with six rebounds. Kleiza was also the leading scorer for Lithuania against the United States, scoring 25 points.
With Kleiza doing most of the work for Lithuania, more players need to step up in a supporting role if they want any chance of moving past the quarterfinals and a chance for a medal.
After a demoralizing defeat from the United States, France has bounced back atop the Group A standings.
They beat No. 3 ranked Argentina 71-64 and have been riding that momentum ever since, going 4-1 in group play.
After a slow start, Tony Parker seems to be finding his rhythm, averaging 15 points per game. However, he seems to be struggling to find open looks for his teammates as he is only averaging 3.6 assists a game, along with three turnovers a game. Interestingly enough, Boris Diaw is leading the French team in assists.
Similar to Team USA, France is undersized, although not as athletic. If they were to matchup against a team with height such as Spain, they might find themselves in trouble.
Leaders Tony Parker and forward Nicolas Batum, who leads the team in scoring, must play with continued consistency moving forward if they want any shot of advancing past the quarterfinals.
Brazil was the dark horse for many entering the Olympics. They possess a lot of NBA talent on their roster with Nene, Anderson Varejao, Leandro Barbosa and Thiago Splittler.
Brazil finished group play 4-1, but they have been inconsistent with their offense. Against Great Britain, the Brazilians had to overcome a horrid four-point first quarter. However, guard Marcelo Huertas has been stellar in distributing the ball and finding open teammates.
Although his assists numbers have gone down to six per game, through the first two games Huertas was averaging nine assists a game to go along with 16 points.
One concern for the Brazilians may be in center Nene. Nene, who has been bothered by plantar fasciitis, sat out against Spain to rest the soreness in his foot. A healthy Nene will certainly be crucial if Brazil plans to make a run into the medal rounds.
Brazil needs to find an offensive identity as well as surround Huertas with more consistent play in order to avoid elimination early on.
The Russians have shocked the world so far, earning the top seed in Group A as well as upsetting No. 2 ranked Spain.
New Timberwolves acquisition forward Andrei Kirilenko looks rejuvenated, averaging 18 points and six rebounds a game.
The Russians have been one of the best defensive teams through this tournament as they lead the tournament in blocks. A physically defensive team, if Kirilenko and company can keep their level of intensity and continually play at a high level, they may just go farther than a lot of people think.
However, with teams like USA and Argentina picking up steam, it's hard to see Russia going all the way.
Although the Argentinians were upset by France early in group play, they have regrouped and have since looked like the No. 3 ranked Argentina everyone was accustomed to seeing.
Leaders Manu Ginobili and Luis Scola have been spectacular, and both are averaging more than 20 points a game.
One of Argentina's strengths is that they are a veteran team that have played together for many years now. Argentina can also utilize their bench and not lose much production or contribution.
Very skilled all around, Argentina is one of the best teams in the tournament and will likely be a medal contender.
Even though Spain was upset by Russia, they still possess a lot of talent on their roster beginning with their frontcourt.
One of Spain's biggest advantages in this tournament is the quality of bigs they have on the roster. With the Gasol brothers and Serge Ibaka, Spain's interior can really do damage to teams.
One of Spain's weaknesses, however, may be having a ball handler to run the offense. Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio is missing the London games as he is recovering from knee surgery. That leaves Jose Calderon to run the show and orchestrate the offense.
Spain is another team that has been together for some time now, and their team chemistry is surely an advantage once the quarterfinals begin. The No. 2 team is another favorite in the tournament and will also likely be a medal contender.
Stacked with talent and expected to dominate the Olympics, Team USA has been showing itself to be more vulnerable than first thought. A scare from Lithuania had fans holding their breath and questioning if this team could go all the way with ease.
For the most part, the story of Team USA has been start slow and dominant the second half (excluding Nigeria). Once the knockout stages begin, you have to believe that Team USA will play with a sense of urgency from the beginning and get off to good starts.
Although they lack height, their athleticism allows them to get up and down the court in a hurry and play great pressure defense, which allows them to cause turnovers. The team excels in defense, averaging about 12 steals a game.
With a great coach in Mike Krzyzewski and a roster filled with talent from top to bottom, it's hard to see how this team will not be able to reach the medal rounds.
If they fail to execute, it seems that the only team that can beat Team USA will be themselves.